The Carracci drew constantly. When Agostino, his brother Annibale, and their cousin Ludovico sat down to meals, they held bread in one hand and charcoal in the other. As often as not, they poked fun at each other and people on the street. Thus, true caricature developed; an early example can be traced directly to Agostino.
In 1582, the Carracci founded the Accademia degli Incamminati (Academy of the Initiated), which began as an informal gathering of artists. By 1585, it was the most popular teaching academy in Bologna and a rallying point for progressive artistic tendencies. In reaction to the Mannerist distortion of anatomy and space, the Carracci emphasized drawing from life.
Agostino was principally an engraver as well as a gifted teacher. His systematic drawings studying the parts of the human body were engraved after his death and became important teaching tools for the next two hundred years.
In 1597, Agostino joined Annibale in Rome to work on the monumental Farnese Gallery frescoes. Three years later, after a falling out, Agostino left for another Farnese family project in Parma, where he died prematurely in 1602.