Caricature artist reflects on 30 years drawing at Disney World

For just about 30 several years, Keelan Parham has drawn faces at Walt Disney Entire world. Plenty of time has passed for mullets to be in model, slide out of favor and then come back into fashion all over again.

Holidaymakers and locals, even the occasional movie star, observed caricatures as the perfect memento, a thing hand-drawn and one particular of a form. Parham figures he’s illustrated at minimum 50 percent a million men and women throughout his profession.

“I just kept performing it,” Parham reported. “The cause is, due to the fact every person that sits down, each individual encounter is a new challenge. … It definitely hardly ever gets aged. … I consider there is magnificence in everybody’s experience.”

His position is to seize it on paper.

Orlando’s theme park equipment provides economic possibilities and attracts in creative individuals, like Parham, who make Central Florida their everlasting dwelling.

Parham’s resume was colorful — model, Elvis impersonator, lifeguard — when he answered an advert in the Orlando Sentinel for a job as a Disney caricature artist in the early 1990s. He was also skillfully properly trained as an artist with an illustration diploma from Savannah College of Art and Layout. It is exactly where a kid like Parham growing up in the South who inhaled comedian guides and cherished to attract went to examine.

Parham landed the occupation at Disney. He figured he may possibly final a 7 days or so and then give up.

“I did not like it. I did not like the possibility of rejection,” Parham claimed. “Sometimes men and women see by themselves in different ways than everyone else sees on their own. So I had to uncover a design that the two captured their likeness, but they appreciated it well plenty of to buy.”

Parham did not stop right absent. In reality, very the opposite. Twenty-nine decades later, he stays at Disney.

“I get to draw at the Happiest Spot on Earth. There is incredibly couple occasions when I’m drawing somebody who is not joyful,” he mentioned.

Parham’s perform as a caricature artist has progressed into becoming an entrepreneur. He and his spouse, Barbara, founded Inventive Talent Team and commenced partnering with Disney in 1999. These days, their small business hires about 50 artists who draw at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, numerous Disney resorts and The Art Corner, which is their store at Disney Springs.

Often, you can place Parham and his staff of artists at the festivals in Epcot, like this year’s upcoming Global Food stuff and Wine Competition wherever they will be drawing “corktoons” — caricatures drawn on wine corks.

Parham’s business also is employed to build art for functions and functions. Parham has been requested to attract at a latest Check out Orlando-hosted occasion, a mortuary convention, a birthday social gathering for a Saudi Arabian princess, a human body-creating contest and almost everything in in between. Parham also has drawn routinely for people and sufferers at Orlando Health and fitness Arnold Palmer Clinic For Young children.

Some of his buyers have been famed, despite the fact that Parham has a knack for missing out. Singer Usher and boxer Evander Holyfield the two sat down for a cartoonish portrait at Parham’s stands.

“I haven’t really drawn that quite a few famous people, to be sincere with you. It always seemed like it would occur on days I wasn’t at the stand,” Parham claimed. “My largest assert to fame was drawing a monkey that was on the David Letterman Show,” he joked.

A single client was a 7-calendar year-old boy with a vivid creativeness who was on a Disney holiday with his family. The boy hung his cowboy-themed caricature on the wall in his bed room in Pineville, Kentucky and returned just about every calendar year to get an additional one particular.

That boy grew up to be 19-yr-previous Braden Mills, who confident Parham to employ the service of him as an artist. On Wednesday, Mills manned the caricature stand at Hollywood Studios in entrance of the Tower of Terror ride.

“I’d under no circumstances considered I’d be in this article,” Mills reported, marveling at how he was executing what he loved: drawing at Disney.


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