Posts Tagged ‘caricaturing’

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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So finally, after weeks of tinkering and developing and fixing glitches, my newly rebuilt website is ready to take over the web-waves! Though similar in theme to the last site, with it’s pulp fiction feel, torn paper and bulletholes, this new site is far more structured and hopefully user friendly, with an eye to future browsers and a simple booking procedure.

Please take a look and feel free to leave me some feedback, all (positive)  suggestions welcome ! CARICATURES-UK.COM

spot on caricatures

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 😉

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!

I was recently filmed while drawing the MD at a corporate fun day in Wales, managed him in just 2:48 which is pretty damn fast.  It was interesting to watch myself and enlightened me as to exactly how I do it, I appear to draw from the shoulder with an ever sweeping arm which never keeps still.  Take a look…

I am regularly contacted by people who want to become Caricaturists and essentially take my job or at least a piece of my market from me. Just had to post my latest requests for professional assistance:

“Hi George. can you tell me what I need to start my digital on the spot caricature business. I’ve been doing on the spot for years and now I’m getting asked to do digital.”

P. Wilcox

“I am wondering if you can help me. I need some advice and I don’t know who to talk too about it to see what to do. I am currently a part time postman and recently I had an interview for a job as a caricature artist. I had to draw someone in my interview and the person said I did well and has offered me several places with how I got on. But she said I needed training to speed up but i’d be good at it. The problem I have is, is she wants me to try it part time and do it as well as my other job but my   work won’t let me do it. There was a full time vacancy too i’m just wondering is it worth me taking the plunge and do it full time and quit my job. I’m sorry to bother you I know you’re probably extremely busy and this email is out of the blue. I just wondered if you would have any advice on what I should do.”

D. Bucknor

I know certain caricaturists out there are keen to offer advice and charge for promotional books or videos on ‘How To…’ etc, but as a veteran I have seen the market become flooded and work become more sparse over the years, thanks to an influx of the kind hi-lighted above. Helping your potential competition is simply BAD BUSINESS practice!

Before emailing me for a quick leg-up into my job market, just stop and think what your response would be to such a request;  “Dear sir, please help me take a slice of your living, as it seems easy and I need your help”!?