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Artist James Baggett

1._james_at_work~ 'A little scribble every day' ~

In a small apartment in Cole Bay, WEEKender met a humble man with a great talent. Working with few resources, university-trained sketch artist James Baggett is dreaming and drawing, keeping his ambitions alive one pencil stroke at a time. When asked about his work habits, he understatedly commented, "Oh, I try to do a little scribble every day." It seems he does considerably more than that.

Last week's elections inspired Baggett to post on his facebook page a couple of caricatures that had likes, comments and shares aplenty. According to dictionary.reference.com, a caricature is "a picture, ludicrously exaggerating the peculiarities of persons." Check out his facebook page "Art by James A Baggett" to see a selection of the caricatures of some of our local politicians that had cyberspace buzzing. More of his work can be viewed at http://punch-line-designs.deviantart.com/

Baggett is from the United States, a southern gentleman who knows his manners well. He attended University of Maryland Eastern Shore and in 2013 earned his Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Elizabeth City State University in his home state of North Carolina. He is skilled at painting and drawing as well as the computer methods of graphic arts. He has done commissioned sketches at Comicon conventions. His interest in cartoon illustrations led him to an internship at Coldstream Studios which specializes in comic book animation and printmaking.

For 10 years, he maintained an online friendship via the website Hi5 with Sharona Higgs here on St. Maarten. In time, love began to bloom. Although he had never been to the Caribbean, he came to realize that this girl was more than a friend; she and St. Maarten were his destiny. The two were wed last August. Since that time, Baggett has worked for a few different companies, but has yet to find a job that allows him to use his creativity to its fullest. At his kitchen table, he composes images using pencil, ink and chalk pastels. "I have so many sketch pads, it's ridiculous," he said as he went through his portfolios. "I just keep working it, trying to get better all the time."

Baggett has influences from both fine art and pop art. He called up the classic artists Lautrec, Gaugin, Chagall, Rodan and DaVinci. Other strong influences are ironic imagery of Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Marcel Duchamp. In the more modern influences, he specifically looks to Alex Ross, who brings the techniques of classic fine art into the realm of comic book imagery. The genre of animation and cartoon is not just for kids, he contends, saying it takes a huge amount of work to do it right and its effects are significant. "Creating a character that enters into the public world – something that is iconic and that is recognized for generations – is a way of being immortal. If you do that, you've really done something."

For Baggett, art has always been his passion. He says he has always been drawing and realized around age 10 that he could "go somewhere with this." That was when he won third place in an art contest for the design of a wildlife conservation stamp in 1997. At 14, he was too young to enter the Art Instruction School program, but eventually he entered and earned his diploma from that famous institution while attending university full time.

Some of his favourite subjects are his friends and family, including his wife. Working from photos or sketching with a live model, he enjoys creating portraits that capture something special. This is perhaps where his latest interest in caricatures stems from. A great deal of his work features the female form. Currently, he is working on a collection he calls "Caribbean Cuties" showing a different woman from various islands. With a personal interest in boxing, he often depicts characters in the ring; but he admits, "I'm not really a sports guy." He says he works according to his moods, anytime of day can be the right time. He plays some music – jazz or classic rock – to get in the right frame of mind, sits at his kitchen table, pulls out one of his many sketch pads and gets down to work...scribbling.

Check out Baggett's website punch-line-designs.com or his facebook page: Art by James A Baggett to find out more and browse his illustrations.

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