Ty, the Rambling Artist
The art of making drawing smiles and making connections, anywhere in the world.
*first draft, pardon the boo boos.
I’m pretty certain that in any industry, occupation, or what have you, that we have all encountered a few customers whom seem to be lacking in intelligence. Now sometimes this perception of ours can be unjust. After all, Einstein said that you can’t compare how well a monkey clibs a tree to an elephant climbing a tree, or some nonsense like that. My point is, sometimes people may appear to be dim witted in our view, but they most probably have redeeming values of greatness in skill sets that we may never see. Think about it, most encounters with our customers or guests are slivers of moments in comparison of the big picture of life itself.
I’ve had the pleasure of drawing a plethora of people from all walks of life in my career as a street artist. Recently I was drawing a crowd of smiles at a museum fundraiser. A gala event full of acedenmic types. Professors and u oversight department heads from all over the state were at this event. The casual uplifting banter was delightful and on a cerebral level that I was the moron. I may have been the most happy enjoyable Moron. These brainiacs have ever encountered. Who knows what stories of my idiotic perceptions they may be telling their colleagues at the water cooler. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
There have been times to note that I was the cerebral heavyweight in the room. Ponder that for a moment, yes, me being the smart one in the room. It’s a sad state of humanity when a street artist is the goto guy for wisdom. One particular event that this occurred happened a while back. I was a young adventurous art guy drawing smiles at state fairs around the country. It’s tough work to be a “carney”. There was decent money to be made, but tough work. The travel from state to state amounted to long days on the road. For me, my long road trip traveling days were done in a 1972 Volkswagen Westfalia. No air conditioning, leaked a little oil. Sometimes the left speaker would go out. This vehicle is still by far my favorite former vehicle I’ve ever owned. Not for its mechanical ability, good god something was always breaking down on it. This big white shoebox design was my favorite vehicle because of all the memories and adventures I had traveling from one state fair to another.that Volkswagen bus took me to almost all the national parks in the western states. It was a sorta safe shelter in some horrendous weather. On those long empty highways between lower badlands of Utah and the civilized cities of Salt Lake, it was my companion. My only companion on the road. Very much like the volleyball was to Tom Hanks in that movie where he was stranded on an island. My bus was my Wilson.
My Volkswagen I shall now name Wilson and I were working the fair circuit one year. This was the last year of drawing crowds at state fairs for me. I felt it coming. It was burnout. We’ve all experienced it in one form or fashion. I was ready to move on to something else, like a nice art director job. Which actually I did move into. More on that later.
Where was I? Oh, yes, I was suffering from the early stages of burn out while working the state fair circuit as a caricature artist. A Carey who drew crowds of smiles. What a wonderful time it was up to the burn out. Then it got ugly. Just everything seemed to fit wrong with me. It was me, not them, not anyone, but me. My attitude plummeted to the desire to be a hermit. Actually, I guess I kinda was a hermit, traveling in my little Westfalia home on wheels. Setting up art displays at state fairs. Working long hard hours from sunrise to late after midnight in most cases. It was tedious work. The Carney life is a hard life. It’s fun for a little while while you find amusement in being set up to a guy who has a conspiracy theory for everything. Crazy Carey’s set up their booths on your isle can prove to be brilliant entertainment t, but it to begins to wear on you. When you catch yourself buying into the conspiracy theories about the Aliens from outer space and John F. Kennedy not being assassinated, but just going back to his home planet, then it’s time to get out of the fair circuit.
Not that that actually ever happened….
I remember one fair I was done. My soul had a spiritual departure from my body a week before this particular moment and the fair had another three days to go. I was at my caricature stand watching the crowd of people flow back and forth down the vendor isles. The a family of people stopped in front of my stand and just starred at my displays. Mind you, have you ever seen the TV sitcom “Night Court”? There used to be this hillbilly family that would show up in the court from time to time. YouTube it, you will find them. Well, this family in front of my stand was the living parody of that hillbilly family. Straight out of the ozarks. The mom, the dad, the kids. Maybe mom and dad were sister and brother. It could have been possible.
They just stood there looking at my samples and signage. I had front view samples. I had side view samples. I had prices for front views. I had prices for side views. I had prices for couples and groups. I had prices for color or black and white drawings. I could understand how this was overwhelming for these folks. I would make attempts to interact with them. I’d ask questions like “Can I help you?” Or “What would y’all like to be drawn doing in your caricature?” Or “Y’all have the same ears, y’all must be cousins.”
Crickets. Nothing. Natalie. Absolutely no response or acknowledgement that I was there. They just kept to the,selves very quiet with an occasional whisper to one another. Until finally the one that I presumed to be the father or Older brother, or both came up to me and asks. “Hey, what’s a front view?”
This was the exact moment that I knew it was time to quit the road. I paused and looked at his blank stare and I calmly replied “two eyes, a nose and a mouth, sometimes a chin, pending on the subject.”
From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.