Carix’s Diary ’13 – 15

BANE

01/01/13 – Happy New Year!!

Had a fondue and screening of Batman – Dark Knight Rises, in full costume, to celebrate the new year, with Lucy. Happy New Year from Bane and Cat Woman!

02/01/13 – BROKE!!

It was a very quiet December and so I was expecting the text from my bank this morning, which woke me, telling me I’m officially BROKE… I have 5 hours to find funds to pay my Mortgage. What a way to start January!  What happened to the December feast, which harvested thousands of pounds and tided me over until March?? Ugghhhh….

Next year I’m donating £20 per friend and family to a charity, to save hassle and funds!

Had just two enquiries for January so far, both of which presumably went with a cheaper artist. As always, my fingers are crossed for the future and who said I’m not an optimist?!?!

05/01/13 – Indian Wake

Had a last minute call from a young lady wanting my services to celebrate the passing of her Grandmother. The event was being held on a family farm and consisted mainly of grandchildren and cousins, 25 in all. Was an unusual request and as I sat in a pub car park, awaiting my escort to the address, I was rather nervous! On arrival I found a farm, with a brick barn and a host of youngsters within… If I was ever to be executed by a gun to the back of my head, this was gonna be it (I thought)!!

As it turned out, they were a nice bunch and I ripped through them in just 90 minutes, with each drawing being inserted into a commemorative folder/book.

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07/01/13 – BULLITT

Just finished my latest doodle; Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. January allows me more time to produce my own artwork and to folly!

Bullitt caricature

08/01/13 – Time Management

Yesterday I set a day aside to design a Art Deco style invitation for a client and it took 8 hours for me to doodle a terrible child-like drawing, while waiting for the client to get back to me with a full brief. A wasted day, may as well have stayed in bed.
This morning, I intended to clean the house while waiting for 2 clients to respond to emails (gggrrrr), when suddenly inspiration hit and I effortlessly rendered an ace Art Deco family pose, while in my PJs…. SUCCESS!!
This illustrates that my creativity (and domestic clients) cannot be time managed and sometimes if you get up and can’t be arsed to get outa your PJs… just roll with it cos tomorrow is another day. LOL

art deco design

Art Deco illustration

The client absolutely loved the design, went on to finish the artwork in a day and loved every minute of it!

12/01/13 – Wedding, Somerset

Was up at sparrow’s fart to drive down to Burnham-on-Sea today, after a 3 hour drive I arrived at 1pm to be told the ceremony was delayed until 1.30pm, so an hour to kill…  Lovely couple, with some characters attending, so the day went well.

wedding caricature wedding caricature wedding caricature

Had a nice chat with the attending photographer, who discussed the local competition around the Bristol/Weston area. He said he attended a wedding with a caricaturist recently, who was not as good as me and who was receiving polite praise for his drawing, more from pity than appreciation LOL.  Glad to hear I was a hit 🙂

18/01/13 – SNOW!!!!

I had a corporate booking (Tesco) in Potters Bar during the day, then a drive back to Leicester, a pick-up of girlfriend and a drive back down to Hungerford for a last minute pub gig. Haven’t had a decent wage in weeks, so was glad of the work, but the drive was not gonna be good!

My day started with snow-fall and a call from Tesco, cancelling the day booking, with full pay. That cut my driving down a great deal, so I readied my car for the drive south later, after having picked up Lucy’s youngest from school. The day wore on and the snow came down hard… by 3pm it was a blizzard and my ‘school-run’ of 4 miles took me 4 HOURS!!!  Needless to say, I returned home and cancelled my pub booking later that evening. Unfortunately I had booked a hotel for the weekend too and lost my deposit on the room.  Not a great start to a snowy weekend, without cash and being home-bound due to heavy snow. 😦

Lucy and I enjoyed the weekend together and took many snowy walks…

George & Lucy

Monday came and the drive across town beckoned again, followed by cancelling my new windscreen fitting and also my tattoo session in Brighton on tuesday, due to lack of funds and icy roads!

21-24/01/13 – Snow=SEO

Due to the heavy snow, I was home-bound and so dedicated my time to optimizing my main website, adding 15 pages and creating a new sitemap. My efforts appear to be paying off, as I find my website is on page 1 of Google for many of my main search terms… Happy Georgie!  It still isn’t translating into bookings or cash, but at least it isn’t costing me a penny to do. Hermit time…

24-31/01/13 – Trum trum trum…

How long can one man spend looking at a PC monitor, tweaking his websites and playing Angry Birds??!!  Can’t wait for February to get under way and the phone can start ringing again. Plus I have a wedding fayre and Tattoo Convention to look forward to 🙂

02/02/13 – Wedding

Drove upto Preston to attend a wedding tonight. I arrived to see a gaggle of Bride & entourage outside, bare shouldered in the freezing night air, smoking and cackling about ‘downing Jaeger-bombs’!  This could be raucous I thought on my way in. I made my way to the back of the room as the speeches finished and guests approached me. One young lady was particularly taken and asked if I was security or a Stripper!! She then when went on to introduce herself and friend, flirtatiously; “This is Andrea – ‘Drea’ and I’m Lana, which spells ‘Anal’ backwards!” Not often I blush, but this was one such occasion.

wedding caricatures

I looked past the lady’s shoulder to see the Bride roll onto her back in a drunken stumble!! Tonight was gonna be fun I thought.  The evening flew by, with a queue of around ten toddlers, followed by increasingly tipsy guests and the Bride took a second tumble. I was wondering if she’d make it to her caricature sitting later, LOL.

15/02/13 – Brighton Tattoo Con

I packed my car with boxes, posters and an A-frame, then headed south to Brighton for the weekend. I had invested £250 in new display goodies and booked an expensive hotel for a few days. so hoped to make a small killing at the Tattoo Convention, if only to re-coup my expenses!

The hotel had a fab view of the sea and once I had paid an extra £45 for parking, I headed straight to the Convention, to set up my stand. I had been given a free stand near the Gallery section, but had to share it with another trader, which wasn’t ideal. He turned out to be an easy going guy, who specialized in custom pin-striping. I let him unpack all his boxes and tables and watched as his stall expanded and expanded, until I found myself pushed outside of the shell unit altogether! I had very little to erect and so decided to call it a day and hang my posters the following morning.

pin striper

Following a delicious seafood dinner, I headed to bed with my partner Lucy, only to be kept awake by noisy hoards on the street below and noisy neighbors in the rooms above and surrounding us. We had found THE noisiest hotel in Brighton it seemed! A sleepless night was had by all…
Next morning, bright and early, I headed to the exhibition, with my posters and A-frame under arm, to set up my stall. I arrived to find a greasy looking weazle of a man, taking up my stall space. It seems the little interloper had blagged a space from my co-exhibitor, at the front of our stand! As their stand expanded once again, I found myself with little exhibition space, no walk-through space and even my seats were occupied!! I bit my lip and got on with my day, waiting for customers to flood in. Unfortunately, as I had 3 tables in front of my display and nothing to distinguish my stand from theirs, I struggled to gain any attention! I stayed until the bitter end, but at 9pm I had to throw in the towel and went home with a few pennies in my pocket.

IMG_1783

exhibition stand

The next day I was taking no prisoners and decided to make a stand; I moved the guy next door out of my stand and explained my need for space, then I walked about, drumming up custom. This all seemed to work and I had a much busier day, which was looking promising. I met up with my old pal, tattoo legend Lal Hardy and handed him a framed caricature I had prepared.

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tattoo caricatures

tattoo caricatures

The crowds were gathering and money was flowing, I even managed to sell a few posters; Taxi Driver, Blade Runner and Quadrophenia. I had mounting interest from other tattoo artists, one studio in particular decided to run a Caricature Challenge; each one had to be drawn and then pick a random name from a hat, then have that face tattooed on themselves! I so look forward to the results of that one!!

tattoo artists IMG_1806

The last day abruptly halted however by a Fire Alarm going off!! The hotel/complex was evacuated with just two hours left of the day and we all convened in a nearby bar for a break. When we returned to the building, the flow of custom had been stemmed and so had my cash-flow. The last twenty minutes saw a last minute rush of drawings though and I went home with a nice pocket full of cash. Was an expensive weekend all-in-all, but I broke even and had a jolly nice time to boot.

26/02/13 – Tattoo Brighton

I made the long drive south this morning to my chosen Tattoo studio in Brighton, for a few more hours of pain! The lovely Saskia greeted me and sat me back for 6 hours of serious discomfort. It was all worth it though, when she finally got round to filling in the shading/dot-work;

George's tattoos

After a long day I had arranged to meet up with some local artists at a pub, together with the Cassinis, who had popped down on the train for a drink. Jon-Paul Mcarthy and Tony Parsons are both native to Brighton and very fine artists both, it was pleasure meeting them and we enjoyed several pints together before Tony sloped off to save lives on a Life-Boat and Simon and Sheba went in search of a dog-friendly hotel for the night. JP and I chatted on til the wee-small hours about life, artists and everything. Its always nice meeting like-minded people and much fun was had before I collapsed  for the night, dosed up on pain-killers, due to a loose filling and chronic toothache. Boy did I have a sore head the next morning!!

01/03/13 – Wales

Thank God that February is finally over, onto March and my first wedding in a while. I drove the long journey to South Wales; Bridgend, to a very old pub, in the middle of nowhere. I was beginning to wonder what I had let myself in for…

Portrush Welsh pub IMG_1815

It was a 3.5 hour drive, with a toothache and raw tattooed arm (popping pain-killers) and I was exhausted already, so when the wedding guests started cramming into the tiny pub, I wasn’t feeling the love. I diligently worked my way through the smiley faces for the first hour, until Dinner was called. I took a well earned break and enjoyed a pork dinner with the photographer in the bar. The food did the trick and I was re-fueled and ready to entertain again after 90 minutes or so had passed. I filed up[stairs and made my way round the tables, to much merriment. I had found my form and felt much more cheerful, which showed in my work.

wedding caricature wedding caricature

happy guest

There were some real characters and I enjoyed it very much… Then to the 3 hour drive home! Luckily I had to stop on the way at an Espresso machine mechanic to drop off my Elektra Nivola for repair, so had a few free espressos to help me on my way!

04/03/13 – Bizarre week…

Started my week sitting in a Court room with my girlfriend, across from her husband, Divorce proceedings! That was an experience, but the Judge found in her favor, so a successful day.
Next day I was booked in for a triple root canal at my dentist (to finally fix my toothache), but after 2 hours he could not find two of the roots, so re-filled it and gave up… to the cost of £175. My head was truly spinning now!
The next three days saw me locked in my studio, working on a magazine cover, for a trade mag. I had to draw the 6 leading Energy Supplier CEOs as Goodfellas style gangsters…

Goodfellas_utility

It was a labor intensive piece, with many layers and lighting effects. I was pleased with the end result, though some likenesses weren’t that great. It happens when I receive 3 photos of each person, with 8-10 years between photos, then am asked to make them frown instead of smile… had to guess their expressions and eyes.  Hoping the client likes it, as it could be a regular magazine piece for me. Fingers crossed.

20/03/13 – Corporate day

Day started with a 2 hour drive south to a Tesco Leadership Course, my monthly corporate gig, where I capture feedback for one of two small groups, with my colleague Jed Pascoe. However I found on arrival that the two groups had whittled down to one group of 9 delegates and I was on my own. To top my day, I had the makings of a heavy cold coming on, with giddy head and sore throat, but I worked my way through it and we finished in good time; 1h 40m to capture all 9 feedback sessions!
I hopped in my car and headed home before another corporate gig in Coventry for Virgin Media. It was my first agency booking in a while and I was pensive to say the least. I arrived, suited and booted to an empty dining room and bar, with the instructions to await guests in half an hour or so. I sat and waited…
The agent had booked me in for 3 x 45 minute slots, during a 4 hour time slot, which meant breaks of around 1 hour between slots!  This did not compute and after talking to the organiser, I soon realised I would be better working ‘as and when’ I could, between dining courses, speeches, raffles etc.  I started in the main bar and worked constantly through until the awards kicked in after dinner. I had already drawn for 3 solid hours, but was contracted to stay for another hour… so I sat through the speeches and photos and then suggested I withdraw for the night to the organiser. She was more than happy to let me go home and was thoroughly thrilled with my performance.

200313a corporate caricatures

23/03/13 – Wedding Ipswich

I was in the grips of a heavy cold and the country was in the grips of freezing snow, when I packed my car and headed towards Ipswich for a wedding. The A14 was fairly clear and the drive was easy, until Stowmarket when a blizzard hit and I was forced to shelter at a services, before braving the icy road for the last 15 miles.  I arrived early and waited for the speeches to end. The snow was now teeming down outside on the golf course!

wedding venue wedding venue

The couple were lovely and he was a petrol-head like me, so we chatted about projects, then he pointed out his ‘cake-stand’ which he had made himself…

mini cake stand

The evening flew by as it grew darker outside and whiter on the ground. I was beginning to worry if I would make it home tonight. The crowd were nice and I was on good form, thanks to my Flu medication! LOL

wedding caricature

The car park was surprisingly easy to negotiate, considering the 6″ of snow on the ground, but the A14 was spookily empty and snow-bound!!  It was a scary drive home alright, but I made the 140 miles eventually.

snowy roads

25/03/13 – Microsoft London

I had been booked for a string of corporate gigs this week, to entertain a call centre for Microsoft clients. The first was in London, which (due to the extortionate train fare of £77) I chose to drive to. The office was less than inspiring to me, but it was a nice warm up for the week. After a 3 hour stint, I made it home around 8pm, a full day, my first full day in many months!

corporate caricatures corporate caricature corporate caricature

26/03/13 – Microsoft Marlow

Next day I drove down to Marlow near Reading for my next stint. A much nicer office, full of lovely young ladies and stubbly guys.

corporate caricatures corporate caricatures

28/03/13 – Microsoft Manchester

I hopped a cheap train today to my next office stint, which wound through the Penines, providing breath-taking scenery.

Manchester caricatures Morpheus caricature

I drew a cracking lookalike of Morpheus (Matrix) which brought much hilarity to the office! I had arrived early and so was glad when the office wound things up just after 4.30pm and I was able to catch an early train home, although it meant standing the whole way! I was exhausted (after squeezing in a drive to Cardiff the day before) and glad to have just one more gig this week.

29/03/13 – Belper

Wedding in Derbyshire Dales tonight, luckily the snow had disappeared, so no fear of being snowed in! I began with the head table in the dining room, then moved to the sitting room, where I was festooned with small children, coughing and sneezing over me! It took some evasive maneuvering around the venue to avoid being cornered in germ hell!

bride & groom caricature caricature

At the end of the evening I spotted an usher who had been avoiding my attention and so pounced on him! A nice way to end the performance. Don’t all rush though girls, he’s married!!

06/04/13 – Stratford

Spent friday in London and had to drive to Stratford for a wedding on saturday morning. The venue was a Memorial Hall in a nearby village, which was hidden away round dome country lanes. On arrival there was no sign of life, so I gained entry through a side door and entered the dining area, fully decorated and ready to receive guests. The MC greeted me, in chef’s costume and explained that the venue was to remain closed until mealtime, which I thought slightly odd, but realised they had no Reception area and as it was sunny, the car park seemed to be the obvious place for drinks reception…. OBVIOUSLY!

I waited outside (in the car park) with the elderly guests who had skipped church photos and I started drawing them. I drew all three elderly brothers, unfortunately one had lost his sense of humor and seemed mortified at his likeness, insisting on giving it back to me. This put a damper on my day!

The other guests began to arrive and things picked up, with several interesting faces to pick on, to much laughter. The guests were begining to sneak inside, so I followed, only to find all the curtains were drawn and I was met with darkness, which wasn’t helped by my sun-blindness (after staring at a white page in the sun), leaving me unable to see/draw anything for several minutes!

wedding caricatures

13/04/13 – NEC digital

Had a two day digital gig at the NEC for an Optician’s exhibition, which would hopefully blow my digital cobwebs away! Though I’ve had drawing tablets since before 2008, I still cannot seem to get impressive results on the tiny screens and so I was feeling trepidation about the next two days! Never the less, I packed my bags and headed to the NEC, with my letterheaded JPG already loaded. I arrived to find the tiniest of tables for me to work on…

small table

I could tell I was going to have a backache as well as a headache after this.  I soldiered on however and managed to produce a few acceptable likenesses, mainly of staff. As the weekend continued, this was to be the main trend, with staff sitting for drawings but failing to offer me any customers to draw.

digital caricatures

digital caricatures

After two days I had drawn around 18 staff and a handful of customers, which made me feel guilty, but frankly when stationed at a digital screen, I cannot physically encourage any punters myself and so my success was at the mercy of the FOH staff. I struggled with my back by the end of the exhibition and made a note to request a high table at my next digital gig!

13/04/13 – Gay wedding

After a hard day at the NEC I had to get suited and booted to entertain at a Civil Partnership in Lichfield. I was looking forward to drawing freehand on A3 paper again and the evening was a great deal of fun, with some larger than life characters.

gay wedding

17/04/13 – London digital

As luck would have it, I secured a second digital booking this week, this time in London at the swanky Westminster Park Plaza. I had negotiated a hotel stay and in return the client had requested that I stagger my performance over the entire day, to maximise my impact. I agreed to this, along with an extra evening stint, meaning a 9 hour day on friday!! This was gonna be a marathon.

George tourist

The event organiser was lovely and she welcomed me to my hotel with smiles and money, then she left me with the clients, who were a very cosmopolitan, European bunch. I found myself with a high table (thankfully) on a very impressive bar/stand, which was unfortunately dimly lit for the first evening.

digital caricaturist

I began by drawing the company executives, who were mostly willing, apart from one guy who insisted he’d already been drawn “in Vegas and its really good”! He then displayed the caricature to all on the stand, making me feel about as welcome as a fart in a space-suit and half as talented. How would he like it if I whipped out a photo of his predecessor and extolled his virtues over him, whilst refusing to deal with him?! I was not feeling inflated by this, but the event continued.

digital caricatures

digital caricatures

IMG_1921

My drawings were receiving mixed receptions, with vain guys turning their noses up and pretty girls refusing to take a printout, one Indian looking gent actually screwed the drawing up in disgust!!  On the whole though, the business community loved my drawings and I gave out many business cards to interested punters for future bookings. Fingers crossed!

That night I went out on the South Bank alone for dinner and a few drinks, I managed to find a funky little Mexican Diner “Wahaca” which served the best Mexican street cuisine I’ve tasted. I started with  Mojito and a Grasshopper starter – not the cocktail, but fried grasshoppers, with onions and cheese…

grasshopper starter

It was an acquired taste, but I washed it down with another Mojito and tucked into a Burrito, followed by a beer by the Thames, as the sun went down. A very pleasant evening indeed.

The final day saw me drawing from 10am until 7pm, when the lights were dimmed again and Champagne flowed. By this time my patience was running low and after one particularly pretty Russian lady was assured by her companion “Your nose is never that big, you’re lovely, he’s made you look like a Witch!” I could not resist putting them both straight and telling them to develop both a sense of humor and self awareness. My favorite phrase was used once again: ‘Prosopagnosia’ – the inability to recognise your own likeness.

I soldiered on and another gent was unimpressed by his drawing, at which point I took a photo to explain what I saw in such poor lighting, compared to what he thought he looked like…

digital caricatures

It was time to go at last and with 3 minutes to go before I packed away and ran for my train, I took a shot at the man who had avoided me in favor of his iPhone caricature from Vegas…

rude asshole

Not too bad for 3 minutes digital! I said my goodbyes and reached to shake hands with my exhibiting clients, to be greeted by a finger from the offended subject. This guy was simply rude, but I didn’t let his behaviour spoil my event and I remained professional throughout.

24/04/13 – Wigan Athletic FC

The call came from ESPN, wanting to hire me for a promotional video, in the run up to the FA Cup Final, with Wigan and Man City FC. They wanted me to make the players more human by drawing them live on camera for all to see. This sounded great and so with one day’s notice I was up at 5.30am and on  the road for Wigan with my pens and my best shirt on!  I arrived at 9.30am and was shown into the changing hut, which was already packed with cameras of all kinds and a jolly film crew, all ready to roll.

The format was kinda fluid; we expected players to drift in before their training session and say a few lines to camera, get a couple of snap shots, then be presented with their caricature.  The players arrived and the flood-gates opened!! The room was crammed with photographers, managers, players and me… all struggling with the flow of traffic. I managed to grab approximately 2 minutes with each player as they were ushered around the room, in front of 3 different back-drops and cameras. I managed to stick with it and we ploughed through the whole team in just 80 minutes!!

Roberto Martinez Wigan Athletic caricatures Wigan athletic caricatures Wigan athletic caricatures

I managed to grab ten minutes with Emerson Boyce and so am most proud of his drawing. Final video should be aired on or around 11 May on ESPN. Fingers crossed I may even get a seat at the FA Cup Final, drawing the likes of Kevin Keegan!!

PS: I didn’t get the gig for FA Cup Final day, but Wigan won the cup, thanks to my lucky caricatures 😉

05/05/13 – Birthday/HOLIDAY!!

My partner Lucy had arranged for a week away in a secluded area of Wales, on the far west coast, St Brides Bay, as a birthday treat. I had treated myself to a lowering kit for my car and so had polished it before packing for our marathon journey. ‘Phil’ (PT Cruiser) was looking fine!

PT Cruiser

The beach we were heading to was renowned for its kite-surfing and general unspoiled expanse, so I packed my kite buggy and all three kites, to have some fun on the sand! The journey was a 4 hour marathon and after some of the narrowest single-track roads, we arrived at the chalet, which was pure 70’s stylee! We headed to the nearest bay at the foot of our valley to sample the sea and local pub cuisine.

The bay was deserted and stunning, with a pub nestling in the creek, which we visited for food. This was our first mistake; we had been warned that the pub was ‘quirky’ and that it was a miracle to be in business with it’s current Landlord. Quirky it was, with an air of Fawlty Towers and a lack of electric lighting, we sat for our meal of charcoaled scampi and a jacket potato. How hard could that be? The waiter apologised for the delay due the rush… There was one other table of two! We heard Manuel comment at the bar “I’m not going in there, he’s got 4 meals on, you know how he gets!” When food came to the next table they complained about the condiments being out of date… These were whisked from all tables and we were left without. When my charcoal end scampi arrived, I asked for salt and vinegar. Manuel headed for the kitchen and we heard “GOT ANY VINEGAR WITHOUT FLOATERS?!” He returned and apologised “I’m embarrassed to say we have no vinegar!”!!!!!!’

We did not eat at this pub again, but retired to the shore to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Nolton Haven

The next day we took a ‘short walk’ to the next bay, with its long beach and unspoiled beauty. We headed across the cliffs on the coastal path, which turned out to be 4 miles each way!

coastal path

Newgale Beach

The beach was stunning and the weather was kind to us, as my head grew redder and we soaked up the warm sun. The next day we returned to the beach, car full of toys and with great excitement for the day of fun to come!

kite buggy

I spent a good few hours being hauled at speed up and down the beach, with just one other sailor to keep me company. Unfortunately Lucy fell asleep and neglected to take any more photos of my exploits with my kites, but I did get some video footage.

The week slowly plodded by, without internet, telephones, television or Facebook…. which was hard to cope with, as I’m not known for being able to switch ‘OFF’ easily and I struggled to relax for the first few days. But the solitude and lack of visual stimulous helped and by the end of the week I was totally chilled. I did however take a backup laptop with me, for the purpose of enjoying all 5 seasons of BIG BANG THEORY on DVD!!  Lucy and I enjoyed our evening, huddled round a 12″ screen with BBT.

16/05/13 – Home to work!

I returned home on sunday to find two enquires had come to fruition. One had emailed me with a contract for 16th and wished me ‘a good holiday’. The second had called several times, frustrated at my absence they had then emailed me, requesting an urgent call, then finally cancelling the booking for 15th, out of frustration! No loss to me, I know which client I’d rather work for of the two.

The booking was at Twickenham Rugby stadium and I drove into London, expecting a Hospitality Box, full of dignitaries. I arrived to find I was working next to the pitch, at a ‘touch rugby’ tournament, followed by a Bar-B-Q. Luckily the weather was good and it was a pleasant evening. I even got the chance to draw Rugby legend Phil Vickery.

Phil Vickery caricature

The following few days saw me on the road to another two bookings and a wedding in Lincoln’s Square Hall, London. I took a train this time and enjoyed my 1st Class seats each way for just £10 extra. Some great characters at the wedding, especially one moustachio’d gentleman who inspired me…

wedding moustache

I had not shaved since early May, due to my relaxed holiday demena and was undecided on how best to quoiff my now abundant facial hair. I decided on the Dapper Gent look, crossed with Lemmy!!

George's beard

19/05/13 – SPECIALS

Lucy had bought me tickets to see my fave band, The Specials at a local venue and I was soooo excited! We were taking her 17 year old daughter along too, for some proper family skanking! They didn’t disappoint, other than starting 2 hours after doors opened, without any support band, also they were missing half the brass section and the most essential element – Neville Staples! He was the band front man and his constant dancing keeps the audience energised, but he was notably absent. All we had to focus on was Terry Hall’s long, miserable face and occasionally his back!  I enjoyed the gig, but left wanting to slap Terry for all his mardy jibes (usually counter-acted by Neville’s upbeat energy).

Specials

20/05/13 – New Website launch!

After 3 months of tinkering on WordPress, I am proud to announce the launch of my new wedding specific website – The Wedding Artist.  I decided that there are now too many other caricaturists selling their skills to Brides, with loud, gawdy, cheesy cartoon sites and so I went for the Gold Standard angle. I am after all the only UK caricaturist and entertainer who is regularly published in glossy magazines, which should mean something surely? I hope the Brides can see the quality from my website and make the right choice on their big day.

wedding artist

31/05/13 – GQ

I’ve been waiting for weeks to see my next published piece in GQ and this week I bought several copies, to see my ‘Daft Punk’ illo on page 134;

Daft Punk

I’m proud as punch and it looks great on glossy paper.  I have worked towards regularly published work, all my life and I must say that GQ is the pinnacle of my hopes.  To top an already fantastic month, I have just received another commission from GQ, but Mum’s the word until the piece is published and on the shelves 😉

08/06/13 – Batmitzvah

I had been hired by a repeat client to entertain at a Batmitzvah, which until now I had never done. It would involve entertaining 50 or so 12 year old girls in a dark marquee, while dining and dancing. This alone set off alarm bells, as I was aware how impossible these scenarios would be for me to work in. However I raised my concerns with the mother and I agreed to make special preparations fop the event. These preparations included working on headed paper (on a clip-board) and purchasing a head-torch and light for my board.  I must confess I was more than a little nervous about the success of my performance as the date approached and when I arrived at the venue, my fears were confirmed…

dark Batmitzvah

I donned my new head-torch and flicked the switch, which seemed to light the faces of my subjects just perfectly, without dazzling my eyes from paper glare. I was rather happy with the new lighting set-up and enjoyed using the new torch. There was certainly no shortage of willing punters, but if I required a break (during meal or dancing) I simply switched my torch off and I disappeared! LOL.   I had a short break while the professional dancers came on, which was followed by a last minute rush for the final 20 minutes… It went down really well and I escaped with my life. Not so bad after all LOL.

11/06/13 – Tattoo, Brighton

I had booked several appointments for this summer, to finish my left sleeve and this was the first since January. I was hoping to ride down on my Harley, as I had another long drive south on friday and wanted to break the monotony, but the British summer had other ideas, so I drove the Cruiser down for a couple of days in the rain. I stayed at the very tidy Hamptons, which is a small budget hotel, just opposite my tattooist. My budget was tight, so no seafood treats or Prosecco for me, just fish & chips, washed down with a beer, then bed!

I rocked up for my appointment to find the studio in turmoil; it seems a member of staff had been pilfering, swindling and defrauding them all out of money, to the sum of many thousands! This had left everyone in a stunned state of betrayal and  dis-belief… which I can relate to after suffering at the hands of my ex-wife! LOL  I was also amused at the new addition of two adorable chihuahuas to the studio;

chihuahua

Never the less, we got under way with some ‘space-filling’ under my arm, though I was unaware that I had any space left to fill! Boy it was a doozy though and now my arm looks properly filled!!

tattooed George

tattooed George

tattooed George

After 5-6 hours on the table, I was ready for a rum and a sit down! I made my way to the St James to meet my good friend and colleague Jon-Paul McCarthy for a few sherberts and a chew of the fat. As a tattooed man himself, I knew JP would appreciate the pain I’d been through and we had much to discuss. The next day I checked out and walked along the beach to clear my head, then treated myself to a slap-up breakfast at the local American Diner, which was much more impressive inside than from the outside!

US Diner Brighton

It was a whistle-stop tour and I was soon on my way back to Leicester, with a sore arm. Ironically I am due to return to West Sussex on friday…. another long drive ahead! :-/

26/06/13 – Doctors…

After several months of watching a lump on my neck swell, I finally gave up waiting for it to cure itself and found the courage to visit my Doctors’ surgery for a check-up. The result being that I was whisked away for blood tests and booked into the local Hospital for a Cat-scan on my throat. Was rather an epic visit, which turned from a 10 minute chat to a 45 minute de-briefing. To say I’m rather shaken and anxious to see my results is an understatement. These things are sent to test us, I know!

To top it all, I have a Hospital Dental appointment tomorrow, for a root canal. It seems I have a difficult mouth as this is the second time my gob has had me in hospital! Looking forward to that visit…

02/07/13 – To top it all…

Root canal was successful and so I headed down to Brighton towards my next tattoo installment, with my partner Lucy for a few days of light relief. Following a nice meal, Lucy and I had ‘THE conversation’ which usually ends with us deciding to continue as we are, having fun. This time however it ended with us deciding to go separate ways, after nearly 3 years together. This was a blow and that last night in the hotel together was unbearable. The next day Lucy was gone from my life!

Next day was spent in the Tattooist’s chair, bleeding profusely and sobbing a little…

tattoo sleeve

08/07/13 – Hindu wedding

Picked up a last minute wedding booking for a Hindu ceremony in Potters Bar. I mean last minute; I received an email on sunday 7th, booking me for the following day, but giving no address or times required, they had however paid a deposit and so I was bound to accept the booking. Many emails were hastily sent, though the Bride was clearly too busy with preparations to respond on sunday. I had a slightly sleepless night, awaiting instructions for the following day, which I received at 9am on monday. I was needed at the venue, some 2 hours away, by 12.30pm.

The morning was a blur of preparation for me and in no time I was in my car, heading south on the M1. I arrived at the beautiful Oshwal Center in Potters Bar, where the sun was shining and the scene was set for a colourful Indian wedding.

Oshwal Centre

indian wedding

The scene was chaotic to say the least and I sat through the main part of the ceremony as an observer, which was very noisy and impressive. After an hour I was told that the ceremony would last all day and that I should draw the diners down-stairs, which I did. Two hours later and I took a break – I had been booked for two x two hour slots, so I settled down for a tasty Indian meal and awaited my next slot.

Indian wedding caricatures

I made my way upstairs where the happy couple were still on stage, being photographed and receiving gifts, which seemed to take forever, with 600 guests in a queue! I eventually got the chance to draw them together and they looked fine in their costume.

Hindu bride & groom

I steadily worked my way through a queue of eager faces and after nearly 6 hours there I drew to a close. I was feeling exhausted, but had a great deal of sympathy for the happy couple, who had been on stage under the lights for around 6 hours also!  It truly was a spectacle and a very pleasant way to spend my monday afternoon.

16/07/13 – Chisel Tips & Alistair’s Party

There was an itching amongst the Caricaturing fraternity to meet up for our annual Carix piss-up… So down to London we all headed, towards Udder Belly on the Southbank for a get together. Some arrived at 5pm and set the table for the later arrivals, I managed to get there for around 8pm and was greeted by a happy throng of caricaturists…

giggle of Carix

giggle of Carix

The summer’s evening wore on and much business was discussed over many cold beers! Some were embarrassed to find they had worn the same outfits, while others discussed business strategies…

Matt & Picasso

carix

spot on george

It was an impressive turn out and we enjoyed the merry banter. Its not often such professional rivals become colleagues and friends, with such good spirits. We hoped for many more get togethers in the years to come.

24/07/13 – GOOD NEWS!!

I went to the Hospital for my Ultrasound scan (of the lump on my neck) and it turns out not to be anything serious, probably just fatty tissue, so I’m very relieved and a much happier bunny!  My trip to the Dr’s was a good kick up my arse and for the last few weeks I’ve been mountain biking twice weekly, I even visited the Gym for the first time and am happy to say that I feel 100% better. I’ve even lost some weight and can now fit in my skinny jeans again 😉

26/07/13 – Wales

Took a booking for a corporate day near Cardiff, intending on spending a few days in Wales with my kites and nike, but as luck would have it (following my break-up) I took another weekend job, which means I get to drive to Wales and back in one day! Luckily I checked and it was ‘Casual Friday’ at the Pharmaceutical plant I was visiting, so I donned my Hawaiian shirt and shorts for a change.

corporate caricatures

The day was hot and the staff kept coming, but I was fed free pizza and ice cream (so much for the diet!) so I was a happy bunny.

corporate caricatures

07/09/13 – Wedding Liverpool

Today marked the start of a workathon, incorporating Liverpool, Brighton, Manchester and Leicester in between. First stop Liverpool Cathedral, which was stunning to say the least!!

Liverpool Cathedral Liverpool Cathedral Liverpool Cathedral caricatures

The architecture was stunning and my jaw was on the floor for most of the day. I was due to work an hour before the meal, then two hours after, for which I had negotiated a free meal in return for £100 worth of signing board (framed). I arrived early with my A2 signing board, to be met by a rather flustered young lady, who insisted that I had to unframe the artwork and somehow wall mount it for all to sign. It clearly was not my job to do this, but in the spirit of co-operation I agreed and began un-framing, sticking and pinning the carefully prepared caricature, which ended up pinned to a notice board. I was totally unimpressed but as the guests had begun arriving, I had to make the best of a shoddy job.

The first hour went with a woosh and I was on top form. The proceedings were running half an hour late and due to the board fiasco, I had already been working for 2.5 hours when they sat to eat.  They had kindly provided me with a small bowl of Scouse, which went down well. Soon enough it was time for me to return to duty, by which time the huge building was in darkness and so finding an appropriate spot became difficult.  The band had kicked off and so the center auditorium was out of bounds and the noise was filling the rest of the building too. I stationed myself on the steps and began the second set, which (after a 3 hour drive and 3.5 hour 1st set) was rather tiring. However I turned out some great pics and the guests seemed happy, until the usual time to wind up. I cut the queue down to the last 7 faces and smiled apologetically. I was down to the last person, with just 4 minutes until home time, when a group of young girls approached me, with the promise of two possible weddings next year, they wanted to see ‘how good I was’ and asked for a group caricature… with just a few minutes remaining I politely refused and handed her my card instead with a smile.  She tossed the card away and said “Forget it, we’ll find another artist!”

This knocked me for six and I packed my pad away in slight shock, only to be greeted by a large aggressive character, who had avoided me for the last 5 hours, but insisted I draw him; “Just ONE more, I been waiting all f**king night!”    I chose to ignore his abuse and made my way to my car for the 2-3 hour drive home, which I spent biting my lip and fuming at the last few punters!

I shouldn’t have been phased, this type of abuse is a regular occurrence, which some take as a compliment, but in my tired, weakened state I was unable to cope with it. At that moment I decided never to work a late evening gig again! I’m sure the amount of alcohol contributed, but drawing abusive customers in a noisy, dark venue just lost its appeal to me.

08/09/13 – Leicester…

The next evening I had another late night booking, 8 – 11pm, but at least it was local. John Lewis was a regular client and I knew the ladies involved, so was looking forward to it. Sure enough, shortly after my arrival, I was inundated with a queue of ladies, waiting for my services. I obliged and the evening went well, I even had applause, which cheered my soul up.

John Lewis caricatures

09/09/13 – Brighton, tattoo

I was up at 6am to drive to Brighton, it was tattoo time! Having shifted my appointment date twice already to accommodate last minute jobs, my only option was now to do the ‘red-eye’ on the morning of my ink, then drive home sore the next day!

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5 hours of pain later and I had an early night, ready for my drive the next morning, back home to Leicester, to pack for the impending exhibition.

11/09/13 – Manchester

Up at 5.45am to hop a train to Manchester for an all day exhibition gig. Several taxis and trains later, I was at the stand in Manchester Central, raring to go… The clients were nice enough, which made the day easier and a free lunch helped my energy levels too.  I worked my magic and had people queueing at their stand all day, with some great faces, such as ‘Bernard Breslaw’ here..

exhibition caricatures

08/10/13 – Olympia

My sponsors (Edding) had requested my presence on their stand at an Office Expo at Olympia and so I made my way to London for two days of free drawing. I was excited to find that I would be drawing on one of their patented ‘roller’ flip charts, which had an ergonomic curve and a constant roll of large scale paper to draw on.  This was a new experience for me, as it meant a larger scale of working, with larger pens, no pre-sketches and a larger spectacle for punters to see. This worked really well as an audience attraction and our stand was a constant crowd puller. My sponsors couldn’t have been happier and I was also chuffed with most of the results…

Edding caricatures

Edding caricatures

There were two exhibitions on at Olympia and I had trouble finding the right hall, probably because it wasn’t an ‘Office Expo’ at all, but a PA Seminar!  The hall was packed full of secretaries and Personal Assistants, all shopping for things to make their bosses happy… from Hareem Nights, to office fittings. It was fabulous female audience and I was apparently “popular with the ladies” as one PA pointed out, looking at the thronging queue at our stand! I was hunted down by one voluptuous lady, who introduced herself as “Pearl, black Pearl”!!

Edding caricatures

Edding caricatures

I had a ball over the two days and even hooked up with my colleague Luisa Calvo who was drawing tiny digital caricatures on a stand at the same seminar. We enjoyed lunch together and a catch up. I look forward to bumping into Luisa again and very much look forward to another Edding booking next January, in Germany!

16/10/13 – Earl’s Court

Had another two day exhibition, this time digital for HP, a good client. Being digital, HP wanted me to use one of their brand tablets and happy as I am to re-train on new hardware, I agreed and waited to take delivery of their tablet for training purposes.  The days passed and no new tablet, then finally it arrived on the morning I was due to take the train to London! I quickly uploaded my favourite (ArtRage) software onto it and gave it a try. All seemed god and I prepared my printer etc for the day ahead. Unfortunately none of my devices were coupling on Bluetooth and so the tablet could not pick up the client’s logo or output the drawings via printer. Joy – technical hitches with just 2 hours to go. After several hectic attempts to procure new dongles and connect to Wifi etc, I gave up and packed all my gear, together with a back-up tablet and head for the train. I hopped the train and crossed my fingers.

My hotel for the two days was fab and I was upgraded to a basement apartment, which resembled a James Bond lair! I was very comfortable and so went to dine at a local eatery, in anticipation of the coming days. The next day I scurried off to Earl’s Court to set up, nice and early, no problems with security and I was at the stand for 9am. The staff seemed unfamiliar with me and pretty much ignored my presence for the first hour or so. I waited for my contact to arrive and show me my spot, with plasma TV etc. I enjoyed a ‘Crusssh’ smoothy for breakfast and chilled.  We eventually got round to setting me up at a worktop, though the plasma  seemed unco-operative at first, so we worked on a small screen to begin.

digital drawing stand

The day seemed to drag as I sat at my station, practicing on my new tablet, with a few glitches and random blobs appearing, which I worked around. The staff seemed unaware that I was unable to attract punters without a plasma or their help and so I sat quietly, waiting for a non-staff customer.  I practiced on one or two HP staff to get accustomed to the new tablet, but I was not impressed with it’s performance, neither was my client!

digital HP caricatures

My printer was plugged in and working nicely, as was the plasma now, but the tablet was getting worse and worse, throwing errors with every second line drawn! My frustration became apparent and I asked if I could switch to my reserve Samsung tablet, which the client agreed to. I was relieved and quickly set up my new work station, but without plasma once more. By this time we had enough caricatures to make a slide show however and so this was shown on a loop via plasma, which seemed to attract a few more punters.  I had had enough and decided to take some time-out to enjoy the exhibition, before I blew a fuse!! LOL

aaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh

IMG_2641

The day ended and I met up with my Carix colleague Jon-Paul MaCarthy, who was working on a stand nearby and we popped out for a meal and some beers, to let off steam.

Carix

The next day we were both on good form and the drawings flowed. I was much happier with my own tablet and the client was too, as I drew a few more punters to the huge HP stand. I felt bad about the previous day’s performance and so instructed the staff to send me as many punters as possible!

Jon-Paul McCarthy digital caricatures digital caricatures

Until that point I had never really enjoyed working on my £1000 tablet and only used it grudgingly, but after the struggle with the previous tablet, I was more than happy to feel the speed and smoothness of my Slate. I’m rather looking forward to next using the little fella!   I packed away my digital gear and headed back to Leicester, with a week’s holiday in Wales on my mind!!

20/10/13 – Wales

Had a wedding in Wales, so took a few days to kick back and maybe fly a kite or two in beautiful Tenby and St Brides Bay…

tenby kiting tenby kiting

27/10/13 – New Board!!

I took delivery of my new flip-chart board today, the very same one I had been using at Olympia a few days before, which had been donated to me courtesy of my sponsors Edding (Legamaster). I’m looking forward to introducing the world to my large-scale caricatures at an exhibition very soon!!! 🙂

08/11/13 – Giles Brandreth

I had been tasked with drawing Giles Brandreth along with several fellow speakers for a presentation dinner in London and had to dust off the digital tablet once more. I’m not a huge fan of colour work by hand and find it time consuming, but the tablet offered a faster solution and so I rattled off a 20 minute caricature with reasonable results.

giles brandreth caricature

It would never get published, but the client liked it and so I ticked it off my list and moved on. I’m not proud of it, but we can’t always be proud of every piece of artwork, can we!

07/11/13 – Y Theatre

I managed to secure myself two exhibitions of my artwork during the Leicester Comedy Festival in February 2014 and promised to run a humorous workshop alongside. In preparation for my workshop I was asked to preview my show to an open audience at the local Y Theatre, at a local talent showcase. I agreed and hastily threw together a 20 minute show, with entertainment in mind.

I decided that for a theatre audience I would be better not relying on their participation by showing them how to DRAW, instead showing them how to SEE a caricature. To this end I compiled a series of slide examples, demonstrating our powers of recognition, even though we may only be looking at a series of shapes…

live caricatures

live caricatures

live caricatures

live caricatures

live caricatures

The show was a success, with laughter and applause and a willing volunteer for my evil pen to draw! The audience feedback which followed was all positive and it spurred me on to create a new act for my repertoire….. Watch this space!! 😉

Good news, my sponsors (Edding) ware flying me to Germany for a performance in January and I may be able to practice my act to an audience of 100 Germans! Tough crowd LOL

November – quiet month!

The phone has rung silent, my inbox is empty of emails and I’m staring in to the winter abyss that is December, with trepidation! Luckily I’ve had a few random commissions and dinner dates to tide me over this month, but no major bookings and no Christmas gigs for next month as yet. I’m sure once folks get their December budget and realise they have an Xmas party to arrange, then the phones will start ringing… all wanting the same dates; 6th, 13th, 14th December!!  Fingers crossed 😉

26/11/13 – TOP SECRET!

Had a very interesting commission from a client for an A-list Hollywood star and had to spend the afternoon on a movie set, taking snaps and drawing subjects for a Top Secret composition. Cannot say any more, but I am really stoked and can’t wait to finish the full colour vector piece!

06/12/13 – RAF Cranwell

I had been booked by an agent to entertain at the Officer’s Mess at RAF Cranwell, 8-11pm, which was to be a walkabout gig. Turned out I was stuck in a corridor, with a constant queue of punters, mostly couples, wanting double pictures.  Not a bad crowd, but for some reason they didn’t seem to get the joke and so I had to endure 3 hours of people looking with puzzled faces at my drawings and declaring it looked nothing like them! To be honest most were perfectly polite and some loved their drawings, but its always the dozen or so who make their negativity known who stick in my mind. At one point a man asked if I would draw 7 people on one sheet, which I politely refused and explained that I had a very long queue of impatient people, who would not appreciate the wait! He instantly relayed this to his party in less diplomatic terms, then demanded to see the Mess Sargent, as he was “Extremely unhappy with the caricaturist”! He continued his  rant for several minutes, while I politely smiled and worked my way through the dozens of waiting punters. Little did he realise the effect of his negativity on my performance, as I shrank and wished for a hole to swallow me up! All I could do was await the phone call from my agent on monday, relaying his complaint… Uggghhh.

The evening rolled on and my energy levels waned but I still managed several good drawings.

caricature caricature caricature

No matter how many happy faces I see though, its always the last one who thinks he’s being witty by complaining that sticks with me on the way home…

caricature

11/12/13 – Bah Humbug!

Still waiting for last minute Xmas bookings to come my way and save my Christmas, at the moment it looks like my November was busier than this month. I’m not working one single saturday in December! Not feeling so festive this year.

Had a tiny windfall from DACS (royalties repayment) and so decided to do all my Christmas shopping online, while I had the liquidity to do so. I also made preparations for January and February exhibitions etc, by ordering poster frames and hangers, together with a hotel for the Brighton Tattoo Convention, which is always great fun, if a little expensive to attend! Hopefully I won’t be struggling too much by the time the exhibitions come round. Indeed, February is corporate exhibition season too, so am hoping to pick up a few bigger gigs to tide me through. Fingers are crossed! 😉

12/12/13 – Museum of London

I picked up a nice gig from Luisa Calvo for tonight, staff party in London. I prepared myself all day, ate the right foods, topped up on caffeine and took the train to reduce the strain. I arrived to a dark bar, with around 50 people looking slightly bored, perfect, I thought. I began to mill around, but was largely ignored by the people and the client saw me struggling to find volunteers, which is always embarrassing, but not really my fault. I felt on top form though and bolstered by my confidence I perused the audience. Eventually custom picked up and it was a leisurely evening of drawings in the dark.

party caricatures party caricatures party caricatures

13/12/13 – Log Cabin

I had a local booking at The Staging Post, which is a log cabin connected to a local hotel. It was very cosy as I arrived at the front door…

Xmas caricatures

The punters were a small group of around 40 people, all happy and raring fro a drawing. I launched into them with gusto and turned out some nice pictures, despite the majority being ladies, who traditionally hate unflattering drawings. From the corner of my eye I saw a Magician warming up in the wings, so I made my way over and exchanged pleasantries. His face looked familiar and I knew I’d drawn him previously, but his name eluded me. As the evening drew on, he clearly knew me and made several enquiries into my business status and if I was working with many agents, while referring to his own business as ‘WE’ which was a little puzzling. I asked  where he was based and he seemed a little urqued… Later in the evening he began mentioning agency names like Warble and Magical Memories  and eluding to back handed business dealings. Just then it dawned on me that the Magician was in fact founder of Magical Memories, Nick, whom I had fallen out with some years previously!!  Despite this the evening was pleasant enough and no hard feelings were shown, though I felt bad for not having recognised him sooner. LOL  Frankly I cannot remember the reason for our parting of ways now, but sometimes an artist just outgrows an agent and moves on. My performance was unhindered and the clients seemed chuffed.

Xmas caricatures Xmas caricatures

14/12/13 – Specs!

Following the usual dark bars and venues this season, I felt the need to invest in some effective lighting gizmos to assist my dark plight and what better than a pair of Orbital style LED safety specs?! Ordered yesterday, arrived today and feeling chuffed 🙂

orbital specs

14/12/13 – Dentists

After being pissed about by some Leicester Estate Agents over a booking for tonight, they eventually let me down but it allowed me to take a booking in Kettering from some Dentists, at full fee! I was happy to be working at a civilised restaurant instead of a noisy West End Leicester bar and looked forward to my audience. At 7pm a gaggle of ladies arrived, all clad in black dressed and all donning blue/white teeth!  I began with a tall skinny lady with a pointy nose, who immediately took umbrage at her drawing and spent the rest of the evening haranguing me about my drawings and the nose sizes. This made the first hour or seem very difficult for me, as I realised that female dentists apparently have no sense of humor and even less self esteem!  The second hour picked up, with some new male arrivals and suddenly my drawings were all ‘SPOT ON!’ and I could do no wrong.

Xmas caricatures xmas caricatures

15/12/13 – Asian 1st Birthday lunch

I was working at Leicester King Power Football stadium today and I arrived to find a sea of baby buggies and pink balloons awaiting my entrance. I dreaded the onslaught of babies and proud Mums that lay ahead of me, as a children’s entertainer I am not!  However I was glad to find that the adults were all craving some fun and entertainment and were swamping me with requests for caricatures. I had a constant queue of smiling Indian faces and enthusiastic models, all loving their sketches and telling me how great I was!! Such a contrast to the previous evening’s audience!

Indian caricatures Indian caricatures

At the end of the day I had only drawn 2 babies and the rest were a coach party, down from Newcastle who were all up for some fun! I had a fab time and my ego was nicely massaged after the previous deflating evening. I was working alongside the famous ‘Magic Amit’ who is a local legend. We exchanged tales of local gigs and competitors and he was amazed to see a queue for my drawings at the end of the afternoon, which is always a good sign.  I was greatly amused when I heard a small child ask Amit “At what age did you become magic?” LOL

A nice afternoon 🙂

18/12/13 – Brad Pitt’s birthday

I had been working on a commission for Brad Pitt’s birthday gift, which involved a previous visit to his movie set back in November to sketch and gather imagery for a composition.  I had a fab day on set and watched filming for one shot, including Brad himself! Excited!! The composition included 5 of his close team and of course the most important factor – “FURY” the tank! The colour caricature took around a week to complete and a week to output as a poster, for presentation on his birthday, in person!  I drove to his movie set with great excitement and waited to present Brad with his gift. Unfortunately filming was running late and so he was unavailable to see me in person, so artwork was left with his PA and I can only wait to hear his reaction.

21/12/13 – Humbug!

My car’s central locking is broken, which will cost £400 to fix, it needs taxing too, but I’ve only worked 8 gigs this season and 2 of those have not paid yet, so I’m broke! This also means the car cannot travel anywhere for a while. To top it all, I have just split with my girlfriend of 3 years, perfect timing! So Xmas looks like being spent alone at home this year… Not feeling the joy!! 😦

25/12/13 – Xmas Day

After a few days of moping on my own, I decided to spend Christmas Day at my brother’s house, with the family. Can’t say I was the life and soul of the party, but it was nice of my brother to find room for me at the table. I decided to cheer things up by drawing some family caricatures, as I had come short of gifts this year I thought it might be appreciated.

Xmas caricatures Xmas caricatures Xmas caricatures Xmas caricatures Xmas caricatures

It was a nice day and for a moment I forgot I was looking at another year alone, ahead of me. Just a little bit low right now I must say, though a couple of friends have really come through for me. No plans as yet for NYE, though it would’ve been my 9th Wedding Anni, so I need some kind of distraction for sure!!  If this wind and rain ever stops then I’ll head for the Welsh mountains with my bike I reckon.

04/01/14 – Northern Soul

I was heading to a Northern Soul allnighter (in Leicester) in an effort to boost my flagging social life, when the organiser offered me free entry in return for bringing my pens along to draw the punters. Seemed like an ideal way to recoup some pennies whilst having fun, so I took a banner and some lights along at 8pm. I set up my stall, next to a nice old guy selling patches and paraphernalia and switched on my lamps. I sat… and sat… and sat, as the ball room filled up with middle aged dancers and the spinning began. But after 4 hours without a single customer I called it a day and packed away my kit. I was feeling pretty ashamed and so slipped away without even having a dance, with my tail between my legs! not the best start to 2014!

11/01/14 – Local

Had a local booking at a farm in the Leicestershire countryside, which looked to be low key, but I was happy for any work right now, so turned up with a smile. I was greeted by the host, whose 50th Birthday was being celebrated and he made me feel very welcome.

birthday caricatures

bog brush

After an enforced break of several weeks, I was raring to draw and entertain people, so the evening flew by as my pens swept across my pages and the punters loved it! All was going well and my confidence was returning, fuelled by smiles and odd flirtations from older ladies LOL. I went home that night feeling loved again and slept well.

The following day I found that my photos had been re-posted and tagged and commented on a-plenty! One lady in particular had posted her photo and then launched into a scathing critique of it, saying it bore no resemblance to her and that “THE GIT DEPRESSED ME!”!!  Her daughters of course placated her and joined the critique, asking if I was drawing the lady behind instead (ooooh I laughed :-I)

birthday caricature

Unfortunately I took her comments to heart and it dampened my pride the next day, after what I thought was a lovely evening.

13/01/14 – EXHIBITION!

I picked up my friend Dig this morning to help me hang my first exhibition of movie posters at the LCB Depot in Leicester. This would be my first proper exhibition ever, so I was rather excited! The venue is a little out of the way, with the gallery to the rear of the venue, which meant very little public footfall, but it was a good tester for the full exhibition I am planning next month.  I have to say, the Gallery space is awesome and once hung, the exhibition looked stunning… Shame I hadn’t really publicised it more. With that in mind I contacted all the local press and arranged for a photo shoot with Leicester Mercury photographers next week.

Spot On @ LCB Depot

caricature exhibitioncaricature exhibition

See full story here   https://spotongeorge.wordpress.com/spot-on-exhibitions/

15/01/14 – GERMANY (Lubeck)

Trip to Lubeck to draw large scale caricatures and make a presentation for Edding. See https://spotongeorge.wordpress.com/planes_trains_autobahns/

Lubeck caricatures

25/01/14 – Edding Conference

Another Edding booking, this time in Sherwood at a conference, which was a nice way to spend a saturday afternoon. I was once again working on the large Rota Board and I soon became the main attraction 😉

Edding caricatures

01/02/14 – Movie Premier

I was part of a caricaturing team at London’s Vue cinema (Leicester Sq) for the screening of “Sherman & Mr Peabody” which saw 6 of us in full DaVinci costume, while drawing hoards of young children, queuing to see the movie.

Davinci caricatures

Chiswick Wedding

I went straight from my Matinee at Leicester Square, to a wedding in Chiswick, which was packed into a small pub, with hardly room to move. Despite my waning energy levels, I managed to entertain the crowd for a full 3 hours and left them laughing as I headed to my car at Brent Cross.

Chiswick wedding caricatures Chiswick wedding caricatures

04/02/14 – Exhibition Opening

I had moved my exhibition from LCB Depot the day before and hung it at The Y Theatre, where it would remain for February. Tonight was my open evening and though 60 people had expressed an interest, I was expecting around 20-30, all of whom had pledged their support and promised to turn up. On the strength of this I supplied free bubbly and catering for 20 people, at my own cost, to make the evening go with a bang! To top it all, the local press had promised me a visit in exchange for some framed artwork of Gary Lineker.

As the evening began I was delighted to see several colleagues from London appear, along with some very good local friends, which made me very happy and the bubbly flowed amongst us. However, numbers peaked at 10 guests and several couples had not shown up, leaving me with £100 of wasted catering and an empty gallery. Even the local press photographer didn’t bother to show up or call to explain, which would’ve been polite.

The friends that did make the effort managed to fill the evening and enjoyed my Leicester hospitality, as we all made our way across town for the aftershow party at The Donkey pub. A good time was had by all and my heart was full when I finally retired for the evening.

exhibition launch

14/02/14 – Brighton Tattoo Con
I had been preparing for months to attend the annual Brighton Tattoo Con, with or without partner in tow, so no flooding would keep me away!

I had invested in a new pop-up banner, new title banner and business cards all with my new logo and identity, which were packed into my newly repaired car, along with my large rota-board, A-board and portfolio of posters. Then off I headed to Brighton, alone.

Spot On caricatures

Brighton Tattoo Con

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.741428745882362.1073741839.109076209117622&type=1&l=27a74262b0

The days were long (10.30am til 8pm) and hard to manage on my own, without help during the breaks or loading/unloading times, but I managed to get setup on friday and breakdown sunday on my own, in record time. Saturday was a very quiet day and I saw little custom, though I did sell a Pulp Fiction poster. The evenings saw me exhausted and lonely, so I retired to my tiny hotel room by 9pm each night, in preparation for a busier following day. Sunday came and business did pick up, nearly doubling my take from saturday, so I was happy to let my hair down and have a few drinks come sunday night, at the after show party.
20/02/14 – Leicester Mercury
My local paper decided to run a competition for a lucky reader to win a piece of my artwork, so I had to oblige with a photo once the winner had been chosen. The article was run on 20th February, which coincided with my workshop, as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Gary Lineker caricature
01/03/14 – GQ
My latest caricature for GQ is now on the shelves – p187, Louis CK (comedian)
Louis CK caricature
05/06 March – Birds!
I was hired to draw at an exhibition in Liverpool, which had a very specific and unusual theme. The exhibition itself was for diabetes and the stand I was representing chose to represent their punters as birds, with an individual latin bird name for each, to tie in with the ‘Bird Spotting’ theme. This proved to be a major challenge, as despite good intentions, after initial efforts, the staff at the stand left me to decide the names on my own… which added to the pressure of drawing, chatting and entertaining live. That said, I rose to the challenge and somehow managed two solid days of Latin doodles, which went down a storm! LOL
bird caricatures bird caricatures
I enjoyed my stay and I do love Liverpool, for all its architecture, naval and musical history, not to mention the friendliest Cabbies in the world! LOL. I had a great double room in the Park Plaza, just opposite the Liver Birds, on the water and the only complaint was the terrible food! Now (as you may recall) I have endured some tiny portions in my time, but this has to be the smallest steak and fewest chips I’ve ever paid £20 for!…

tiny steak

22/03/14 – King Power Stadium
I had a wedding booking at LCFC, with an Asian couple, which was nice and local, meaning I could be home in time for an evening in with my new girlfriend Elly.  There were plenty of characters in attendance and my first target was an Uncle with a great face and a scattering of gold teeth…
Asian wedding uncle Asian wedding
Asian wedding
I was having a great time until the Videographer insisted on shining a bright Halogen lamp in my face, blinding me for several minutes! I held my pad up, in front of my face in protest, but he wasn’t taking the hint and continued to herrang me with his spotlight. When holding a light reflecting pad of white paper under my chin, the last thing I need is a constant spotlight in my face and so I had to suspend my drawing until the chap got the hint and eventually moved on. Each time I saw the light returning, I made a hasty retreat, with my entourage of punters in tow! LOL
There was no shortage of willing subjects and the evening flew by, with plenty of smiles. I headed home to find Elly busy in the kitchen, cooking me a lemon meringue pie and seafood lasagne 🙂
An almost perfect evening.
23/03/14 – The Ashes
One of my favorite venues recommended me for a last minute wedding today at The Ashes in Staffs. It was a sunny day but with an icy wind, so I hoped photos would be inside, to save my poor icicle fingers! Today I had an assistant;  I loved having Elly around and the day went well, having someone else to show off to.
The Ashes wedding The Ashes wedding
The crowd were a fun mix of East Asian and Northern Irish folks, all with a wicked sense of humor and many seemed to be Doctors, so slightly more intellectual heckling ensued!  One young lady named Poppy (above) was studying psychology and in particular Visual Cognition in facial recognition, which is a passion of mine and so we chatted for a while and compared notes on various well known experiments in Vis Cog. A delightful afternoon all in all.
3-4 April, Paris
I had been passed a job by a colleague to work an evening in Paris, which I was looking forward to, as I’d be working alongside another colleague David Lewis.  We travelled by train and stayed just the one night, but managed to fill the following day with culture and a visit to the Musee D’Orsay and the Louvre.
Musee D'Louvre
14/04/14 – Filming
My casting agent had contacted me with a bit-part acting job for a TV commercial, which was being filmed in Cardiff and paid relatively well.  I accepted the challenge and headed to Cardiff at the crack of dawn, to launch my TV acting career!
I arrived on time, around 1pm but had to skip lunch, due to traffic delays, so my stomach was rumbling and my head was giddy. I headed straight to Giovanni’s Cookery School where I was due to be filmed and waited for the crew to return from lunch. The crew arrived around 2pm and began filming bowls of prawns in the kitchen, while the producer showed me exactly what my part entailed. The commercial was to be for Hungry House, which catered for fast food via telephone or online orders. An advert had already been filmed in Holland, which did not make the food look appetising and so the close-up shots of the food were to be re-shot, including a piping hot pepperoni pizza, to be opened by me. The original Dutch actor was unavailable and so I had to play the double, as a prison convict, opening his delicious pizza!
convict caricaturist Hungry House convict
The filming was a surprisingly long process and I never realised how much went in to close up food filing! All in all they made 27 pizzas, which all had to be brushed up,  spruced, oiled and then steamed to look appetising, but each pizza soon wilted, curled and turned to rubber under the lights and so a new one was required for each take. My three second film slot turned into a dozen takes, which lasted the duration of the day, which was not very comfortable for me in small handcuffs! LOL
It was good experience though and at the end of the day I begged to take custody of the last pizza, as I was fading quickly and needed to devour it post haste before heading to my friend Picasso’s house for an evening of relaxation.
Look out for the next Hungry House advert and when you see the old Con sat at his table, opening his pizza, those hands were mine!! 😉
24/04/14 – Graham Norton Show
My good friends Simon & Sheba Cassini invited me along to be a part of the audience for the Graham Norton show,  which promised to be a fun night in London. The cover letter for the show advised us to ‘dress to impress’ which we decided to do! My colleague Jed and I both had rather spiffing top hats and semi Stem-Punk outfits which we donned and boarded our trains to hoots of derision from the local inbreds!!
Once in London we met up and headed for a bar close t the ITV studios, where we did our best to look damn dapper!
steam punk carix
We soon hooked up with Simon and Sheba, then made our way inside the studios, which was very exciting!! The guests were Zach Effron, Seth Rogan and Matt Le Blanc, along with music from the Kaiser Chiefs! I was very excited 😀
Graham Norton stage
Sheba had a guest spot in the Red Chair, to tell an amusing story about Bear Grylls, so we were at fever pitch when she was called onto the chair. Unfortunately Sheba was a little too cheeky to Graham and suffered the ‘Eject Lever’ very early on! Ha ha haaaa…. We loved it 🙂
10/05/14 – Birthday Weekend
After several weeks of extreme isolation and loneliness, I decided to get out of my house and making  the effort to socialize. This of course meant travelling to Nottingham, Oxford and London to meet my best friends.
I headed to Nottingham to meet my good friend Homer, for a spot of shopping and a meal, followed by some drinks and a good old catch up, after having not seen Homer for several months! We trawled the vintage shops and Antique stalls, for uniquities and I came across a rather fetching fur coat with my name on it!!
fur coat
 Not camp at all, but a bargain at £35!! LOL.  I bought it and we made our way across nottingham for the best steak house in town!
Soulville Steakhouse
Had a fantastic fillet steak, then we a bar called Filthy’s for some exotic beers and chatted til the wee small hours. Was great to catch up and remember who my real friends are.
Birthday date
Next day was my 46th birthday and  I had a date with a lady in Bicester, near Oxford, which went extremely well and bought yet another smile to my face. We had a roll around in the park, in the sun, along with a couple of beers and some giggles. Hope to see her again soon.
12/05/14 – Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art Class
Monday saw me hop a train to London to meet good friends the Cassinis, at London’s South Bank for some Burlesque fun and frolics! I had booked a hotel near the London Eye, with a great view of the South Bank and enjoyed a walk along the river to my favorite Mexican Restaurant “Wahaca” for some belly filling goodness with Simon and Sheba.  We then made our way to the Wonderground area (Udderbelly) and waited in the rain for our evening to begin.
My good friend Aaron Jacobs joined us and we made some introductions, before making our way inside and bagging a good table. The evening promised bare naked Burlesque acts, which we had 2/5/10 minutes draw, then compare in order to win prizes. The first act was awesome and we enjoyed warming up on her voluptuous curves.
burlesque burlesque sketch
The evening was great fun and we soon got into the swing of the quick sketches. The second model was fully clothed, which gave the pose a 1920s feel, which was reflected in my style.
burlesque sketch
Ironically this highly stylised sketch won me the ‘Best of Evening’ prize on stage, which consisted of a Book and a mini easel.  I was extremely chuffed and loved every minute on stage in my spats and hat!
burlesque sketch burlesque sketch

good friends

I must say, I enjoyed every minute of my birthday weekend and vowed to make  time for more similar events in the future. I was in my element and began to wonder why I didn’t do this every weekend?!
10/07/14 – Ricoh Golf
A repeat customer, Ricoh once again hired my services to entertain in the VIP suite at the Ricoh British Open Women’s golf tournament at the Royal Birkdale in Southport. I way there for 4 days, staying at the Plaza Hotel, which had a fab view
Plaza Southport
I had predrawn several golfing figures to be drawn over on a new piece of technology from Ricoh; Whiteboard. This was essentially a giant iPad, with touch sensitive screen, which could be drawn directly onto. I was looking forward to the challenge.
Chalie Hull caricature
I donned my most respectable golfing gear and headed to the pavillion, where my screens awaited. Unfortuantely they chose not to display my caricature of Charlie Hull and so the backdrop was rather bland and uninviting, however I did my best to drum up custom.
I had a great time doodling and getting to grips with the screen, only drawback being the loose floorboards beneath my feet, so with every guest walking by, the screen wobbled and swayed… not ideal.  It was great fun though and I enjoyed the experience over the few days. My techn ique improved and I took a few snaps of my better faces.
digital caricature
digital caricature
digital caricature digital caricature
I look forward to the prospect of working with Ricoh again soon and possibly in Abu Dhabi next year.
01/08/14 – GQ!
 My latest piece is on the shelves today in GQ, Tiger Woods…
Tiger_Woods_GQ
06/09/14 – Weekend off!
Had a wedding booked in for saturday 6th, an all day package near Bedford, worth a good week’s wage to me. I had been emailing the Bride to check in pre-wedding but had no response and so phoned her to reassure her that I was ready to entertain her at the weekend.  To my surprise the bride claimed that her wedding had been cancelled and that she had cancelled my services some weeks ago. I was dumbstruck as I had received no notice and a phone call one day prior to the wedding was not nearly enough notice to cancel me. I wished her well and asked for an email confirming the cancellation, which was not forthcoming.  I decided to call the venue, to make sure I was not required the next day, but they told me the wedding was indeed going ahead!
Now, do I turn up and uphold my part of the contract or do I not turn up (despite a signed contract) and risk having the Bride smear my name should a dispute arise? Something in writing from my client would’ve decided this, but the bride’s lack of honesty prompted me to take immediate action, to uphold my reputation and professional rights and I passed the matter on to my union; Equity to handle.
Either way, I was now free for the weekend, without a week’s wages and without another job to go to….
07/09/14 – Wedding Fayre
I had invested in some new POS kit, including new banners, fliers, lights, table and an iPad stand for the new wedding exhibition season. Sunday came and I was ready to show off at Butterley Grange near Derby. It was a lovely day and the venue was suitably ostentacious to compliment my black & gold stand…
Butterley wedding fayre Butterley wedding fayre
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