Barry Blitt

I don’t have a philosophy of caricature. I’m not even sure I am a caricaturist, in the strictest sense of the word – I don’t really exaggerate much. For a while, recently, I was thinking of attempting a reverse-caricature of Donald Trump; he certainly already appears to be a caricature of himself. I wondered about de-caricaturizing him, scaling back his whole face and hair and visual excess, and attempting to shed light on him that way.

I’m, like, not overly into labels. I’ve been referred to that way, but I tend to think of political cartoonists as constantly at it, producing more work than I do. I do, what, six or eight covers a year, maybe, and a bunch of illustrations as well, but how many do you create a year? I’m in awe of that, and I think the term implies being at it every day or at least weekly.

Luckily, my limited attention span is well suited to the velocity of the news cycles. There’s an assault of stories coming at you on even a slow-ish news day, but certain things just tend to stick out. Certain stories just seem to have an odd sort of electricity. It does get tricky when you’re pitching an image that won’t hit the newsstands for another week. Not only can other, bigger stories break in the mean time, but other daily cartoonists, can also come up with the same idea – this is the most depressing thing – and put it out there so yours looks old by the time it’s published.

When I’m online and I see a picture I want to draw of anybody or anything, a unique angle of them or just something that looks very drawable, I slide it to my desktop and put it in a folder. It just seems like every picture of Trump is a revelation. Any angle. I didn’t know a person could look like that. His facial expressions – he really is a cartoon. He’s like an instruction manual of how to caricature someone.

The back of Donald Trump’s head is fantastic and his eyebrows are amazing. His overbite and his series of chins and the color of him and the texture. It’s amazing! He’s like an artifact. It’s an amazing head to draw and I have to think it’s got to be part of his success. It’s ready-made for public consumption.

I do a lot of pivoting. There was one cover I did of Donald Trump, after he won Iowa, it seemed like it was over for him at the beginning of the primary process. I was given the go-ahead on it right away. I drew it and he won the next primary, and suddenly, the cover didn’t make any sense. And then, after the Democratic National Convention, it seemed like he was finished, Hillary Clinton seemed to be gaining strength, so the cover ran then. So it seemed like you can come up with an idea and it can be rendered useless two days later and then all of a sudden it’s relevant again.

Just look at the back of Donald Trump’s head, any angle. There’s some angles that his chin is just, what do I mean? I mean he’s sculpted out of some kind of pudding, I think. It looks like his face is sort of melting slowly. I should talk because my face is melting quickly. He’s some kind of bizarre sculpture. There’s no one really who looks like that.

The magazine business is dying. It’s a hard time for publishing. It does seem that everyone is much more opinionated now. I think there’s probably more room for making opinionated illustrations. There was a time when Time magazine and Newsweek would have a realistic painted cover. A friend of mine used to do a lot of those paintings and he was told by the art director at one point, we are switching to photography. It seems that if someone saw a painting on a cover, it took a while to do, it must be old news. Photography became more immediate.

I don’t really know what makes someone want to be a cartoonist, but part of it is trying to get in trouble. You’re looking where the line is and seeing how much you can step over it, and I mean, I do that in my personal life, too. I try to anger and piss people off a little bit to try to see what I can get away with. I got in trouble with more than one cartoon.