Posts Tagged ‘caricaturists’

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/ 

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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!

 

 

To all cheap caricaturists:

While discussing fees with colleagues recently we found ourselves divided into two camps; those who knew their value as artists and entertainers and those who didn’t care and were grateful not to be jobless! Unfortunately the latter camp are driving our prices down as they battle to get paid less and less!!  One northern caricaturist publicly boasted (to paraphrase) “I charge low fees because I’d rather be working every night than charge silly fees and be sat at home!”  Great business plan brainiac! So what is the net result of your pricing structure? You work more frequently because you win jobs from other artists by undercutting them, you do not create more work by under-pricing, no-one ever said “Wow I found a cheap caricaturist (he’s shit but cheap) so lets put on an extra party every night just to hire him!” No! There are a finite number of gigs available in any area on any date, no matter what you charge. You simply now have to work three times as hard to earn what you should be earning in one night, while other full time artists go hungry, unable to drop their prices lower than you. Well done – great ethic.

Know your value and stop undervaluing your colleagues by association and if you are grateful not to be stacking shelves, then maybe its because that’s closer to your true vocation, but I trained all my life to do the creative job at which I excel and will not be comparing my talent to that of a shelf stacker or fairground busker anytime soon!

Do some basic research, find out what your competitors are charging and value your skill by comparison, then endeavour to raise your prices and standards, instead of lowering theirs to meet yours. If you still find yourself at the lower end of the price scale, then maybe its down to the quality of your work and you should consider retraining?….

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.

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

Recently opened up a debate regarding new competitors in the Carix market and it became clear that a few artists just have no clue what is potentially controlling their business’ fortunes. Some were unaware of competitors within their own geographical patch and one was surprised to come across a Carix who’s been caricaturing for at least two decades on their doorstep!

I thought it was  a good time to remind all fellow Carix to check their SWOT analysis, which should be done on an annual basis anyhow. SWOT is an analysis of your Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats, which should give you an idea where you sit in your own marketplace. If you do not carry out this simple task, then you may as well be fishing in the dark, because your business will be beyond your control!  Visit this simple page which gives you a few good business models to look into, including basic advice on Competitors and Pricing…

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/compare-business-model-competitive-strategy-76349.html

Strengths and weaknesses are internal qualities, determined by who you are and how you have chosen to operate your company. These include your USP and your chosen Mode of Operation.

Opportunities and threats relate to the business climate in which your company operates. These include competition and business trends.

If you are unaware of your target market, your selling points, your competitors, your potential markets and potential threats, then frankly I’m amazed you’re still in business! Get on Google and give it a look-see, it could be the making of your business.

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