Cabot caricature artist captures personalities

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published November 22, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 21, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Jared Hogue’s first gallery showing of his caricatures is on display at the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Hogue, a self-taught artist from Cabot, focuses on famous Arkansans, political figures and pop-culture icons in the exhibit.

— Jared Hogue just wants to make people laugh.

Instead of a slew of jokes or contorted faces, Hogue inspires chuckles through his caricatures. Though they may look like exaggerated cartoons to some, Hogue considers his portraits art, just like any other medium.

“People have a point in that it’s not fine art, but it’s still art,” Hogue said. “Anytime you’re looking at a subject and pulling out your own interpretation of that, it’s art.”

Hogue, 39, has been working as a freelance artist in central Arkansas for 20 years doing caricatures, illustrations and political cartoons. Though his love for art started in high school, he’s never taken art classes. It’s all self-taught.

“I’ve always loved graphic novels and comics,” Hogue said.

He started with black-and-white pencil-sketch portraits and grew into caricature from there. Hogue said he has always had an interest in that type of drawing, especially the work of Mad Magazine artist Tom Richmond. But the cartoonish look of caricature sketches can be deceiving. The hardest part is striking a balance between exaggeration and insulting someone, Hogue said.

“You need to be able to pull out those features that capture a personality,” Hogue said. “Typically, you only pull out one or two things. A lot of my work is more mute, but when someone says, ‘Go nuts, the goofier the better,’ I love it.”

The majority of Hogue’s commissions come through Facebook (facebook.com/caricaturesbyjared), with people emailing photos of loved ones for birthdays or anniversary portraits. Hogue has to find time to sketch when he can. A full-time teacher at Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock, he also works part time as an English and communications teacher at Arkansas State University-Searcy. Early mornings, he can be found delivering this newspaper, and several days a week, he’s in class at Little Rock’s Missionary Baptist Seminary.

“I started a drawing yesterday in the car waiting for a doctor’s appointment,” Hogue said. “I always have my bag [of art supplies] with me.”

When he’s home, Hogue draws wherever he can find room. His wife, Allison, is a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s three daughters, who often draw alongside their dad. Though he hasn’t done a caricature portrait of his family , he does like to draw his daughters as the cartoon-form of their nicknames: Peanut, Princess and Scrappy. He’s tried out a couple caricature self-portraits, but his wife said they don’t look like him.

“She just loves me too much,” Hogue said, laughing.

Each caricature takes around 15 to 20 minutes for Hogue to do a rough sketch, followed by another hour and a half or so of detail and coloring. It’s fast turnaround for the art world, but it can still pose a challenge. Hogue recently completed 33 drawings for this first gallery show. His exhibit Mini Faces will be on display in the Second Floor Gallery of the Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock through Jan. 6. It’s Hogue’s first time having his art on display, and so far, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience, he said.

Amanda Whitley, assistant curator of collections at the museum, says Hogue is the first caricature artists they’ve had and people have been very impressed. The exhibit is free to the public when the museum is open.

Hogue’s wife and daughters were able to come to the show’s opening night. The next day, Hogue found the two oldest girls drawing and hanging up their art in neat rows along the wall. They were making their own exhibit.

The exhibit features three sections: Notable Arkansas, In Memoriam and Pop Culture. Sketches of President Bill Clinton and Hot Springs native Billy Bob Thornton hang in the same hallway as sketches of the main cast of the TV show Duck Dynasty. Everything is for sale from $40 to $60, and Hogue likes the idea that people who normally couldn’t walk out of a gallery having bought something can afford to take one of his pieces home.

“Everyone loves caricatures,” Hogue said. “During the exhibit opening, I heard one of the best compliments. I was around the corner, and I heard a guy just laughing, cracking up at the drawings.”

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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