Since he was a boy, Charles King has traveled through life with paper and pen, ready to sketch the world around him. In school, his teachers asked him to make drawings for various projects and made him the official artist of the bulletin board in the first grade. And though he went to college to study accounting, he found himself continually drawn back to the arts. While at a party one day, he sat in a corner and began sketching the guests. Soon a crowd had formed to watch, and people requested sketches of their friends. Once Charles had been invited to a few parties and paid for his services, he realized his drawings inspired fascination in those around him and gave him more joy than accounting, so he immediately switched to graphic design.
Charles’s art career has grown in bursts in the 35 years since those early days. His wife persuaded him to sell his early business and go into cartooning full time, and today he receives invitations to draw at large-scale events such as corporate conventions and trade shows. He draws cartoons from photographs for prices ranging from $100 to $1,000 for a color likeness. When performing for a crowd, Charles can draw about 30–60 sketches an hour, simultaneously producing miniature tornadoes with the rapid flicking of his pen. At an event at an Atlanta children’s hospital, he sketched portraits of 700 children in six hours. When Charles draws, his arm takes over and runs on autopilot; he can even look away while drawing and maintain a sharp image and a true likeness.
His skills have even attracted the attention and business of famous fans including President Ronald Reagan and Colonel Sanders. Charles says that he draws because he enjoys getting a reaction from people and “loves to hear his customers, especially the kids, laugh.”