Archive for the ‘wedding entertainment’ Category

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!!!

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wedding artistAfter 3 months of tinkering on WordPress, I am proud to announce the launch of my new wedding specific website – The Wedding Artist.  I decided that there are now too many other caricaturists selling their skills to Brides, with loud, gawdy, cheesy cartoon sites and so I went for the Gold Standard angle. I am after all the only UK caricaturist and entertainer who is regularly published in glossy magazines, which should mean something surely? I hope the Brides can see the quality from my website and make the right choice on their big day.

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!

“HOW TO MAKE A LIVING….”

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…

Just checking through the competition online today. At the top end of the scale, there are more and more high-end studio artists, with amazing talent, producing acrylic and digital masterpieces, that make me want to down my pens and give up trying!  At the bottom end of the scale however, there seem to be a proliferation of cheap, low quality scribblers, some just scanning photos and applying a paint ‘effect’ (app), but all lowering the level of public perception! Some of the artwork makes me ashamed to be within the same industry, with gawdy colouring, bulging cheeks and inflated heads awkwardly propped onto broken bodies.  I suppose there’s a market for all, if you want cheap tat, you won’t be disappointed I guess…

Sometimes this feels like a rat-race; today is one of those days!!

 

Spot on caricatures

THIS BLOG IS A PROFESSIONAL’S EYE VIEW OF THE WORLD OF CARICATURING.  IF YOU’RE SIMPLY LOOKING TO HIRE A CARICATURIST, PLEASE CLICK THE LINK ABOVE.

Robbie Savage caricature

cheap caricaturists

Calling all potential clients; Should you wish to book an entertainer (such as a caricaturist), but decide not to complete the booking or cancel an existing booking, could I please ask one thing? Have the decency to let them know! Simply call, email or write to the artist and show some courtesy. Remember, for most this is a full time career and a missed email means a missed wage.

I have spent many hours (this year) dealing with, corresponding with and negotiating with clients who book a date, then simply ignore my contract, my emails or phone calls. At least 7 clients this year chose to treat me like an amateur, by not following my simple cancellation procedure.

I estimate that I have lost at least £2000 wages in 2010 alone, from holding a date, only to be let down without notice.

An email is painless and we won’t bite… unless you ignore us and lose us money! Thanks for your time.

01/05/11 – Wedding Cancelled!

Just heard from my sunday Bride (cancelled 10 days prior without reason) following my third attempt to contact her regarding payment:

“Dear George, you will receive your money shortly. I do not wish to discuss the situation, but the wedding was actually cancelled  due to very tragic circumstances, and your pressure is not in any way helping me at present. Other contractors are not being so aggressive due to the circumstances….”

Well I’m afraid thats what happens when you cancel without notice, explanation or payment, then ignore my calls, letters and emails… my patience begins to run low as my mortgage payment looms. Perhaps if I had received an explanation or a cheque, then I could offer my sympathy, until then I shall continue to chase my contractual payment.

04/06/11 – Dog Died!

Just had an email cancellation of a wedding just 2 weeks away; Bride claims her dog’s illness and death has left her broke! Awwwww… thats so sad. Tell you what, I’ll just eat dust for a week and tell my Mortgage provider that I can’t pay this month cos YOUR DOG DIED!

When will people realise they have a responsibility to the people they employ. What if her boss told her not bother coming to work, as his dog had died and he was broke?!

28/01/12 – “Hired someone else”!

Client hired me two weeks ago for his wedding, last minute booking, limited time to exchange paperwork etc. I drafted a contract and waited for its return. I didn’t hear back after initial booking emails, realised on wedding day (tonight) and contacted the venue to double check. After 3 calls to the Wedding Planner, she finally tells me “The client doesn’t want you, they’ve hired someone else”! With just two hours until my performance time and a 100 mile drive ahead, I think maybe some notice would’ve been nice. Now I’m at home, in my suit, out of pocket by £420!!  How exactly shall I pay my mortgage this month?? Thanks Adam Westall, common courtesy clearly was never taught in your home.

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?!