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Local artists hone their craft

Cary Ashby • Aug 29, 2016 at 11:00 AM

SANDUSKY — It takes artist Caroline Plank two to three minutes to draw her initial caricature.

About 15 minutes later, the 17-year-old Wakeman girl has the finished product — color and all.

“You have to be able to exaggerate,” she said, referring to someone’s features. “If you do too much, it won’t look anything like the person.”

The Western Reserve junior talked about the process for creating caricatures at Cedar Point.

The first part is talking to the client, starting a relationship and asking about his or her interests and job. Plank said if the person isn’t forthcoming, “I usually pick two or three things to exaggerate and the rest I leave normal.”

Plank also takes time to study her client’s face.

“I’ll take a look at their face and look away. I’ll try to keep in mind what stood out,” said the teenager, who is a junior in the visual media tech program at EHOVE Career Center.

Plank is a first-year employee with Kaman’s Art Shoppe. The Chagrin Falls-based business has 22 locations at Cedar Point. Kaman’s has partnered with the amusement park for 30 years.

“We are looking for someone who is energetic, outgoing and not afraid to talk to total strangers — people (who) enjoy people,” said Jamie Smith, Kaman’s contract manager.

Smith was asked what are the advantages of having visual media tech students or graduates working at Kaman’s booths. 

“They have an innate sense of laying out a T-shirt,” she said, mentioning artists know how to combine multiple elements.

“They are able to guide the guest,” Smith added.

Perkins graduate Nikolai Olsen is in his second year working for Kaman’s. He was worked at Cedar Point for four years, the first two in the food industry. Olsen considered returning for his third summer, but decided working in an art booth might further his career.

Kaman’s officials often come to EHOVE, sharing information with students in jobs doing antique photos, body art and caricatures.

But working at Cedar Point has taught Olsen workplace skills he wouldn’t learn in the classroom, such as the importance of product placement. The airbrush booth features art of Iron Man, Deadpool and Pokemon as well as names in bold, creative lettering.

“If they see it and like it, they might pick it up and buy it,” said Olsen, who is training to be an airbrush artist. “Usually we get a lot of gamer requests.”

At the airbrush booth, potential customers may share a photo they have on their phone or choose a piece from the portfolio to be placed on a T-shirt.

“Anybody can bring in their own picture,” Olsen said. “Sometimes people bring in their own artwork.”

“It usually takes a solid year to become an artist,” Smith added.

Potential portrait and caricature artists are asked to audition before Cedar Point opens. Once hired, they have mandatory training sessions during the park season to perfect their craft.

What Smith appreciates and respects about Plank is she sees the Western student drawing constantly — even on her breaks.

“Caroline has a lot of talent. She has a lot of natural talent,” Smith said. “She’s always trying to hone her craft.”

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