Archive for the ‘Caricatures’ Category

sub 5 club crop

Just created a Facebook group for live caricature artists who can produce lightning drawings in five minutes or less  “Sub-5 Club”.

In the UK especially, we have an established tradition of quick draw caricaturists, trained to draw in a hurry, while standing up, at busy live events and they are truly talented eccentrics on the whole. But these social butterflies are often over shadowed by the thriving American booth (retail) caricature market, setting trends for protracted full colour artwork, a trend which is creeping over to the UK.

I am a member of and even moderate several international Facebook groups and pages, dedicated to caricatures, but most seem to concentrate on hyper realism and highly finished studio or US booth style caricatures. I found this unfair when posting spot on caricatures, drawn live in under 4 minutes, which seemed to go un-noticed, in favour of other full colour, more time consuming caricatures. There simply should be no comparison. Therefore a dedicated group seemed the obvious solution.

The group has been widely welcomed and we already have 150+ members, many of whom are posting daily photos of their fast work. That said, I have already had to deal with the odd digital artist or booth artist, bent on posting glossy full colour creations and hoping to slip under my radar! Much as I admire the full colour work, there are already dedicated group pages where these can be displayed and full colour caricatures rarely take less than five minutes!!

Please check out the group page and support it, to help keep this tradition and skill alive.

SUB-5 CLUB

Other caricature resources:  https://www.caricatures-uk.com – https://www.wedding-caricatures.co.uk – http://www.caricatures.live – https://www.itoons.uk/ 

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A recent ISCA post by Dave Stephens:

Without likeness, there is no value in a caricature. But profit?
Yeah, you can make a profit without likeness. But do you really want to?”

A common (and valid) complaint concerning Caricatures is that some artists repeat eyes, mouths, noses and even head shapes instead of accurately capturing the unique aspects of their subject – this approach (or deficit) is called “Cookie Cutter Caricatures.”

This is my take on the reasons for the “cookie cutter” habit:
50% of cookie cutter artists have an inability to “see.”
25% of cookie cutter artists have an inability to care.
25% of cookie cutter artists fear giving offense (a bravery deficit)…

To break it down further, Tom Richmond said something like, “Anyone can be taught to draw, but nobody can be taught to SEE…” In my opinion, artists that “cookie cut” because they have difficulty ‘seeing’ and understanding the intricacies of shape, size and arrangement of the face might explain 50% of ‘cutting’ caricature artists… Just a guess.

This article refers to the common practice of duplicating facial features, without gaining a likeness and it has caused a storm within the ISCA community.

The practice is common among artists and frowned upon by both caricaturists and public alike, leading to cries of “He/she’s drawing the same nose… looks nothing like me!” often rightly so. I think Dave sums it up pretty well in his argument, the bulk of which I agree with and Tom Richmond goes further in his article here;

https://www.tomrichmond.com/2018/09/14/generic-caricature/

But who are we as professional caricaturists to judge the techniques of other artists? My answer to that is simple – if Joe Public can spot a ‘Cookie Cutter’ and judge them, why shouldn’t I? Why should I defer commenting on a poor likeness or a formulaic rendering, when the paying customer may be complaining or raising an eyebrow? True to say that many of these formulaic artists are very successful and popular among the retail end of our industry, because they cater for the lowest denomination, the least discerning of punters and hope not to be rumbled. All power to them, as there is a place in every market for mass production techniques for the mass consumer, but I personally prefer catering for the more discerning consumer, who looks for a likeness. This way I pleasantly surprise Joe Public, who constantly exclaim “Wow – that actually looks like me, spot on!”

I believe the essence of caricature is to capture a likeness of a sitter, not simply to flatter or placate, that is the job of a portrait artist. The first step towards a likeness is observation, followed by opinion – you should draw what you THINK of the sitter, not just what you see or have been programmed to draw. Drawing from memory will never be as accurate as drawing from life, so open your eyes and look, then apply to your rendering, this way you will achieve a better likeness.

I see no point in merely slagging off ‘Cookie Cutters’ as it is a relative term, which could equally apply to me in some others’ eyes. Instead I try to dispel their myth and undo the harm they have done within our industry, by proving that good caricaturists do exist and that “YES – it is supposed to look like you!”

Other caricature resources:  https://www.caricatures-uk.com – https://www.wedding-caricatures.co.uk – http://www.caricatures.live – https://www.itoons.uk/ 

I was entertaining a client (with 40 guests) last night, when a young chef ask me to draw all 4 chefs and when I refused* he went to his boss (venue landlady), who then went to my client and caused an awkward scene! By insisting I draw the staff, the client was put in a position which was both unprofessional and unfair. The client politely agreed to my drawing them, even though I pointed out it was at her cost and that 4 of her guests would therefore miss out. Later that evening I approached the first chef, who disappeared and was replaced by a burlier chef (presumably more threatening) who squared up and told me to shove my drawings “I won’t waste your time, you don’t waste ours!” was his response. This created an even more awkward scene as I was clearly now the villain of the venue! I thought it wisest not to be fed, even though I was promised a meal.

So the Landlady tries to scam my client out of £50 worth of drawings and because I disagree, I am the villain here? I had to wonder if the band had been asked to stop playing and instead entertain in the kitchen, would they have been chastised and unfed or would the client have simply not allowed it? Is my artform and time worth less than theirs and therefore free to all?? Quite the contrary!!!

*Basic professional etiquette says that if you’re being paid to do a job, you do not expect freebees from other staff unless offered and you do not stop working to enjoy the perks intended for guests!

Why do people, especially staff expect me to give them free artwork, with nothing in return?!

Other caricature resources:  https://www.caricatures-uk.com – https://www.wedding-caricatures.co.uk – http://www.caricatures.live – https://www.itoons.uk/ 

 

production line

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.

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!