Drawing Denton: Free caricature artist brings the Square to life

Drawing Denton: Free caricature artist brings the Square to life

Drawing Denton: Free caricature artist brings the Square to life
August 07
17:01 2017

Amidst the typical flurry of faces wandering the Denton Square on a summer night, a man draws a curious crowd in with two words — free caricatures.

With a black Crayola marker moving furiously across the white paper, caricature artist Isidro Nunez, going by pseudonym Arte, draws sharp lines to mimic the faces in front of him.

As he shades in with a grey marker, he signs his Instagram handle, @IsidroArte, at the bottom, and, within five minutes, has handed an uncanny resemblance drawing to a shocked couple.

Arte, 32, has been providing free drawings to the Denton Square since the beginning of the summer.

“I just wanted to try it, there’s no other one in town I know of,” Arte said. “You don’t really see this often in general, just a dude with a small canvas drawing people for free.”

Located between LSA Burger Co. and Beth Marie’s Ice Cream Shop, the stand gets its core business from catching the overflow of families and large groups grabbing ice cream after dinner.

Once a person gets their one-of-a-kind drawing handed to them, it’s only a matter of seconds before a flood of people ask for one.

“Advertising comes easy,” Arte said, laughing. “Once one person gets drawn and people see that, everyone walks by and wants one too.”

While some people are comfortable in front of the small easel, most find the five minutes to feel extra long as they wait for the finished results.

UNT students Madison Green, Skylar Paulsen and Jessica De La Garcia all stood in front of Arte’s stand to get a drawing that encompassed their day together. While standing still as someone draws you in the middle of the Square might seem awkward, the friends agreed the outcome resulted in something they’d be able to cherish.

“[Standing and waiting] is awkward at first, but the finished drawing is worth it,” the friends said.

Arte shades in features on a family’s portrait. Kayla Henson

Besides the Square, Arte also draws at the farmer’s market every Saturday morning and receives many job offers for parties and events.

Though many of these locations have been a success, Arte noted not every spot in Denton is the best for a caricature artist.

“I tried setting up on Fry Street, but I love the Square more,” Arte said. “I would walk around Fry Street and people would get me drinks. Which is cool, but it’s just hard doing art there.”

His set up on the Square attracts a myriad of people who sit next to him while he draws, some of which he became friends with.

James Dolly, 22, is one of the musicians who has accompanied Arte this summer by playing guitar next to his stand.

“It kinda works really well as a team,” Dolly said. “If he starts getting a big line I’ll start playing music I think they’ll like. Or I’ll tell people who walk by to get a drawing and he’ll tell people to tip me as they leave.”

Arte also partakes in a “will paint for paint” service, in which he trades finished art for paint supplies or another artist’s work.

Considering himself a “green” artist, he also gets a majority of his materials from dumpster diving and repurposing tossed art supplies.

“I like to think of myself as a minimalist,” Arte said. “I try to spend as little as I can on supplies. My art is all about recycling and reusing.”

Arte has been creating art his entire life, though he just started caricatures within the past several years.

Through YouTube videos, online demonstrations and natural art skills, Arte grew confidence to take his artistry to the streets of Denton, and has received a positive reaction from the community.

Beth Marie’s has seen more business than ever this summer with people hearing about Arte’s free stand. Sophomore Bianca Vigil, 19, is an employee at the ice cream shop who has noticed the influx of customers.

“A lot of people come in groups holding their pictures,” Vigil said. “So, more people come in, and more people equals more ice cream.”

LSA Burger Co. has also seen a pattern of groups coming to the restaurant proudly holding their drawings, LSA employee Andrew Reagan said.

“Fridays and Saturdays [are] when we have a ton of people on the waiting list, so they usually go to him to get pictures,” Reagan, 19, said.

With natural talent and positive local support, Arte is determined to live the artist lifestyle to its fullest.

“People usually ask me if I do anything else, but I don’t,” Arte said. “This is what I do. I breathe, sleep, eat and I do art.”

Featured Image: Free caricature artist Isidro Nunez, going by pseudonym Arte, sets up in front of Mad World Record. Arte has been at this location since the beginning of this summer, while occasionally setting up inside the Denton Welcome Center. Kayla Henson

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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