Archive for the ‘Christmas Parties’ Category

Always amazed at the difference an audience can make… worked a posh wedding at an upper class venue (black tie) where the guests thrust their kids at me and demanded to know why I was avoiding the creche. Indeed at the end I was intimidated by a burly father who demanded his ‘child in tears’ was drawn before I left! With 80 grown up guests to please, I hardly had time to manage the toddlers too. People ignored me, indeed even the bride wasn’t interested, so I left the wedding, having been threatened, not having drawn the bride and groom, feeling rather abused!
Next gig was a 2 hour drive away, so I was tight for time. It was a 50th house party in a very swanky residence. The birthday lady was happy and easy going, so I ploughed into the room demanding ‘ugly volunteers!’ which worked a treat!! People were amazed at my speed (fuelled by my drive) and I had no shortage of happy volunteers, who told me I was the hi-light of the evening. My drawings reflected their happiness and I stayed an extra half hour to keep them happy.
So why did one crowd find me brilliant, while another found me an annoyance?! I can only put it down to audience expectations. The bride it seems (or her guests) expected a kids’ entertainer, while the birthday girl expected a star attraction! I can happily do one but not the other.

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production line

i do this for a living

I do this for a living – so trust me, I know what I’m doing.

I do this for a living – so I will give you the best service your money can buy.

I do this for a living – so I’m guaranteed to turn up to your event, unlike other part timers.

I do this for a living – so please don’t ask me for help or advice to get you started as my competition.

I do this for a living – so please don’t ask me why I charge so much. Its my weekly wage!

I do this for a living – so please don’t ask me to draw at your community event ‘because it will be good exposure’ without offering me a weekly wage.

I do this for a living – so please don’t email me random selfies, saying ‘I wonder what you’d do to my face?’ without paying me first.

I do this for a living – so please don’t ask me to donate a week’s wages for a charitable cause, by attending your charity event without pay.

I do this for a living – so don’t compare me to some random part time hobby artist you met in the pub, who busks for spare change or draws for pin money.

I do this for a living – so please let me go home when I’ve finished, without threatening violence because I won’t draw you for free.

I do this for a living – so have the decency to let me know if you have cancelled your booking, before I lose a week’s wages.

I do this for a living – that’s why I sit here writing these notes, to educate the public, so one day they may think twice before treating me like an amateur.

 

Came across a new group of young caricaturists yesterday, all advertising their services online, as a collective. They took the unusual step of advertising prices for various counties, on their site and the fees were roughly half the industry standard! They clearly do not have a long term business plan!

I am self employed. I am trained and qualified as an artist. As such, my business mentality has always valued my services and artistic talent, while realising that I would never be given a wage rise, unless I made myself worth it.

These new artists clearly do not value their services or their place within the industry and by pricing themselves so low, they will only make themselves the poorer and less popular! They exhibit a ‘short term gains’ mentality and encourage existing artists to compete by lowering our prices in turn. Be aware that lower prices do not encourage new jobs, it just means you work harder for less money at the same job! The logical conclusion being that we will all have to offer more hours for less money, in order to win the same jobs; pretty soon we will all be working a 40 hour week, while earning a little above the minimum wage! Is that all we caricaturists are worth??

Get a business plan guys! If you want to stay in business, then find your worth, find your place in the market and charge accordingly. The only way you will get a pay rise in the next 25 years is if you make it your self and that will never happen if idiots like you keep lowering our market value!!!! WISE UP SUCKERS!

 

 

Recently I have picked up more corporate event bookings and larger events, where I am expected to tow-the-line and work more like a production line than an entertainer, often in unsuitable circumstances. I was beginning to question what I do and if I enjoy it anymore, but last night’s booking has restored my joy in what I do. I walked into a swanky VIP event, smelling of garlic with stains down my suit (after an earlier food accident), full of self doubt and apprehension and the first hour dragged as the VIP clients avoided the smelly weirdo with tattoos, but by the second hour I had won them over and people were clamouring to be drawn. The poshest, prettiest, potentially vainest people were complimenting me on my drawings and so a rapport was struck and I was free to put on a little act and show off to the audience. I had 100% positive feedback and left the event feeling a million dollars.
Such a contrast to other less successful gigs where I am touting for business in a loud, crowded, dark bar or dining room, to be ignored or told “Looks nuffink like me!” or even better “Draw a dick on his head!” and then threatened if I don’t draw all his 6 kids before I go. I’d rather look for more job satisfaction.
I do so enjoy performing as opposed to working like a kitchen porter or production line! So much more liberating that sitting at an easel behind a huge queue of demanding punters, but my hat is off to those Carix who manage that format.

Each year it takes us all by surprise and each year we end up crossing our fingers and hoping that the spirit of celebration takes the nation by storm again. So far its the usual slim pickings for me, with a stark November and and even bleaker looking December ahead. I am comforted by the steady stream of random last minute commissions, from bosses who remember they have to produce a calendar within 5 days or love struck boyfriends wanting to show their affection by spending £5 on a scribble!  Most of these enquiries I tend to shrug off, unless my bank balance tells me otherwise, as they tend to be a huge waste of time, often ending with the blunt email, telling me that after a week spent chasing the project, they have found someone cheaper!!

I am currently whittling away at a studio commission which will pay my mortgage and help me into December, but my diary is still clear. I have fielded a couple of dinner party enquiries “Could you pop to Guildford/Blackpool for an hour to entertain my 20 guests?” which all ended predictably in the negative.  That said, I have just negotiated a booking from a new agent who thought he would school me on what my fee should be and how lucky I should feel to get an enquiry in today’s climate… The cheek!  I was probably entertaining diners when he was potty training and have survived 23 years without his help!!  But beggars cannot be choosers and so a deal was struck and I now count 4 bookings so far this Xmas season.

Gone are the days of 18 parties and too much work to manage, thanks in no short part to the influx of new artists, who believe the agents that dictate their fee and remind them how lucky they are not to be stacking Tesco shelves!

My standards have not slipped, my quality of work is still very high, yet I am suffering at the busiest party season of the year. Punters are still hiring caricaturists, according to tales from my many colleagues, therefore I must surmise that its simply down to a flooded market with increased competition. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so!

 

UPDATE: 16/12/13

One more Xmas party tomorrow, a last minute booking as usual, then I have no more weekly wage until… perhaps March?  The perils of self employment.  Along with the freedom of being your own Boss, you have to endure the hardships of no guaranteed wage and when you are used to being paid a weekly wage, that can be harsh!

Merry Christmas

I recently drew at a wedding which turned out to be the most unpleasant reception I’d endured in years. I say endured because it left a bad taste in my mouth but I was forced to smile tight lipped, for fear of my own safety if I should speak out.  Asides the usual unacceptable racist taunts of “draw him as a Golly Wog… you only need black paper” to the few black guests, I also had to endure two drunks at my shoulder discussing ‘the best fights they’d started’ and telling a girl how they beat up a ‘Fat git eating a kebab’ (unprovoked) the previous weekend and a cyclist for jumping a red light before that – apparently proud that they had broken his hand!  But smile and sparkle I did, though my skin was crawling.

I was forced to move spots several times when the loud mouthed racist behind me kept farting – with devastating  effect! The final straw came when I was drawing a Mike Tyson lookalike and another drunk blurted “May as well draw a lump of coal!” I stopped drawing and glared at him to a loud gasp and “Wooooo daggers!” from the audience. I think he got the message, but what on earth made him think I would agree with his twisted humour in the first place? What makes this still acceptable in modern society??

I felt like I was swimming in a shark tank, with a bloody lip and couldn’t wait to escape the heavy atmosphere. The icing on my cake came when an orange leather faced woman asked me “Do you do proper art, ya know painting and stuff… or just charactertures?!”   I didn’t realise it was a multiple choice question, one or the other but not possibly both?!  I encountered pretty much every  kind of ignorance at the event and was very happy to slip away while the bulk of guests were on the dancefloor.

As a professional artist and entertainer it is my job to be charming and entertaining, but this is hard to maintain when I am insulted, badgered, bullied and made complicit to down right racist ignorance. I just wish racist idiots would leave me alone and not assume that my shaved head and tattoos gave them license to include me in their targeted bullying!!!