By Bruce Sullivan
“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” ~ Whistler If so, 33 year-old Spencer artist Mike Briggs must have better than 20/20 vision. Briggs can see things within us that no mirror can reveal. He is a professional artist who specializes in caricatures and other humorous illustrations. He regularly contributes to the most viewed Red Sox fan site ~ bostondirtdogs.com ~ and his latest venture, Mikebriggz.com, offers clients the chance to land a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Briggs grew up in East Brookfield with a passion for art. “By high school, I was drawing regularly…I was warned it was a tough field, but [was] never discouraged.”
Young people can afford to follow their passions, but usually by their mid-twenties financial reality forces tough decisions and, quite often, change. At 24, Mike was working in an infirmary. Then one day in January of 2002, he saw an online ad posted by famous Mad Magazine artist Tom Richmond for an opening as a caricaturist at Six Flags. It took guts, but Mike responded.
“I was nervous; I didn’t like the idea of creating art in front of people.” But Mike pushed ahead, and by April, he was creating his first drawing at Richmond’s booth. “The first one was a disaster,” laughs Mike. “I had Tom Richmond looking over my shoulder, and he ended up having to redraw it.” Mike also shares with a grin that “Later that summer, I made a twelve year old girl cry.” But Tom, and especially his boss Ed Steckley, whom Mike cites as his greatest influence, were very supportive, and before long Mike had mastered his technique.
Mike remembers some pretty interesting customers. “A couple approached me and asked to be drawn with whips and chains. While I’m drawing it, a little kid comes over to watch. I hear the woman ask, ‘Does that look like Mommy?’” Another time, Mike asked a man for his eye color: “He pulled out a glass eye, and said, ‘You tell me.’” With couples, it’s always the same story: “Women say, ‘Don’t make me look funny, and make my boobs bigger,’ so we draw the women hot and the guys goofy. We know who the boss is.”
Today, Mike Briggs now heads that booth, and he’s the one looking over the young artist’s shoulder. Moreover, with www.Mikebriggz.com, he can now share his work. On the site, Mike, who always works in person with his subject or from a reference photo, takes caricature orders for gifts, weddings, and concert posters. Briggs also specializes in drawing sports celebrities, and recently drew one for his first in-person celebrity, Jacoby Elsberry, and Jacoby signed and auctioned it off for charity. Mike also lends his talents to parties and other events.
Check out Mike Briggs’ distinctive style on his site, or find him on Facebook under Briggz Illustration.
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