Archive for the ‘Entertainment Agencies’ Category

After 24 years as a professional caricaturist and entertainer, I still find myself battling against the same deadly foe; The Amateur Artist!  Despite my excellent reputation for quality service and product, I am constantly compared to ‘the local bloke, who draws for half the price’!

Today I demonstrated my skills as an artist and entertainer at a local Wedding Exhibition, after which I was approached by two venues, both of whom used the same local caricaturist at their weddings. Their main complaint was that he sat in a corner, head down and took 10-15 minutes to draw each individual, which did not impress the Brides or other guests, waiting to be drawn. They could not believe how fast and entertaining I was and both venues offered me a space at their next exhibition, on the strength of what they’d witnessed.

Now I’m no exceptional caricaturist, just a professional, much like dozens of other professional caricaturists, all having to fight against the infux of untutored, unskilled amateurs, who are collectively killing our industry! It should not be my place to constantly educate the public to the standard of artists and entertainers available, it should be the place of those selling us and those competing with us to step up to the mark, as opposed to us lowering our standards and fees. Unless these Artists and agencies peddling our trade get their act together and start selling quality entertainment, then our industry will be reduced to a novelty much like a chocolate fountain or crappy photo booth!!

I’m just saying!

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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

Chicken or Egg? Who is to blame when a gig flops?

You’re having a party, you want an entertainer, so you go to an Agent and pay for a caricaturst, but they turn out to be sub-standard; who is to blame?

I had this report from a fellow caricaturist;

“I`ve just been talking to a guy about a caricature artist he recently hired. He said that the artist was crap and they he booked the artist via an agency. He didn`t have a name for the artist. I told him that I put in a quote for this job. He told me that he thought that my fee was to high, but he now wishes that he had booked with me………. The booking was 10 minutes from my house!”

The client was let down by both the Agency and the Artist, who frankly shouldn’t have been put forward by the Agent. On the other hand, if the client wants to pay peanuts, then he shouldn’t complain when a monkey with a pen turns up!

Folks, this is further proof, you get what you pay for. Simple rule for life; CHEAP IS NEVER GOOD!

I love my job; the laughter, the people, the travel, the entertaining, the artwork and wanted to share my passion with you, by relaying my experiences and opinions from a 20+ year life as an artist/entertainer.  I hope this Blog enlightens you, while displaying my Passion,  Honesty and Integrity.

I am above-all honest, some would say too honest, which can raise some eyebrows, but I stand by my honesty and am not in the habit of writing lies. Perhaps some would rather I simply did not write…

I believe in standing up for my beliefs and my passions. In the Caricature industry in particular, where (in the UK) there is no regulation, I am proud to take a stance against charlatans and monopolies who would damage my industry. I alone have stood up against the three largest online Agencies in the UK, who dominate my industry and control our prices, only I have spoken out against them. I no longer patronise them or support their undercutting businesses in any way, how many other caricaturists can say the same?

I am a perfectionist, which leads me to be a critic, which in turn makes me few friends, but I will not suffer fools gladly and certainly will not pretend to respect them just to maintain the status quo. A talentless singer gains no respect from the music/entertainment industry, so why should a talentless caricaturist be given any?

I do not tolerate racists, sexists, bigots, blaggers, back-stabbers, undercutters, amateurs or charlatans. I may not be allowed to name them, but I will not befriend or condone them. 

This is my public stance.

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As artists and entertainers I’m sure we are all familliar with the need for Entertainment Agents, to help sell our services. Over the years many have come and gone, often leaving huge debts in their wakes. A new breed of Internet Agents are emerging, cornering the caricaturist market by buying up all available ‘CARICATURIST’ relevant domain names and keywords, then re-selling them to us (the artists) by asking us to ‘BID’ for the cheapest performance price. Famously 1st Choice were (ironically) the first to cotton on to this trend and have fallen out with many professional artists as a result. Myself included.

The practice of cornering the Caricaturist online market, then publishing minimum prices for all to see and outbid is frankly abhorant and I condemn it whole heartedly! One Agency Website had me listed as £325, alongside a snot-nosed student amateur for £215… how and why should I compete with this? I instead promote the art of caricature, encouraging artists to polish up their game and compete either on a locality or quality basis. Frankly if you ain’t good enough to compete with the top UK artists, you simply shouldn’t be in the business!!!

Today I was once again approached by Warble Ents, asking me for prices to publish on their NEW caricaturist website “Book-A-Caricaturist”….. I refused and instead have vowed to wipe this practice out of business. I urge all artists reading this to do the same, it can only be good for all of us;

If we co-operate and publish prices:

A) The cheapest, possibly poorest quality or most heavily subsidised (part-time) artists will benefit.

B) The agencies will benefit by adding a higher commission and cornering a market they know very little about.

C) The higher priced artists will be forced to drop prices and possibly go out of business because of the lack of direct internet interest.

However, if we (The Artists) all boycott these charlatan websites, who are NOT looking after OUR interests and offer NO professional loyalty:

A) The ‘Super-Sites’ will disappear from online Google searches, leaving genuine caricaturists’ sites more coverage.

B) We the artists will control our OWN rates instead of bowing to Agency price wars.

C) The cheaper, less professional, poor business minded artists will be forced to shape up or get out!

D) The art of caricature will be promoted to the highest of OUR abilities, exhibiting our fine quality art and entertainment.

Why should I publish my Discounted Agency rate online? How many times have I had to deal with irate Agents, asking why my rates have been published elsewhere?

Lets take control of our own destiny! Please read this, consider the implications of a Super-Site price war, then join my thinking and boycott these sites!!!

WARBLE

Now these were a nice bunch of guys, new to the scene, handing out random gigs. Then they decided to monopolise the caricature market by building a Super-market style online agency and publish artists’ prices. Unfortunately they don’t like their artists also being visible online and so started sending petty emails regarding ‘trust issues’… I am proud to say they are added to my list of online agencies that no longer list me as one of their slaves! You guys can kiss ass and let them run your business for you, I’m gonna concentrate on running my own.

“You are an awkward, obnoxious person – and George, you will get yours!” – Anon Online Agent (Feb 2010)