Archive for the ‘Christmas Parties’ Category

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!!!

Never let it be said that I am uncharitable, I have my charities which I contribute to via DD on a monthly basis and I rarely pass a beggar by without offering some coins, not to mention my Lottery donations. However I do suffer regular begging emails from various charities, all asking for my time and assuming I would lose nothing by offering them it. On the contrary, as caricaturing is my full time occupation, every day which goes unpaid is the equivalent to losing one week’s wages. How many of you would gladly give £450 to a charity and go hungry for two weeks??  How many of you would work without pay EVERY week, foregoing your income in order to aid a charity? Every charity event I attend means one less paying job.

This week I have received three requests from charitable organisations, asking me to do just that, which is equivalent to losing £1300 of my wages. In an effort to redraw the balance, I have drafted a response letter which I shall send to each charity who contacts me from now on:

Dear Sirs,

I am a sparse profit making creative venture, founded in 1991, with numerous celebrity endorsements, but desperately in need of funding. Rises in inflation, fuel prices, materials and competition mean that surviving as a sole trading artist is painfully difficult. All little Georgie wants is the chance to make people smile and offer all the equal opportunity to enjoy his works of art. I write to you in the hope that you can offer Georgie gainful employment and help raise cash for the ‘Help Art Live Fund’. As a profit making venture I cannot offer his time for free, but he would love to entertain your guests for the full going market rate of £420.

Please help make little Georgie smile again, pay the full fee so another artist doesn’t end his days as a tearful voice at a McDonalds’ drive-thru.

I look forward to your response.

Following the publication of my advice regarding underpricing and lowering the market value of Caricatures, I felt the need to point out the dangers of flooding the market with cheap artists.

New caricaturists are currently quoting clients ridiculously low fees for their services (and even charging ‘per person’), the net result of which is to lower the market value of all caricaturists in the eyes of the customer. The long-term result is far worse; Lower fees lead to more clients being able to afford to hire caricaturists, in turn the caricaturist will need to work twice as hard, just to earn a decent weekly wage. Pretty soon, every event will see cheap, crap caricaturists, scrawling their trade and becoming common-place. The end result being that no-one wants or respects caricaturists anymore, having grown tired of consistently crap, cliche’d renditions of caricatures being pedaled for pennies… Indeed hiring a caricaturist as a wedding gift will be as popular as giving a stick of seaside ROCK!! The mass influx of new artists, presumably prompted by the Recession, high unemployment and the idea of making an easy buck will magnify the above effect and possibly see the end of established artists and newbies alike

Please, please, please Newbies… SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE!!  All I have to do to compete is lower my fees and I would mop up the customer market, but we’d all lose out, so lets keep the fees at a respectable level, along with the levels of drawing and professionalism.

Update – December 2012

This year’s Christmas season is predictably bleak once again, though several dates have been flooded with enquiries and events are popping up all over. Reports are coming in of new artists at events and old agents not getting in touch. This is the effect of Flooding the Market! A recent web-crawl of Google showed several new caricaturist sites popping up and one particularly hideous Agency website listed around 50 artists, the top 20 of whom, I didn’t recognize!  Presumably this is the new influx of would-be artists, attracted by a flagging employment market and the promise of a good daily rate with a pen in hand.  The agents of course are lapping them up like sharks in a feeding frenzy! All that fresh meat, willing to work for what ever rate they’re told by the puppet-masters. Not one with a proper business plan or knowledge of their own market, many will flounder in the next year or so, but not before they’ve taken the work from established artists and re-enforced the artificially low fee scales, set by agents who (on the whole) don’t care about the survival of their artists.

I have secured 5 Xmas parties this year, compared to a previous 18, most via cherished agents, who know my worth and offer me proper rates. I thanks them, but must assume the other bookings have all been snapped up by the Supermarket sites. I can’t blame the public for wanting to cut costs, but its the Agents’ job to look after the Artists’ interests, not just grow fat off the feeding frenzy caused by inexperienced artists and budget conscious clients.

A punter remarked the other evening; “You draw for GQ and have been on TV? With talent like that you must be booked solid?!” With 22 years experience and a good reputation, I’da hoped so, but as I explained; some people aren’t shown an Artist’s pedigree, only their fee and Cheap is always Better isn’t it?….

A flooded caricaturist market does have one up-side; a recent enquirer was flabberghasted by the proliferation of websites and Agency lists. Not knowing where to begin, they simply chose the most professional looking and least confusing site and ended up booking me. Some are still prepared to be discerning… That gives me hope in the caricaturists’ version of Where’s Waldo?

Update – January 2013

Just lost one of my only bookings to a cheaper artist in Chester. Had a further two enquiries, which came to nothing, presumably for similar reasons. I cannot blame the clients for wanting to save money, though it is always a false economy, as cheaper artists have a tendency to disappoint their clients. Quite basically, the flood of new artists bumbling into my industry and charging bargain basement prices, will ruin the industry for everyone. As caricaturists become more common and less valued, we will all be forced to drop prices to match these idiots and many will be forced out of full time business. Its heart breaking to watch for an artist of 20+ years experience and reputation, who can do nothing to change the trend other than to Blog about it!


Just read with interest a colleague’s Blog, which gave helpful hints on how to become a professional caricaturist.  I found the read interesting and well informed, it offered good advice and followed a basic business model, which many new artists forget about. Nice to see a professional offering his advice. However I must question the logic of encouraging other caricaturists onto the market and helping them to take your work away! The basic business model given aimed at working 2 bookings per week, every week of the year (104 per anum) which is a realistic average. However, speaking as a veteran caricaturist, I have seen the market flood since I began in 1991, when there were around 30 Pro-Carix trading, at 2 bookings each week. Now there are more like 80 artists fighting for the same market, which is not growing, but shrinking! Imagine if another 10 artists are encouraged by the advice given (on the Blog in question) and they take the work from my colleague; making his business model unattainable, with just half the bookings available each year. That is sheer madness surely?! Recent full-time converts may be reveling in their new life choices and enjoying the Caricaturist community, but it is a fragile existence and should be shared with care.

In addition to this, the basic attraction of hiring a Caricaturist is in their unique skill, rare talent and novelty value. If everyone becomes a caricaturist, then everyone will own a caricature, thus no-one will want a caricature anymore. This was underlined last weekend at a wedding in Preston, where a guest remarked:

“I’m not getting a bloody caricature, had one in York and it was crap. You can’t move for bloody caricaturists up there, all over the town they are!”

Quite simply, caricaturists will soon become as commonplace as Magicians and no-one wants a Magician at their event anymore! I would seriously consider the bigger picture before I encouraged any new caricaturists onto the market!!

Update – 26 April 2013

The effects of a flooded market are starting to show. In recent chats with colleagues, most complain about how quiet the market is and how few jobs they currently have, some artists struggling to keep afloat and deeply worried.  They wonder why Agents are no longer calling and offering work and who exactly is getting all the jobs? Presumably Agents are now spoilt for choice and can ‘cherry-pick’ the cheapest artists for each job, as is their Modus Operandi, with no thought for those artists who have helped build their business.

By comparison I have had a recent flurry of work,  but none through Agents. I saw the flood coming a few years back and took precautions, by ploughing my time and efforts into promoting myself online, in order to become independent of Agents and their whims.

I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again; Agents should not have the power to control our industry, they enjoy  a one-sided relationship with their artists, where they wield the power of survival, but offer no loyalty in return. In hard times surely some signs of loyalty would help those established, yet struggling artists to survive…

Update – 18 June 2018

Currently suffering my worst year in business ever, not due to lack of interest, as I have dozens of enquiries from one agent, but they also send the same quote to all these new artists:

In order to provide a BETTER CHOICE for your event, also requested quotes from the following suppliers:
• John Valcas – Go to request
• David Hensley Caricature – Go to request 
• Drop Dead Caricatures – Go to request
• Groves Caricatures – Go to request
• MK Caricatures – Go to request
• Paul Baker – Caricatures – Go to request
• Cartoon Candy Caricatures – Go to request
• Ivo the Caricaturist – Go to request
• Silu Design Studio – Live Caricature – Go to request
• SAVAGE CARICATURES – Go to request
• Francesco Caricatures – Go to request
• Alex Caricatures – Go to request 

I have only met two of these artists and so the others are new to me. Proof that the market is already flooded, as predicted. Presumably they are all cheaper than me, as I rarely get a confirmed booking, despite my quality and reputation being immaculate.

Spot on caricatures


Robbie Savage caricature

cheap caricaturists

Other caricature resources: – – – 

Last weekend a client unwittingly made the rudest comment I’d heard in a while;  “My mate at work draws these. He draws ’em in dust on the back of the van (he’s a sweeper) but they’re dead good… I keep telling him to do this, cos he does ’em for free… He could make a fortune!!”…
Definitive proof that many punters see Caricaturists as amateurs that are no better than Street Sweepers. Not once did it cross his mind that maybe it takes more than just the ability to scrawl a doodle in dust in order to entertain thousands of people every year. Or maybe I’m taking it too seriously and shoulda laughed along and proclaimed “Yeah, then he’d be just like me!”….

So just remember folks, the next time you’re offered a Caricaturist for £100, you’re probably hiring a Street Sweeper. Would you hire a Dustman to perform your dentistry?!

(A warm welcome to our US colleagues reading this. To explain; the UK is a very small market, 60+ artists competing in a country the size of a small State, the Carix market is divided into “Colleagues & Competitors” as we all have to fight each other for clients. Some new competitors have yet to learn good business and customer skills but are happy to ravage the diminishing market for their short term gains. They will never become colleagues)

Following a spate of client complaints regarding one particular new artist, currently blundering her way onto the market, I may very soon feel the need to name and shame such artists on my Blog.  Any artist who lets a client down at short notice (repeatedly), leaving them without a replacement (presumably in favour of a better paid gig) or who undercuts the Caricaturist market by charging as little as £100, then charges per person at the wedding, deserves no respect from within their own community. I suggest any such new artists should shape up and stop giving us reputable professionals a bad name!

More let downs

Just heard of the 3rd alleged last minute let-down by a new female artist in 12 months. This is the second client that has alleged she was rude to them, on this occasion calling the client ‘THICK’!!!  This inexcusable behavior will not be tolerated within our industry and on behalf of all professional caricaturists I apologize, though I do not include this artist as a professional.

January 2012

Just had another two separate clients (including Cambridge News) reporting an artist quoting both £120 and ‘charging per head’.  In one instance the client hired my very talented colleague Luisa Calvo instead, as they thought the idea of charging per head was ‘tacky’!  You see the image this down-market trading is giving us… Glad to see Luisa is flying the flag of quality 🙂