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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.

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!

Last November I received the call from Brad Pitt’s PA, saying how much they loved my Pulp Fiction artwork and that they would like to commission me to draw Brad Pitt for his 50th birthday gift! I jumped at the chance and headed south to the set of his latest movie, which was being shot in the UK. I spent the most exhilarating day with Brad and his film crew, on set, watching the explosions and drama unfold before the cameras, while I snapped a few shots and drew the crew.

I toiled away at the composition, which included his Personal Team (hairdresser, lookalike, PA, driver, dresser) for over a week and when it was finished I had the honor of presenting it to Brad Pitt on set on his birthday in December. Unfortunately he decided to shoot a ‘closed set’ on his birthday and so I did not get to see his reaction to the artwork, but he must’ve liked it because he asked for a copy of my Fight Club poster too!!

Unfortunately I signed a Non-disclosure waver, which means that I cannot impart any details, but as I retain original copyright, I assume I can now share the artwork with the public.

Brad Pitt Caricature

Happy Birthday Brad!

It was a joy to be on set with Brad and an honour to be chosen as his artist. Best day of last year for sure 🙂

 

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

If you commission a caricaturist to draw your caricature, surely you are doing so because you wish to see your likeness through HIS/HER eyes and not your own for once? So why (when shown your caricature) would you choose to edit the features and have it altered, just to match your own perception? If you want that, then surely a photograph would be more suitable than a caricature. If you can’t handle the truth, don’t look through the eyes of a caricaturist! Simples 😉

Lou Reed caricature

 

RIP Lou Reed

There are several online forums and FB pages which I enjoy posting on and reading, sharing and comparing styles of hand drawn caricature with other international artists. From one such page I was recently asked to run a caricature workshop, sharing the secrets of my style with the world and helping others to draw like me. I’m afraid I simply cannot see any benefit from doing this and so politely declined.

Imagine if suddenly everyone began producing artwork to my standard, in my style? My style would instantly be de-valued and common as day, as you could get a ‘George style caricature’ from almost anyone! I have already noticed several artists copying certain line and shading techniques from my live caricature work, resulting in semi-clones on the internet.  Value comes only with uniqueness and so promoting a generic style can only harm my own value and any artist who does so is only promoting their own demise in my opinion.

I am of course flattered that others may be inspired by aspects of my work, as inspiration is important to all artists, but teaching artists to draw like me is off the agenda I’m afraid!