Ty, the Rambling Artist
The art of making drawing smiles and making connections, anywhere in the world.
This time of year gets me thinking about the time I worked a gig for; as the client of this gig, refer to himself as “The Hispanic Sopranos”.
It was in September. Septembers in Texas to me was always filled with that sense of time to put summer to rest. Get yourself ready for the fall season of festivals, fairs and smiles. Prepare for a creative hybernation in the winter. In nature the snakes shed their skins, the catapeller starts apraising cocoons. Sycamore trees outgrow their own bark. And the artist continue to ponder as they cycle through their process. September is a little stretch of the creative process. In folklore and bar bragging circles, it’s the beginning of the school year. Imagine that. My evening drawing smiles with the Hispanic Sopranos was like my first day of school.
The Hispanic Sopranos of September
. [cue the Spanish guitar, spaghetti western whistle].
Now before we get into this story, I must tell you upfront. Their are suspicions of questionable activities. There are possible legal strings attached to one person or another in this tale of drawing smiles in the pit of a real life super villain. Well, sort of. Possible. My host at this gig was incredibly awesome. I could not have asked for a better leader of the event that this man, who shall remain anonymous. Please, for my own safety, don’t pry.
The client himself told me “My family, we are like the Hispanic Sopranos. ” he then looked me straight in the eye and the entire world froze. At that very second my soul would either get me killed, or buy me at least six hours till the end of the gig. Without a pause, “You’re the Hispanic Sopranos?”That explains all the blinged out Low Riders out front. I dig the matching red velvet Escalades. “. And he stepped back and looked at me, then squinted, then busted into laughter. “yeah”, he said “my wife likes us wear matching outfits.”
There are rented parking lot attendants and they are guiding cars into a side pasture of this huge ranch spread that’s hours from anything. This parking operation was just shy of a state fair level operation, but no trams. It’s a good hike to the event tent. The main event is in a circus tent out on the back pasture by the big pond. They have about every imaginable inflatable balloon obstacle courses, giant slides, bounce houses with basements, everything. Then there are a bunch of 10×10 satellite tents around the big tent. I’m one of the little tents. Remind me to tell you about the tent flap.
On the walk to my tent I see a fenced area with shorter tubular sections of fencing leaned up against the fence. This fence was bottom half cinder block and top half wood and metal fencing. The fence was keeping us from reaching over and petting what must have been two dozen dogs and possibly a few gargoyles from the sounds coming from the other side of this fence. It wasn’t until we walked up next to a Band Touring Bus when a cloud of smoke comes rolling out the bus and three or four horn players in big puffy sleeves of bright baby blue stumbling and laughing among it. As they meandered down towards the big tent they sing a traditional Mexican love ballad ” Cu Cu Ru Cu Cu Paloma”, but with a Deep South blues twist. It was then that I realized the shorter, smaller fencing made of metal tubing was, in fact a large ring. I have no idea why it took me so long to figure out.
This is the flap about the Tent Flag prank.
My stand was first small tent to the right of the bar and buffet tent. There was a flap directly between the two of us. This flap was the greatest thing that ever happened by accident in a event set up that I am aware. Listen first to this and then top it in your comments. please and thank you.
The Ol’ ” flap in the tent between the gig bartender and caricaturist ” routine.
Now listen to this set up. I stand and draw with a French Easel. Pretty standard set up, accept that I stand. I’ll explain another time. My guests, are sitting on two bar stools just to the left of the flap in the tent. When I start to draw them I give my standard greeting “Howdy, I’m Ty the Art Guy and y’all are? ….” Get their names, tell them to be comfortable, and ask do they need a drink or something to nibble on? It’s okay for them to do so while I draw them. Now if the tent wall on the back should bump behind them while this is all going on, I knew the bartender had the time to make a drink or get a waitress to bring some tapas or what knot. The bartender can hear my conversations with the guests. So when the guy says I could use another scotch, “bam”. There it is sticking out from the flap. Without missing a stroke while I’m drawing I let the guy know he has a drink with his name on it. The guests and the crowd watching, just love that little gag.
Back to the Hispanic Sopranos.
When I finally meet our client, he’s the guy I charge of everything the event, the business owner, he’s the guy. His finger snaps, somebody answers. He’s pretty cool about all of this too. He said it’s a party for his daughters birthday. That’s when he gave me the solid eye stare into my soul and layer down that line of being the Hispanic Sopranos. My reaction must have come across as cool and not alarmed because then he’d just laugh and proclaim to the masses gathered at his celebration “tonight we celebrate Family!” The crowd cheers, drinks inthe air. The Horn Section of the Band kicks off into some groove.
The client is all about five foot two. Maybe 225-250 varying the chains and bling he’s wearing that day. He has long, long kinda crazy jet black hair . It’s cousin IT style hair that was pulled back into a tail held by gold chains. Several gold chains wrapped his hair tail that was as long as he was tall. He had chains around his neck. Tons of chains. They cascaded from his goatee to his shoulders. He wore a white basketball jersey with no branding on it what so ever. And matching basketball shorts. And white with gold trim basketball shoes.
He was nice as he could be. Told several people that I was his special guest artist and anything I wanted I got. For the next six hours I had a couple glasses of wine and a plate of tacos. I sipped and nibbled as I drew smiles on a wide variety if people. There seemed to be a little of everyone here. The most out of place looking people were those that looked like they went to a suburbia gated community, community bible church. “Must be in HR or Probably accounting. ” I thought to myself. The client was the CEO of Indian casinos, nobody ever mentioned which ones.
During the six hours I drew truly all the stereo types I could imaging, for all races, it was just awesome the variety of faces and styles of people at this event. I drew this one guy who looked like one of the bad guys that Bruce Lee would whoop up on. He even had the scar on his cheek. Left side, closer to the ear than nose.
“So what do want to do in your cartoon of you?” In my best Ty the Art Guy way. His friends pipe in, “he works in the body shop”. Well okay, so I draw the guy working out a wrecked car with his fists, like he’s so tough he can make a wrecked car look like new withHis bare hands…never mind. It was a good quick sketch. His buddy were dying, “dude, he really drew you working in a body shop!” And they all died laughing. It was obvious there was a joke I was not getting. It was weeks later when I shared this story that someone told me “body shop” was slang for guys that acted as the muscle. Which if true, makes this story even funnier.
At the end of the event, the client made a point to come see me as I was packing up my gear. He gave me some wonderful praise for the job I did and the drawings I did of his daughter and very close friends were his favorites. Then he paid me in cash, all brand new $100 dollar bills. And then leans in and say to me “hey, you want a girl?” He then looked in the direction of some very attractive ladies and looked back at me. I calmly said, “you know, I’ve got a great lady waiting for me at home.” He smiled and slapped me on the shoulder and said, good for you. Then have me a couple a bills more.
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.