April 19, 2014

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Through the eyes of a caricature artist

GRAFTON — Perfection is usually a key element in the eyes of an artist.

But for Grafton caricature artist Matthew Minnich, anything goes when his marker hits the paper.

With a subject less than 6 feet away, Minnich studies the face, then quickly turns his attention to his drawing board.

Less than two minutes later, a portrait appears on the paper — albeit a bit off from  the subject’s actual likeness. Instead it looks  more like a cartoon character.

“With a caricature, you can’t worry about perfection. The idea is in my mind, and nothing is perfect when it comes out,” Minnich said.

Minnich, 36, is a self-taught caricaturist, illustrator, Web designer and graphic designer.

By day, Minnich is a graphic artist for A-Roo Co. in Strongsville. At night, he allows his imagination to run wild.

Once his two children are in bed, Minnich takes to his drawing board and brings to life the images that have been in his mind all day.

“A caricature is the experience between me and the subject,” Minnich said from his art studio in his home.

Minnich said drawing caricatures allows him to visualize someone in a way others never would.

“I never worked at an amusement park — like Cedar Point — as a caricature artist,” he said. “They have a formula they are taught. For me, it depends on the person. I can draw the same person twice and wind up with a new drawing each time.”

Drawing and doodling have been a part of Minnich’s life since childhood. He remembers his first-grade teacher being thrilled by his artistic skills because he drew a person in motion when most 6-year-olds tended to draw flat characters.

“We, as human beings, feel the need to create, and it manifests in so many ways,” he said. “For some, they do not have an artistic outlet.”

The artist said he’s learned that his talent is a way to bring out a different side of him.

“I am a reserved person, but doing a caricature allows me to interact with others,” Minnich said.

Most of the time he is requested to draw at children’s parties, but he can sense when the adults want a caricature of themselves done, too.

And, while many subjects are pleased with the final product, there have been a few times when his drawings didn’t come out as the person had hoped.

“Some look at me, others don’t. Some smile, some don’t,” said Minnich. “A few have been offended, but most are thrilled to have it done.”

Using his background in cartoon art, Minnich is working his way toward becoming a published author and illustrator of children’s picture books.

In fact, he teaches children’s book classes at Polaris Cuyahoga Valley career centers, where his students are required to author and illustrate their own books by the end of the course.

“I, myself, have three to four picture books in progress now,” said Minnich. “The ideas come to me, and I hurry and start them. I have asked my

co-worker for help to finish the books. I would love to stay home and write and illustrate children’s books all day.

“But, for now, I do art for pleasure.”