The London Caricaturist – New Website Progress

The development of my new website is all very exciting. Here’s a sneak preview of the front page below:

Front page of caricatures.org.uk website

The clean design with plenty of use of white space is going to make it a very pleasurable visitor experience.

There will be a photo-upload feature so that customers can send me the pics they want caricatures drawn from. And payment will be made a lot easier with single click Paypal buttons and enquiry forms.

This is all being done by the wonderful Victor Taylor. The website should be complete and fully launched by March,  but I’m in no hurry as long as it is perfect, which I’m sure it will be!

Slapstick and Tickle

Writing has always been equal a passion as drawing and I have written many short stories, poems, scripts, lyrics and various comical essays.

The advantage of being a cartoonist as well, is that you can combine the two to great effect.

Here’s a short story which was published in More Tonto Short Stories last year.

Slapstick and Tickle

Slapstick and Tickle

We met at The Accident Prone Society Annual Dinner and Dance. Always a messy affair. I’ve been going for three years now and it always seems to consist of a group of awkward people dancing in their dinner. I can never work out why the organisers book the same ballroom, up three flights of stairs. Either they have a strange sense of humour or they get a commission from medical supplies companies. At this event ‘tripping the light fantastic’ had another meaning.

Mary caught my eye immediately. Fortunately, I had some Optrex on me. I asked her to dance. It started off okay but then a chair decided to join us swiftly followed by a curtain and curtain rail. I can’t remember how we ended up in the caretaker’s supply room but Mary looked fetching with a bucket on her head while I found the mop handle down my trousers a little uncomfortable.
•••
“Would you like to come in for coffee?” she asked as the car’s airbags deflated.

I was thrilled. “I’d love to.” This was my first proper date for ages. The last time, the sudden interruption by the sprinkler system had dampened my ardour.

Picking our way through the debris, Mary showed me down to her basement flat. “I really ought to get that loose railing fixed,” she said as we examined our cuts and bruises at the bottom of the steps.

“Never mind,” I said. “I always carry Savlon and Elastoplast.”

“So do I!” she gasped. “We’re so alike!”

I settled down on the settee while Mary scalded herself in the kitchen.

“Could you use any help?” I called through.

“Well, yes. The biscuits are on a shelf out of my reach. Could you get them for me?”

Like a knight to the rescue of a fair damsel, I tripped over the runner and somersaulted through the louvre doors into the kitchen. One of the doors swung back and clouted me on the head. “Oh dear,” said Mary. “Sorry.”

“Not your fault, Mary,” I said manfully. “Now, where are these biscuits?”

“They’re on the top shelf, there, above the sink.”

The kitchen was tiny so I had to proceed with great care, stepping up onto a three-legged stool right behind Mary who was engaged in a titanic struggle with kettle, teapot and boiling water.

I could steady myself with my fingertips on the edge of the shelf while leaning my right knee against the kitchen sink.

“My goodness, what a lovely mosaic,” I said, catching sight of the bit of wall above the sink. “Did you do it yourself?”

“Yes,” said Mary. “But it wasn’t meant to be a mosaic. It was my first attempt at tiling.”

As I stretched up towards the biscuits, the first thing to go was the stool. My left foot swung backwards, burying my left foot in Mary’s groin. She gasped and bent forward, jamming the teapot spout down the back of my belt, pouring its boiling contents down my trousers. With Mary clinging onto both legs, the shelf was going to collapse in any second and I didn’t want to fall on top of her, so I levered my right knee into the sink and managed to direct the shelf full of biscuits, tinned fruit and strawberry jam behind my head, hoping that most of it would miss Mary, as I propelled my body through the tiny window. I only got half way through. Thankfully it was not double glazed and broke quite easily. My legs were stuck in a sink full of washing up and my upper body and arms were dangling out into the tiny space between the neighbouring buildings. The taps found parts of my body I never knew I had. A battered and sticky Mary was draped over my backside with her hand down my trousers trying to extract the teapot. This would have been just the right moment for the vicar to call but fortunately this was real life, not a farce.

•••
“Well, I didn’t really feel like biscuits anyway,” said Mary as she applied the thirty-ninth plaster to my face. We now almost matched eachother with the range of surgical dressings on our faces and bodies.

We had managed to make a safe retreat to the living room and had settled for glasses of cold water instead of tea or coffee.

“Best to be on the safe side,” I said.

“That’s what I always say,” she said. “We’re so alike!”

Mary had a lit a couple of candles and placed them on the coffee table for atmosphere. I reckoned I was in with a chance.

All of a sudden, she pushed me backwards on the sofa and pressed her body against mine. My head was hanging off the end near the coffee table.

“I’ve heard them talk about you down at the Society,” she purred, pushing her face closer to mine. “Apparently you’re really hot stuff.”

“Well, you know,” I blushed. “You might find yourself playing with fire.”

“I think you might be right,” she squealed as I pulled her closer. “Your hair’s burning!”

There’s always something, isn’t there? I thought morosely as I ran to the toilet and doused my flaming head in the bowl. The toilet seat came crashing down and I accidentally flushed the cistern.

“Thank you,” called Mary. “I forgot to flush it the last time I went.”

We decided to call it a night. “I’ll call you,” I told her as I staggered up the steps.

As I walked home, I wondered what the lads back at work would make of it. We were always swapping our stories of romantic conquests. Anything to make life a little less boring at Sizewell B’s Department of Health and Safety.

How to be Gorgeous

The wonderful Stephen Fry has the following advice which I always try to follow:

Always worth watching if you’re ever feeling unsure of yourself!

The Lady with a Cello!

I’ve never drawn a lady with a cello before.

She was delighted!

forsterspartycello500.jpg

The London Cartoon Festival!

With my friend and colleague Terry Christien I am hoping to launch a regular Cartoon Festival in London. Not much to sat about it at the moment except that it is going to be at The British Library in July 2009, depending on whether we get sponsorship.

The delightful Artfinder from Liverpool, Lydia Bates, has thrown in her hand as a sponsorship seeker.

If any of you know of any way we can get backing for this marvellous, please get in touch.

Here’s a photo of the historic meeting between a very tired me, Terry and Lydia Bates!

Terry Lydia and me

On-The-Spot Caricatures – What they SHOULD look like!

 The difference between caricatures drawn from photos and those drawn on-the-spot at parties is often quite stark. A caricaturist can appear to have a split personality because the styles are so far apart.

When you are drawing in the quiet and solitude of your own studio, from a selection of photos, you have all the time in the world to make adjustments and corrections until the caricature is just right.

On-the-spot at parties and events, you become part-caricaturist, part-entertainer and the drawing becomes a side product of a totally different process. The caricatures drawn at parties are hardly ever a caricaturist‘s favourite example of his artwork. They are drawn at speed and a certain amount of premeditated formula helps to do this and get a good resemblance.

Here is a selection of caricatures I did on-the-spot for Make It Cheaper (who, paradoxically, were one of my best-paying clients in December!).

There is a fear amongst caricaturists of seeing one’s on-the-spot drawings together like this because they can sometimes ‘all look the same’ (exposing the ‘formula’). But I think I’ve been lucky with this lot and most of their individual characteristics show through.

caroline.jpg chris.jpg george.jpg hassan.jpg
james.jpg jason.jpg jonathan.jpg karen.jpg
khaled.jpg leekim.jpg louise.jpg mark.jpg
michael.jpg nick.jpg noel.jpg paul.jpg
paul2.jpg paula.jpg pete.jpg shamima.jpg
steve.jpg vanessa.jpg ward.jpg

This was one of those interesting projects where I had to take the caricatures away and then compose them together as an A2 Group. Here they are all in the same group (click to enlarge):

Make It Cheaper Group Caricature

The client was very pleased with the results!

This Depressed Feeling – It’s January Gloom, isn’t it?

During the gloom-laden month of January those of us with seasonally-affected businesses often wonder why they have chosen their path.

To the one person business dependent on all of his wits and imagination to pull in enough money to pay the bills, hordes of commuters streaming across Waterloo Bridge to work in other people’s businesses for which they have no ultimate responsibility suddenly becomes a Utopian fantasy.

Although the ‘job for life’ no longer exists, job-hopping does and the fact that you’re moving sideways or slightly downwards is often preferable to staying where you are. What a luxury! Freedom to choose where you work! Carefully cultivating an impressive CV. Only doing about three hours ‘real work’ per day, the rest of it spent around the watercooler or staring at the computer screen pretending to be working. When I was occasionally called into publishing companies to help with page layout, I was always amazed at how little work I was actually expected to do.

Of course, the downside is that no job is secure these days and, in fact, my Mickey Mouse operation from the front bedroom of a house in Barnet is probably more profitable, percentage-wise, than, say, Virgin (this is a theoretical example only, no facts and figures to back it up).

But, back to that front bedroom. It’s when one is faced with mortgage, credit card and tax bills, that one wonders if there might be a better way. Compounded by the fact that none of your internet activity seems to be creating any enquiries, despite being number one on Google for a few search terms and on the first page for many others and despite putting ads up in various places and writing articles for other related sites and promoting demo videos on Youtube, the January Gloom is bound to descend.

And then you come onto Ecademy (or similar) and you are faced with a barrage of over-optimistic promises and surefire quick fixes preached by business evangelists, many of whom have never had a ‘proper job’ in their lives. You can’t blame them. Most of them are running their own one man shows from their front (or back) bedroom and perhaps even they sometimes experience the January Gloom (at any time in the year). They probably sometimes regret the amount of time they have to put into their motivational speeches and the amount of travelling they have to do in order to sell just one of their ‘self-help books’.

But the feeling persists. Everyone else is busy being more successful than you are. This is the atmosphere that is encouraged and though it may be true, on a seasonal basis at least, the insecurity it engenders can drive a person to press the button that promises untold wealth only to have his bank account and self esteem drained before having his attention drawn to the small print which actually says that the opposite is probably true (you’re going to lose all your money).

And money is at the root of all this (and evil as well). Whatever networkers tell you about their altruistic motives (which, in most case, I believe to be absolutely true), in the end, they’re looking forward to their kitchen re-fit, the Caribbean, the holiday home or the car upgrade. If networking was purely charitable, it wouldn’t exist.

And while a small percentage are truly interested in friendship (it can get lonely in all those small cold bedrooms) the number of contacts I get from strangers vowing that we have so much in common and we should ‘get together’ easily outweighs those good individuals with purer motives.

There’s a sense that if you can get more, you should. There’s little sense of enjoying what you have and being able maintain that level. I’m paying my bills (just). Do I need any more?

Unfortunately, a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach says ‘yes’ (what with university expenses looming). But I don’t think I’m about to become a snake oil salesman to achieve that.

It’s just January Gloom, I keep telling myself. It’s always quiet at this time of the year (is it? Need it be?) I’ve got a cold coming on. And worse of all I’m one year older at the end of the month!

Glad I got that off my chest. No need to read it. Oh you did? Oh well, never mind.

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