Joanne Brooker is a caricaturist, illustrator and painter. She
lived in Dubai until recently, but is currently based in Doha Qatar.
By Anupama V Chand for Friday magazine
Credit: Supplied picture
her stint in Dubai, Joanne Brooker taught caricature at several
Me and caricature
I still remember the instance when
at the age of five, I was trying to draw a rose. My final drawing comprised
several round scribbles with a stick stem. But when another child commented that
the scribbles looked like petals I was amazed. From that moment on all I wanted
to do was to figure out how to make lines into objects. I used to draw all the
time at school, even when I should have been working. The most obvious thing to
draw was the teacher! That was how I learnt caricature and its various nuances.
I was constantly surprised by the praise I received for my drawings. Doing
caricatures professionally wasn't a difficult move for me - from drawing
teachers I simply went on to draw politicians at the News Limited newspapers. I
worked for ten years under the name Applegate!
Awards are just a small part of artistic
Winning awards has been a humbling experience. I was
named the Best Artist at the Queensland Media Awards on four occasions; Best
Artist, Best Caricaturist and Best Realistic Illustration at the Stanley Awards
for Media and NSW Journalist Best Artwork as well as dozens of other media art
After leaving the newspaper world in 2001, I was encouraged to take my
interests overseas. From 2002 I worked in China as a caricature entertainer. I
believe you have to be passionate about everything you do to do it well. I have
also enjoyed exhibiting around the world, travelling to South America, India,
Spain, China and Turkey.
Caricature is about facial recognition and a caricaturist understands that.
We all have the ability to recognise faces but are not aware of the thought
process that is instinctive to us all from birth. I look for the features on a
face that I recognise in that person and then I exaggerate them. A caricature
looks more like the person than a regular drawing as it mimics the way the brain
sees faces. I then add my feelings and what I want to say about that person. If
I feel strongly about the subject then the caricature is strong. That is what
makes caricature powerful as it can be more honest than some subjects are
comfortable with. Most caricatures take minutes to draw but there is a lot of
thinking going on before I put pen to paper. Once the face is in my head, it is
easily transferred to paper. There is nothing as enjoyable as to give a
colleague, family member, friend or client a caricature of
My Dubai sojourn
I used to lived in JBR at a time when it wasn't very populated and we often
had the beach to ourselves. The apartment also offered great sea
My Dubai stint included teaching caricature at several schools, which was
great fun. I found that the kids in the UAE are very open and confident. I also
did caricatures at the Atlantis, which was a successful venture and I wish it
could have continued.
My main project at that time was drawing caricatures of people across Dubai.
I wanted to find a way to meet and connect with people of all nationalities and
cultures. I and a fellow artist went around Dubai covering the fish market,
souqs, clubs, barber shops, restaurants, building sites, camel farms and the
Dubai Financial Centre. We drew caricatures and gave them away in return for a
Laughter is the best medicine
I don't think people have forgotten to laugh - in fact, we look for
opportunities to laugh as much as possible. The stresses of life make it vital
that we take time out to lighten up. As a caricaturist I love to make people
One secret to living life to the fullest...
Don't take yourself too seriously, no one else
Who is your all-time favourite caricature artist?
Sebastian Kruger who made caricature to be recognised as a
Things that you love and hate about Dubai?I
love the drama and its crazy originality. Hate is too harsh a word but I was
disappointed that the financial crisis caused the worst to come out in some
people. I hope that one day Dubai will welcome back people who wanted to be a
part of the city in spirit or even if just for the money.
Can computer animation replace the art of
caricature?No way. Nothing replaces the hand of an artist.
Interviewer Anupama V Chand is a Dubai-based