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ka-news Interview

July 2013, ka-news

Pears and a Chihuahua with hiking stick:
Paddy Boehm from Karlsruhe is a caricaturist

Karlsruhe (mw) – Two tiny eyes and a huge open mouth, in addition a forehead so high it resembles the neck of a pear: it's the native Karlsruher Oliver Kahn in the eyes of Paddy Boehm. Boehm's business is to parody people – with pen and paper. Ka-news spoke with the artist from Karlsruhe about the life of a caricaturist and chihuahuas with hiking sticks.

Questions: Marie Wehrhahn

Mr. Boehm, you are a professional caricaturist drawing funny depictions of people. Others become accountant or fire fighter, how to get a profession like yours?

Like almost every child I always liked to draw – but as the others stopped as teenagers or young adults I just went on and took for example art as advanced course at school. I was getting better with practice. I've always found it most exciting to depict people in different moods and situations – I would say there also lies my talent. At the time I learned the profession of a graphic designer – worked as such for several years until I became self-employed as a caricature artist about six years ago.

Today your customers want to pay for a strange exaggerated portrait out of your pen. How is your daily life between paper and pen?

The production time of a caricature varies widely – sometimes I only need half a day for a project, sometimes a whole week. Basically, I'm working at my drawing table at home. Clients send me photos of themselves, which I take as models for the caricature. These are mainly family, birthday or wedding photos. But I must admit that I have to laugh occasionally about the orders and wishes of my clients – but first of all I have to 'familiarize' myself with a specific topic: for example if a boy likes to play baseball, I first have to inform myself about the characteristics of the sport to create an authentic image. It also happened that a lady liked to have her Chihuahua shown as a wanderer – in full outfit with hiking stick and shoes.

So it's also possible to caricature animals?

Yes, that works. But here it is difficult to identify the personality of a certain four-legged friend. Mistress wishes to get an individual and precisely tailored portrait of her Buddy (or whatever its name). Unfortunately dogs of one breed look pretty similar in our eyes, while human facial features are already unmistakable at first glance.

When I think of a caricature of a person, I have automatically floating images of oversized heads and noses around in my head. Do I have a distorted idea of this art form, or do distorted facial features make a difference in this style of art?

Hmm, a definition is difficult. A caricature is sort of a parody of a person or a moment. It's really about to emphasize the peculiarities of a person. Many artists draw an oversized head. Whether pear-shaped, square or round: the shape of the head makes the face, and there is nothing more individual than the facial features. A large head alone, however, makes no caricature. There are always artists who draw big heads, but they do not "exaggerate" them, so they are actually only normal portraits on small bodies.

Important to me as a draftsman are also the mouth area as well as nose, eyes and ears in order to simulate the physiognomy and expression of the person as good as possible. Formerly I did portraits in which only the head was shown – today I draw mainly full body caricatures at a ratio of head and body of about 1:1.

A caricature wants to criticize. For centuries it has been a common medium to dispute society as well as current incidents or to mock them. Do you have besides private commissions also celebrity caricatures on your list, Mr. Boehm?

From time to time. Previously I was principally involved in drawing celebrities or politicians. Today, unfortunately, there is little time for that. I mainly painted people who I had a personal interest in or those that currently dominated the public through headlines. A regional celebrity that I've drawn once was Oliver Kahn by the way – and he is originally from Karlsruhe.

Link to original interview

Sept. 2006, Klappe Auf

"Some say there are musicians on one hand and drummers on the other. In the same manner caricaturists are often perceived as joke painters not as artists", says Paddy Boehm. He has to know it, because he is both. Playing drums is a hobby, but he would like to make a living solely as a caricaturist one day. Anyhow, the underdog image of his passions apparently isn't unappealing to him.

Sticks and pencils – Paddy Boehm

by Thomas Zimmer

Patrick Mark Boehm, born 1973, experienced his initial impact in the early 1980s: the pictures of the German soccer team, drawn by Volker Ernsting for "Hoerzu" in 1982, had infected the nine-year-old. He just loved these extreme exaggerated faces. At the age of 15 he began, together with his six years younger (!) brother Tim to edit a small, black & white comic fanzine. Typewriter written texts and Paddy's drawings were pasted and copied, distributed to friends and relatives.

He was influenced by Franco-Belgian comic artists like Uderzo, Morris, Franquin, Tabary and caricaturists like Mulatier, Morchoisne and of course Sebastian Krueger. After he finished school he studied graphic design and worked a long time in a publishing house. His exhibition at Radio Oriente "combines the best of the last three years." The three who are most pleasing to the artist himself are "Snoop Dogg, Gene Simmons and Polanski". Of course there are also uncountable paddyfied friends and relatives in his sketch blocks, but his thing is the celebrity caricature. Because well-known people don't act as a model to a Paddy Boehm, he has to count on photos. As basis he always uses several photos to study the characteristic facets and nuances of a face.

Boehm inserts a lot of detail work with sharp pencil into his portraits, akin the more famous colleague Sebastian Krueger, whose influence is still noticeable in Boehm's works. From sketch to finished portrait it's often more than a complete working day. Especially because he has more and more the ambition to put his celebrities in adequate backgrounds, which also demand the same care and flair. To work as a caricaturist for newspapers and magazines is becoming increasingly difficult. "Just recently a caricature rubric was replaced by photos in FOCUS", says Boehm. After all CARICATURE, an American magazine, dedicated four high gloss pages, he won prices with some of his pictures, and a Madonna and a Marilyn-Monroe portrait were published in coffee-table books of a publishing house in London. "That's already something for eternity to be in such a book", he is pleased. Tz

Nov. 2005, BNN (Badische Neueste Nachrichten)

The picture opens the eyes

The caricatures of Paddy Boehm are also in demand in the USA

by our associate Monika John

Angela Merkel. A picture of a magazine lies at the drawing table. She's smiling. Besides a pencil drawing, the sketch of a caricature: Mrs. Merkel with a distinctive, elongated chin, with a broad smiling mouth and closely, tired looking eyes. The sketch is the basis for the picture caricaturist Patrick Boehm, called Paddy, is currently working on. The background is painted with acrylics and brushes, also the outlines of the face, the rougher lines and hair. If the strokes are getting finer, that's always the case when shapes should be worked out with delicate shadings, the 32-year-old grabs his razor sharp pencils.

His humorous, sometimes ironic pictures not only show his special artistic talent, but also his patience of a saint. Often enough it take ten hours or more until Paddy elaborated typical features of a face with finest strokes – for example big eyes, a long nose or a prominent chin to boost the recognition of, for example celebrities or politicians. So he makes aware to the beholder the laugh of Jennifer Lopez or throws the curled up lips of Angelina Jolie literally in your face. Paddy's caricature of Madonna was published in the coffee-table book "Madonna in Art", Marilyn Monroe will follow next year. With his drawings of Guenter Grass and Serge Gainsbourgh he reaped prices, "Caricature", an American magazine, attended four high gloss pages to him and after that a US American snapped up a whole series of celebrity portraits.

How did he started this kind of painting? "I painted already as a child", reports the man who made his school leaving examination at Humboldt secondary school in Karlsruhe, studied graphic design and is working for a few years in a publishing house. He was fascinated by "funny art" as far as he can remember. At the age of 15 he published the comic magazine "Zeitlupe" together with his younger brother Tim.

Both did that for about ten years. As his brother concentrated on cartoons and comics, Paddy made the illustrations and caricatures.

His major idol is the grandmaster and guru of contemporary caricaturists, Sebastian Krueger. Like him, Paddy don't want to know anything about sketchily pencil strokes.

His works are a kind of art that has to grow slowly to banish a personality detailed, humorous and unmistakable on a sheet of paper. "A caricature should open the eyes of the beholder", he says.

Jan./Feb. 2004, Car-i-ca-ture Magazine

Biography – Paddy Boehm

I don't want to go too far in the past. You know all of the clichés about "born with a pencil in the hand" and so on . Like many others I liked comics in my childhood. The artists that I liked most were Albert Uderzo (Asterix), Morris (Lucky Luke), André Franquin (Spirou, Gaston), Jean Tabary (Isnogud), Hergé (Tintin). I read also Mickey Mouse and later Mad, but I think my roots are more European. My dream was to become a comic book artist. Future showed me that I do not comics, but caricatures.

I think the first portrait caricature artist that I recognized was Volker Ernsting. He had drawn cartoons and caricatures for the German TV-Magazine "Hoerzu" (which translates as "Listen to", it began as a radio magazine). His caricatures of German national soccer teams are legendary. I read in an interview that he was also a great influence to Krueger.

I was only 14 years old when my younger brother Tim and I started our very own magazine. It was actually Tim's idea and at the tender age of eight, he was years ahead of his time. I helped him with the layout and did almost all of the cover illustrations.

The magazine was called "Zeitlupe". This is a word play. It is similar to the German word for magazine: "Zeitschrift". "Zeit" means "time" and "Lupe" means "lens", but "Zeitlupe" also means "slow motion". It loses something in the translation to English.

My brother's nickname is "Igel" which means "hedgehog". Thus we called our publishing house "Igolin Verlag". We were just kids, so it was not a real business. That is why you can find all these hedgehog-noses in our drawings. We were both great friends of parodies. On the cover of the magazine we did parodies of famous paintings, films and so on. In the beginning they all had the signature hedgehog nose.

I was still a teenager when I saw my first Krueger drawing. It was in an add out for an old Gemini magazine called "Der Spiegel". It depicted former German chancellor Helmut Kohl asleep at his table. I was mortified and it kicked me off of my feet. I had seen many caricatures prior to that, but the Krueger drawing was breathtaking and unbelievable. After that emotional breakthrough, I began to look for every thing rendered by this amazing artist. He made cover illustrations for the satire magazine "Kowalski". By then Sebastian Krueger was well established as an illustrator in Germany and his work was gracing the cover of many publications.

Other influences are French caricaturists Jean Mulatier and Jean Morchoisne. Each of them drew with colour pencils and in turn colour pencils became my favourite medium.

I had art and English as "Leistungskurs" (major field of study) the last two years at high school. Still, with the dream of becoming a world famous caricature artist and/or illustrator, I studied graphic design. I didn't do much in the way of caricature during the time between 1994 and 2000. But eventually I made my studies in graphic design work in my favour.

In 1998 and 1999 I restarted working on "my caricatures". I made lots of studies in black & white (proportions, lights and shadows, ...). In the year 2000 I began to seriously introduce colour into my work. I was putting colour into some of my caricatures previously, but at this point I begun to illustrate my work. I was spending all of my extra time focusing on the art form.

Along came the discovery of the possibilities of the internet. By the year 2001 I had found 1000s of great caricature artists that I had never heard of. First and foremost was Jan Op de Beeck. His monthly contests were a thing to be reckoned. I was voted 3rd place for my drawing of Steven Spielberg in the year 2001 and 2nd place for Guenter Grass in the year 2003.

Together wit a colleague at work I began to build a web site. I utilized my time at work to complete this task. I have been online since July of 2002 and have had great success, even up to this day. I am very pleased and fortunate to announce that I received more and more visitors each day and it simply amazes me. In addition to commissioned work, I get to know more and more artists that do what I do. My work and name has become more popular. That is my story so far and I am very curious to see what the future will bring.

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