My Ideal Job!

Over the years I have had several jobs, apart from cartooning.

My first ever job was during the school holidays working in the Bally shoe shop in Hampstead as a callow 16 year old. Quite what the well-heeled celebs of NW3 thought of being served by a lack-lustre, spotty, long haired schoolboy, I suppose I’ll never know. As I was into the prog-rock band, Yes, at the time I was quite excited when guitarist Steve Howe came in. Unfortunately he was too busy to give me guitar lessons. Even then I was cartooning, and the manageress and staff were quite excited by the full colour cartoon strip depicting them all in various hilarious predicaments that I drew on an A1 sheet of board. As far as I know that early example of my work still languishes in some back garage or cupboard in Heath Street.

Building on my extensive retail experience I decided to aim for the top and my next school holiday job was with Harrods. I remember the selection interview vividly – the girl was simply parroting all the questions, terms and conditions with absolutely no expression in her voice. I must have been the thirtieth person she had seen that morning alone. The group of students working at Harrods that year were an excitingly eclectic bunch. There was the upper crust master of one upmanship, immaculately dressed at all times and a dead ringer for Leslie Phillips from the Carry On films.

We had to have lessons in special classrooms on how to use the old credit card swipe machines. A very tall girl named Alison joined me in the ‘Leisure Man’ department where we set about having a real hoot serving customers and wrestling with the arcane credit card sanctioning system. The manager of the department was a sleek lounge lizard who flirted with everything in a skirt.

One of the most memorable things about Harrods were the underground passageways where all the stock was kept. This was like a world that could only be described by Terry Pratchett or Iain Banks, so other-worldly it was. Every long, dark cobwebby corridor was named after the nearest road above. I had to make numerous trips to get stock and got frighteningly lost sometimes. Even weirder, and the sort of thing you only find in fiction or films, there was a permanent resident caretaker of this labyrinthine dungeon and, like Quasimodo, he was deformed, having obviously suffered some sort of chemical accident as suggested by his grey melting face with only one eye. He would always scurry away when someone approached. A weird and yet wonderful time.

Apart from these periods, I held down a Saturday job in a televison rental shop, spent five weeks in a photographic studio and did a couple of weeks in a dog kennels.

But none of these, of course, was my ideal job.

My ideal job, apart from cartooning, would simply to be imparting brilliant ideas, from my lofty hammock in the sun, to hungry media types, for which I would be paid lifelong royalties. A passive income for a little inspiration.

So if anyone knows of an outlet for this most realistic of ambitions, just let me know!


My WordPress Saviour

I’ve just had a lot of invaluable help from Jeff Houdyschell of WordPress Max whose mission in life is to make WordPress blogging easier for the rest of us by leaping in with expert rescue plans!

He provided the custom template and helped with the set up of Ha! Humorous Arts which is my site devoted to the, er, humorous arts. Well worth a look.

And this is how I rewarded him!

The Group Caricature continued! Drawing faces – lots of faces!

Once all the photos have been correctly labelled and collated, the first thing I want from a client is agreement that the caricatures are accurate likenesses of each person in the group caricature.

Working on A4 sheets folded in half, I draw rough pencilled versions of each face in the A5 areas.

Rough Caricature faces

These are then scanned in (two per page makes for much less scanning) and saved at low resolution for emailing back to the client for approval.

I have found that one in every ten rough caricatures needs a small amendment (which isn’t a bad percentage if I say so myself!). This is usually because of the photos not really looking like the person. I can only draw caricatures from the photos supplied.

When you have a group caricature of up to 60 people, you can begin to understand why it is so labour intensive and the price charged must bear this in mind. There are people out there who cannot understand the difference between a drawing of one person and that of a large group. And they will shop around until they find the cheapest, but not necessarily best quality, solution to their problem. However, I shall leave my customer-haranguing diatribe to a later date! I have plenty of material!

So, once the rough faces have been sent off and all has been approved, what’s the next stage?

Watch this space – it’s composition time!

How to draw a complex group caricature

I had to delay the completion of this particular blog until after the finished framed caricature was delivered to the client, which I did last Tuesday – he was, of course, delighted. Now, I am happy to reveal the stage by stage method of creating a complex group caricature:

The client contacts me and eventually sends me what seems to be hundreds of photos of all the people involved in the caricature.

I like to streamline the process, so rather than print out each photo individually, I use Photoshop to crop them all down to the margins of the face and lay them all out together on sheets of A4. This produces ‘contact sheets’ of all the faces I am going to have to draw.

Group Caricature Pics

I make sure I don’t forget who’s who by typesetting names in as I go.

Then the client sends me a list of each person with details of what they should be doing in the caricature. They often send me their own thumbnail sketch which is always a very handy starting point for any artist.

Caricature List and Client Sketch

Next: to start drawing all those faces!

Bob Dylan sings about!


Lots of NEWS coming soon!

As is often the case, I am taken away for days at a time by either work or travel and then it takes ages updating the blog!

When things settle down I will be able to entertain and delight you with NEWS of the Louviers Cartoon Festival, from which I have just returned, in France. I will also be able to announce MY NEW WEBSITE, launched today, and I will be able to continue the short series on how to draw a group caricature.

All that and more will appear within this blog. Do keep coming back!

Rude Cartoons!

The following cartoons illustrate a FILTHY comic poem I used to perform (with the cartoons on a flipchart) around the Clubs in London.

Can you work out the story by looking at the cartoons?

Anyone who’s curious to see the original MIND-NUMBINGLY DEPRAVED and disgusting poem, just PM me and I’ll point you in the right direction!

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