Sunday 23 October 2016

Tips For Doing Caricature Gigs

I have recently added Caricaturing to my repertoire as an artist, I have had two gigs so far and I'd like to share with you what I have learnt from doing them.

First of all I am not doing the really exaggerated, highly rendered kind of caricature drawing like Jason Seiler for example. My ‘caricatures’ are black ink line drawings of the people who sit in front of me, drawn as a representational portrait or portraying them as popular person or character of their choosing.  

I did not plan to start caricaturing, I did it on a whim, I decided to run a caricature stall at the school-where-I-work-at’s Summer Fair, just for fun to see if I could actually do it and to raise some money in the process.  As it was the first time I have ever done anything like this I was very nervous at whether I would get recognisable likenesses, be fast enough and be good enough.  I think what gave me the confidence to try is the legacy of taking part in Inktober where you aim to make an ink drawing every day in the month of October, as a result I haven’t stopped near-daily drawing since taking part for the first time three years ago.  

So at the school’s Summer Fair I set up a stall which consisted of an easel displaying some sample caricatures that I had made earlier and a banner saying ‘caricatures’ and the price of a drawing.  I had an easel to draw at, a chair for me and a chair for the sitter.  I made sure I had plenty of paper, pens and at the last minute I grabbed a pencil with a rubber on.  For requests of whom to be drawn as I used an iPad to Google for images. 

School Fair Caricature Setup

When the first guests arrived I asked if anyone wanted a drawing and immediately someone took me up on the offer.  After that there was a crowd around me from every angle and an unorganised queue formed.  I drew in pencil lines first then inked over them with Posca markers.  I drew nine portraits in an hour and a half.  The thin pen I favoured ran out towards the end and I had to switch to my thicker one.  The rubber on my pencil wore down and for the last couple of drawings I asked the sitter to rub the pencil out when they got home.  

Birtley Library Caricature Setup
I learnt some great lessons from doing this which helped me in my second gig at my first ever Library event as part of Geek Con 3 at Birtley Library.  I kept a similar physical setup but also displayed some prints for sale (See below for the Bellatrix Lestrange portrait I made especially to sell at the event).  I felt more confident this time and decided to ditch the pencil and drew straight away in pen, this time my favourite Pentel Pocket Brush pen, this, of course, helped me create more time to make more drawings.  To avoid a chaotic queue and any disappointment at not getting a drawing, I had a time slot sheet which I managed to keep to.  So my second caricature gig was even more successful than the first and I am making arrangements for my third gig next month.  See some of the caricatures below:

Bellatrix Lestrange

A photo posted by Claire O'Brien (@claireobrienart) on

A photo posted by Claire O'Brien (@claireobrienart) on

A photo posted by Claire O'Brien (@claireobrienart) on

Things to work on for next time are;

  • better packaging for the customer to take their drawing away in without it getting crumpled
  • have more prints for sale
  • improve at drawing hands, they are such an important part of portraits

Just as caricaturing was a new experience for me, I am about to try something else new!  For my third Inktober I have decided to draw a mini comic (of Kate Bush’s Under Ice song).  As well as drawing a comic for the first time (well apart from this page below my son and I made) I will be doing it as live-ish online as a Facebook event. So please click ‘Going’ if you like to watch my progress, I’ll also have giveaways and art drops to announce, thank you.