Friday, November 11, 2011

Caricature Tutorials

Here's some links to some of the better tutorials on caricature out there. Feel free to comment and add your own:

From Tom Richmond's blog. This is the MOTHER of all caricature drawing tutorial sites. Browse around, you'll find it MOST helpful. These are just a few posts that I've found helpful:

Joe Bluhm has some excellent video tutorials. His voiceover is interesting and informative

Illustrator Court Jones' PDF caricature tutorial:

There are a LOT of you tube tutorials out there, and not all are all that great. These are  some of the better ones:

Tutorials you can buy by experts

Jason Seiler (most excellent, I own my own copy and I'm a pro!)

Jim VanDerKyl


Friday, November 4, 2011

How to Budget Your Cash for Winter

Its tough working in our business if only for the fact that most of us don't work year-round at our concessions. And those of us who do don't usually make a ton of cash in the winter. Plus most of us work on a cash-only basis, so there's a real temptation to spend spend spend all summer while the dough is rolling in, but then come November most of us are screwed. Some of us even have to GET A REAL JOB (audible gasp).

Here's a system I learned from a credit counselor on how to avoid those end-of-October blues. Even though it's November, start NOW. If you've saved up for the winter, this is a great way to see if you've saved enough, and will motivate you to market yourself more over the Winter (You DO market yourself, right?)


It's really pretty simple. If all you use is cash (and if you don't you might consider cuttting up that plasic ASAP!) then you basically need to make a budget, put money in the envelopes, and (this is key) NOT TOUCH IT unless you need it. Here's how:

You'll need:

A notebook and pen
A calculator
All your bills
A calendar
A box of envelopes


1. Make three columns in your notebook. The first column should be the biggest.

In The first column, list every single bill that you have (name will do it). You'll also need to list every expense that you have, both business and personal. For a quick and easy template that you can print out for FREE, check out this site:

They are missing a few categories, such as birthdays and holidays (like Christmas).
Also they don't have any categories for a sole proprietorship. If you're not a sole proprietor, consider making an entire budget just for your business based on the same model below. If you are a sole proprietor, add categories such as Marketing (business cards, flyers, postcards, adsense) and Materials (easel, markers, colors, paper, etc.).

2. In the next column, list each monthly payment. If you have a bill that is due, say, every six weeks, figure out exactly how much you'll have to pay per month. For now, just use the lowest monthly payment on each bill. Leave the last column blank for now as well. 

3. For expenses such as gifts, look at a yearly calendar. On a new sheet of paper, write down each and every person you will get a gift for for their birthday, anniversary or holiday. Estimate how much you want to spend on each person and write it next to the person. Add these all together, then divide by 12 to help you figure out how much you need to save each month on gifts. Add this to your main budget page.  You can do the exact same thing with your business expenses. Estimate how much paper, pens and artstix you go through in a typical week, and figure out the cost. Same for Marketing.

4. Now divide each figure by FOUR to get your WEEKLY BUDGET (I find this easier than monthly for what we do.) Place this figure in the last column for each budget item.

5. Take out your envelopes and label one for each and every expense. Write down the monthly and weekly payment on each envelope.

5. Place the envelopes in order of importance (rent and car payments go on top, for example).

6.  Place money in the most important envelopes as you earn cash. Fill up the lesser envelopes afterwards. This is much easier in the spring summer and fall than in the winter, which is why it's IMPERATIVE that you don't touch the envelopes!

7. If you're rolling in the dough in July, for instance, consider filling up envelopes for November, December, January and February AHEAD of time.  THIS is what will get you through the winter.

8. If your expenses exceed your income... you're screwed.

Well, OK, not really. But you may want to a) cut back and/or b) get a part time job  c) market yourself better. Check out one of my posts on how to market yourself  at

Now if I could just get my husband to stop opening the envelopes...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to do your very First Gig

So you got your first gig lined up. It's all confirmed. All you've gotta do is...


If you don't know, read on.

First, congratulations. You've embarked on a journey to a new career in life. Gigs are a great way to get paid to do something you love - making fun of people. But seriously, gigs are how I make my bread and butter. Market yourself enough and you can do this full time and actually make a living doing something you love.

So what do you do?

First, make sure you have a written contract. You're going to have to make one up yourself. you need their contact information including phone number the DAY OF THE GIG. You'll need their name and address, AND the address of the gig.

Second, Double check your times and location a few days before the event. I've done thousands of gigs and it's rare but sometimes they give you the wrong information. The hostess usually appreciated a call as well.

Third, make sure you have all of your materials. Put them in your car ahead of time. A Windsor  portable easel is great, you can get one for as cheap as $45.00 at Blick, but more often they run in the $75.00 range. If you don't have the dough for an easel, you soon will. Just bring a backboard (about $10.00 for the particle board kind) and rest it on a table. You'll need a backboard if you're using an easel too. Bring plenty of paper and markers, as well as either bags or rubber bands. I prefer rubber bands at gigs. I like to use a fanny pack to keep them in, to hold my markers, and to collect tips. You might want to invest in cheap portable clip-on lights, they're $5.99 at Loews. Also I always bring duct tape. You never know when a floor will be too slippery for your easel, your easel will break, etc. I used to bring chairs too but now I ask the host to supply them.And DEFINITELY bring a bunch of business cards. When I book my own gigs, I hand them out to EVERYONE (including kids; I tell them to give it to their mom.) A little shameless self-promotion never hurt anyone :)

Fourth, the day of your gig, make sure you have all your gig clothes laid out and ready to go. What you choose to wear is up to you, unless you're working for an agent who tells you what to wear. I NEVER recommend jeans. And I always try to look professional. Often I'll wear a dress. If you're female, try not to show too much cleavage.or leg. The men might like it but the hostess probably won't (in my experience nearly 90% of my gigs are booked by women).

Fifth: try to relax. I used to get panic attacks every time I did a gig for the first FIVE YEARS. THIS IS NORMAL. Just breathe deep and know the you can do it! It's not that hard. Really. I promise.

Sixth: Leave extra early. Much better to be early than late. Meet the host/hostess. Scope out your site. Make sure there's enough light and that a) you won't get trampled by traffic and b) you're not totally out of sight so that guests can find you.

Seventh: Set up your kit. Hang a sign if you like that tells your hours. This helps cut down people trying to get "one last drawing" at the end (see my tips for not having this happen).

Eighth: Draw! If you've drawn in a retail environment before, then great. You know how important speed is. If not, try your best to do one sketch every five minutes or less. I like to introduce myself to each person who sits in the chair, give them a little instruction, then ask what they do or where they're from. You'll get the hang of talking while you draw. It's actually a fun part of the job. Hand each person their rubber-banded art along with a business card. You'll be guaranteed to get more business!

Ninth: HAVE FUN!

Tenth: Get paid. This is the BEST part. And what'll keep you doing gigs again and again and again!

Best of luck - and let me know how it went!

101 Ways to avoid Procrastination

I'll post more on this later.

heh heh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Resource books for getting better at Caricature

For pros:
Available only at Tom richmonds site, this is possibly the best caricature
drawing book out there. I recommend it for EVERYONE.

Expressions by Mark Simon. Anybook in this series is very helpful.
A Caricaturist's Handbook: How to Draw Caricatures and Master Exaggeration
Jim van der Keyl, Tracie L Cannon

Rejects by Joe Bluhm

The Complete Book of Caricature
Bob Staake

Live & Learn: Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within
Steven Aimone

Artist's Way
Julia Cameron, Mark Bryan
An excellent 12 week course in a book designed to help unblock the blocked
artist. I highly recommend it.

For anyone wanting to learn HOW TO Caricature:

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition
Betty Edwards - This is gra=eat to help teach you how to draw, period.

Drawing the Human Head (Practical Art Books)
Burne Hogarth

Face Off: How to Draw Amazing Caricatures & Comic Portraits
Harry Hamernik

Drawing Caricatures: How to Create Successful Caricatures in a Range of Styles
Martin Pope

How To Draw Caricatures
Lenn Redman
A classic

Cartooning, Caricature and Animation Made Easy (Dover Art Instruction)
Chuck Thorndike

12 ways to get customers to sit when it's slow

1. Display a piece of your work on your easel. Or at least have a sign that says
CARICATURES - only takes three to five minutes! Your easel should NEVER be blank. That's missing out on free advertising! Nine times out of ten people look at what's on your easel before they even check out your prices, so why not capitalize on it?

2. Unobtrusively point to your easel or your pricing sign while standing. I like to use a marker to do this so people know I'm an artist ( Maybe it's cuz I'm a girl but often people are surprised that I draw. Which tends to give me a bit of a complex.)

3. STAND. Look like you're ready to draw. Don't be farting around on your iPhone! Kamans policy (the big name in caricatures at amusement parks for those of you who don't know) is that all artists must stand unless drawing. If they do it, it's for a good reason. Standing makes you look ready to roll and customers will more readily approach you if you're standing.

4. Sketch. Either yourself, from your phone, or one of your drawing partners. Looking busy with drawing cam often get a line started.

5. Offer to draw people for free and if they like it they can buy it, but let
them know there's no obligation to buy.

6. Make eye contact and smile at passers-by

7. If you are a sole proprietor, fiddle around with your pricing. Consider lowering your prices if
you hear "It's too expensive" a lot. Or offer a discount for families. Lots of business for cheap = lots of  business. No business for more expensive = no business. Consider adding a quickie profile
drawing for $5.00. I can literally make a thousand dollars in a day at my stand in Pennsylvania with "quicksketch" prices. Just make sure you're not doing erlaborate works of art for that price. It's called "quicksketch" for a reason, folks.

8. Make sure your signage is clear and concise. A picture of a sample above the price and what it's called ("black and white head and shoulders" is less confusing to the public than "B & W" or "black and white face") works very well. I fiddled with this formula for YEARS before I got it down pat.

9. Be silly. Sing. Do a little dance. Making people laugh is half the sale.

10. ASK FOR THE SALE. But don't do it too soon, which tends to frighten people
away. Let them look at your prices first. Then let them know you can help them if
they need it. They'll usually ask a question or two, then look at each other.
THAT'S the time to ask "you guys wanna get a drawing?"

11. Use cleverness in your signage. I write "squirmy kids are specialty" on my
signs, which gets a laugh and also get folks thinking.

12. Educate your customers. Most people want to know the price and how long it
takes. If you answer these two questions BEFORE they're asked, you break down their
resistance that much faster.

The key to most of this is to FIDDLE. Fiddle around with signage, your patter, your sales style. Watch how good salesmen do it, even when you're at the mall. You're sure to pick up a few tips

What's in a (business) Name?

Followers of the ancient Kabballah believe that a Childs' name determines his destiny. I think
this is true of small businesses as well.

So what's your business name? If you don't have one yet, or even if you do, read the article below, you may come up with some new ideas.

You could go the easy way and go with "Caricatures by Joe Shmoe." Most caricaturists I know do this. This works especially well for individual artists since you don't have to trademark your
name. It also simplifies things at tax time for sole proprietors. Pretty straightforward too, which has the advantage of helping to "brand" yourself. You don't have to be a sole proprietor to use this method; Kaman's Art Shoppes is an example of a larger business that chose to go this route.

Then there are those of us who want to be a bit more creative. Or funny. Krandel Newton's "Butt
Sketches" comes to mind. This is a terrific way to draw attention to your business.

My sole proprietorship is named "Making Faces," I have a small caricature logo of myself sticking out my tongue I always place underneath it on business cards. Always got me plenty of attention, which translated into a lot of busine$$.

There are plenty of creative names out there, such as Robert Bauer's "Goofy Faces," a bit of a larger company,  and Ron Kantrowitzes "Mugshotz." This method has the advantages of standing out from amongst the crowd, although you'll have to do a little legwork in order to secure your business name.

First go to to trademark your new name. You'll need to do a search to make sure no one else has your name in our field, but you can do that right on the site. Next you'll need to go to your local business licencing department in your area and get an assumed name certificate. And make sure you get the domain name for your website before someone else snatches it up! They're only usually about $12.00 and you can do a free search as well as purchase your domain name at

Whichever you decide - straightforward or creative, its imperative that your
business name makes it self-evident that you're a caricaturist. Or a comic book artist. Or whatever your chosen field is.

Also keep in mind that your name will probably show up alphabetically on agents
lists and on lists on the Internet, so you want a name that will show up alphabetically, for example, A+  caricatures.

The adding of -icatures or -atures to a noun (for example, ipadatures TM) is a trend that seems to be on the downswing. The drawback of this type of name is that it's NOT recognizable to the general public as a niche in the caricature market. When people see this type of hybrid name, they often wind up scratching their heads and saying "huh?" Not very good for advertising when you have to explain your name to each and every one of your customers.

Several of the newer businesses out there such as Sean Garners "Zombie
Caricatures TM", and "Facetime Caricatures TM", are opting not to go in that

Finally, remember that you'll be using this name a LOT. It's like naming a
child. You'd better be able to love hearing it, saying it and typing it ad

Name your "child" well, and watch it grow into a full-grown adult with pride!