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Caricature Artist Continues to Capture Likenesses at Fair

by and on August 12, 2017 12:05 AM

BELLEFONTE — Chip Mock never forgets a face, and he’s seen many. Mock has been a caricature artist for more than 38 years, capturing faces around State College in two minutes or less. His attention to detail — and ability to make people look more like themselves than even they do —has made Mock one of the most well-known caricature artists in the area.

What exactly is a caricature?

“It’s a simplification,” says Mock. “You want to make an image look more like itself, so you know what it is or who it is immediately. It’s being able to transfer 3D information into very simple 2D lines.”

Mock first starts with the nose, mouth and other interiors, eventually ending with the hair.

“Sometimes people will say it doesn’t look like them, but as soon as I put the hair on and close the face, people say it makes a lot more sense to them,” he says.

But the real trick to capturing likeness?

“It’s all in the eyes,” he says. “If I can draw your eyes, I can pretty much do anything else and it will still look like you.”

Due to their simple lines and the short time it takes to draw one, some assume that a caricature is one of the easier art forms. Mock insists that is not so. A good caricature is the product of years of practice and a technical understanding of drawing.

Drawing has always come naturally to Mock, even as a young child.

“Kindergarten was really my first experience with children drawing at the same time as me, and apparently I came home and didn’t understand why the other kid’s pictures didn’t look like anything,” he says. “I thought everyone could draw.”

He continued to draw through adolescence, eventually joining the Art Institute of Pittsburgh to study visual communications and graphic design and illustration. It was there that he studied under John Johns, a well-known Pittsburgh caricature artist who had kindled Mock’s interest in the art form years earlier.

“As a child, every Sunday we would get the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette newspaper and inside there would be the TV graphic, because in the 1960s to see what was on TV, you would need a newspaper,” he says. “On the covers there were illustrations by Pittsburgh artist John Johns, so I grew up admiring his art of Lucille Ball and all these older comedians and movie stars.”

When Johns offered a caricature workshop at the art institute, Mock jumped at the chance and quickly surpassed his other classmates in skill.

“Something clicked quickly,” he says. “I was immediately one of the faster people out there. Some people struggled with likeness, I never struggled.”

After only one month, Mock was picked to draw at The Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh with a few other chosen classmates.

It was this experience of drawing in real time and being able to interact with his subjects that led Mock to pursue caricature drawing professionally. He soon moved to the State College area, where he participated in the first Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair.

Mock has drawn for parties and for weddings, but it is in the festival setting where he is most comfortable. The art is instant and there is no pressure or deadline.

Mock is back at the 34th annual fair, which continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as the longest participating vendor. In the 34 years the fair has been running, Mock has missed only one. He was even awarded the Silver Anniversary Award during the Fair’s 25th year for having participated longer than any other artist.

Over that time he’s drawn thousands of faces. He draws children who years later bring their own children to be drawn. People keep coming back because of Mock’s uncanny ability to capture who they are after only seeing them for 2 minutes.

“When I see a face I just know what I have to do,” he says. “Something in there lets me know what to do to make it look more like them.”

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Courtney DeVita
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