Dear Journalist,
You may appropriate any part of this news release. All material in quotes should be attributed to the artist, Don Swartzentruber. For further interview questions or material contact the artist.

He consistently hammers out entertaining and extraordinary likenesses. He want each person to leave eager to hang their picture. His objective is to bridge caricature and fine illustration.

In elementary school Don won an award for drawing his teachers. At thirteen Don was enraptured by the caricature artists at the World's Fair. He watched Bruce Blitz and several of the other artists who entertained the large international crowds.  

In seven short minutes he is able to create a beautiful illustrated portrait with a fun theme. This includes full pastel color.

Already submersed in caricature work, Don signed his first State Fair contract in 1983 at the age of sixteen. “I learn the caricature trade like a gypsy, peddling at festivals up and down the east coast and around various other parts of the nation on summer tours." An eclectic list of training and around thirty years of professional experience make his work stand out from his peers.

Don works out of the Winona Lake, Indiana area. He has entertained in over a dozen states. He primarily accepts offers in the Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Toledo area. His schedule each summer is posted on

He says that his objective is to earn affirmation for the portrait likeness and a laugh from the theme. He studied with a Disney animator for whom he attribute the gentle humor that is incorporate into the picture. He discovered early in his career that people enjoy a playful caricatured exaggeration over grotesque distortion. In reviewing his examples, it becomes clear that he leans more towards portrait over cartoon. The artist said, "Occasionally I have people a more exagerated style and I am more then happy to oblige”

Much attention has been given to the large anthology of themes he has developed. Careers, hobbies, sports and dreams...the sky is the limit. Don says, "I've had the privilege of drawing people from all walks of life, FBI agent, bioscience researcher, pro golfer, Olympic athletes, politicians and entertainers. It is fun projecting people into their fantasies...the lady who want to be a "beach babe" as a gift for her husbands, or a kid who wants to play major league baseball." Don says that some patrons ask him to decide the theme. This becomes a real treat for the audience.

Don studied under Disney Animator Milt Neil. He went on to study under a wide variety of mentors. He concluded eight years of post-secondary education with a Master of Fine Arts degree from Vermont College of Norwich University. He has invested a substantial amount of time studying and teaching portraiture. He is an art instructor at Warsaw High School, and adjunct professor at Grace College.

In addition to teaching he creates caricatures from photography via mail orders that are ordered as gifts. The more laborious watercolor caricature is favored. "I move through several stages starting with a light pencil sketch, a watercolor wash, soft pastel color, and final detail with prisma color,"

A quick look over the client list exemplifies the diversity of events the artist has done; bar mitzvahs, class reunions, fundraisers, conventions, and of course lots of company Christmas parties. Clients include; Sony, R.R. Donnelley's, Lincoln Life, the Delaware Symphony, and Notre Dame. He always makes the evening memorable, and the attendees take home a souvenir.

Don is also a contemporary artist who has exhibited in over 50 galleries and museums. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants for his studio practice.

"Drawing Crowds" by Donna Morgan
Delaware State News, Dover, Delaware, July 23, 1987

Don M. Swartzentruber draws the stars - and those not so stellar. Swartzentruber, a 20-year old Greenwood caricaturist, attended Joe Kubert School of Graphic Art for two years, but has been drawing professionally for four years. Swartzentruber is now plying his trade at the Delaware State Fair. Displayed in his work area, beside the administration building are likenesses of President Reagan, Clark Gable, Alfred E. Neuman, Bill Cosby... While he does take requests for celebrity drawings, Swartzentruber prefers rendering ordinary people. 'When I attract a small crowd, other people come over to see what's going on,' said Swartzentruber. 'They look at the person I'm drawing and they look at my work to make sure I get it right.' Caricature is the art of capturing a human face by exaggerating outstanding features, thus adding a humorous insight. Swartzentruber also tries to determine his model's hobby or career so he can incorporate that into the sketch. 'Everyone's features are different,' he said. 'I look at the slant of the eyes, the shape of the jaw line, their nose and mouth. There is always one feature that stands out. Swartzentruber, who has been drawing 'since I could stand up," was always interested in caricatures and animation. At Greenwood Mennonite School, he was always sketching his teachers and classmates instead of taking notes. But, it was not until he saw a caricaturist as work at the World's Fair, in Knoxville, Tenn, when he was 15, that he became totally captivated. 'I sat down with him, and watched him work all day," said Swartzentruber. "I picked up the style form him and came home and tried it. I started out doing my family.' The young artist works in pastel chalk and ink markers and averages 15 minutes per caricature. His state fair price is $10 and he's usually there from 5pm until closing. 'A lot of people see my display and think I only do stars,' said Swartzentruber. 'But my basic purpose is to draw their caricature.' Swartzentruber thinks he may be the only caricaturist in southern Delaware, maybe the state. 'It's hard to make it as a freelance artist in this area,' he said. 'But I'll see what the market is.' When Swartzentruber is not drawing on-location, he works from his home studio putting together a portfolio for presentation to potential clients - business, individuals seeking unique entertainment at parties, groups holding conventions, family reunions, weddings...

Return to Home Page