Drawing inspiration from the All Blacks

Last updated 13:01 26/08/2011

Andrew Dunn explains how he has produced caricatures of the 2011 Rugby World Cup All Blacks squad.

Victor Vito
Victor Vito
Colin Slade
Colin Slade
Tana Umaga
Tana Umaga
Andrew Dunn
HANDY WORK: Andrew Dunn is surrounded by the All Blacks World Cup squad.

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When Tana Umaga walked into the video store where caricaturist Andrew Dunn was working in Lower Hutt, Dunn couldn't believe the work he'd done on the former All Blacks captain a couple weeks before wasn't on hand.

Dunn brought in his portrait the very next day, but had to wait a year before the rugby legend returned.

"It was my last shift and it was still there when he walked in," said Dunn.

"He just gave me a knowing nod and wink and signed it. That's my closest brush with somebody famous who I've caricatured."

The 34-year-old Brit, who moved to New Zealand with his Kiwi wife eight years ago, got up close and personal with the current All Blacks squad, when he provided stuff.co.nz with a gallery.

While All Black fans and commentators have been dissecting the squad since it was announced, Dunn spent nearly 12 months dissecting their features.

The Wellington-based artist, who's been sketching professionally for ten years, began drawing the All Blacks last August as part of his blog project (http://rwccaricatures.blogspot.com/) to draw 100 caricatures in a year.

The self-confessed sports fan concentrated mostly on rugby figures, drawing on their on-field personas and representation in the media. Each portrait took about two hours.

"For me, it's about bringing in their traits and personality and trying to feed that through the expression.

I make a lot of judgments based on what they look like as well, but then I guess we all do. We all make those face-value judgments on people on how they look straightaway, but hopefully I'm softening things up and injecting a certain sense of humour."

Following the squad announcement, it was the curious inclusions of Victor Vito and Anthony Boric that had Dunn scrambling to get their caricatures done.

"With Victor I wanted to capture some of his shock and surprise at being selected, but because of the tight deadline I just really wanted to turnaround something that captured a definite likeness."

It would be easy to assume all rugby players are natural caricatures, and while Dunn found the All Blacks' front row easy to capture, others turned out to be more complicated.

"Colin Slade was quite tricky. I had a dozen reference photographs from his late teens but now he's in his early 20s and gone through a physical change - there never seemed to be one image that stuck with me, which said 'this' is the one one you want to caricature.

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"There are many features which are quite prominent and worth celebrating, so it's about knowing which one to draw out more and which one to push back in the background."

Born in Salford near Manchester, Dunn was inspired to sketch by the British satirical TV show Spitting Image, featuring puppet caricatures of famous celebrities in the 1980s and 90s.

"I'm not politically-minded. I see it as more of a celebration of people's features, rather than putting anybody down.

"I like people to see the world slightly differently and be able to giggle. There are too many photoshopped and airbrushed images around these days telling people 'this is the way you're meant to be and look'."

Dunn frequently draws on-the-spot "lightning caricatures" at festivals, fairs and corporate events around the country and says he's had no complaints so far about his distorted images.

"I think if somebody takes offence to being caricatured, they're sort of missing the point." Dunn will be at Frank Kitts market every weekend throughout September and October.

- Stuff


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