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!

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Trousers

Trousers are very interesting. I’m wearing a pair even as I type this.

They are very useful for covering the lower parts of the body for those occasions when it is unsuitable to be seen walking around town in just a string vest.

You can have long trousers which come down to just above the shoe (more of which in a later blog) or you can wear a variety of lengths dependent on the weather or simply your preference. Trousers which have been cut to above the knee are known as ‘shorts’. Shorts vary in length from just below the knee right up to crotch level (essential for those who have incredible legs and the required amount of exhibitionism).

I have about twenty pairs of trousers, including those which accompany suit jackets (more of which in another later blog). Some are more casual than others with the ubiquitous denim jean variety seeing the light of day more often than the others. Some of my trousers have lots of pockets all the way down the side of each leg. These are called ‘Cargo Pants’ and are very difficult to walk in when you actually stow your ‘cargo’ away in them. In reality, you’d be best advised to carry little more than a mobile phone, set of keys and a wallet, otherwise you’ll find it hard to run for a bus without your cargo pants ending up round your ankles. And, of course, you can carry this bare minimum in an ordinary pair of trousers anyway which rather negates the reason for the existence of cargo pants. I suppose they appeal to those who want to appear adventurous and outdoorsy giving the impression that they’ve just descended from the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro and trekked for 14 days across the Sahara (which is quite a long walk, I can tell you – actually I can’t, but I’m wearing cargo pants at the moment and they are influencing me).

Why are trousers a plural word? Do monopeds wear a ‘trouser’? This deeply philosophical question reminds me of the time when Vivian Stanshall and Roger Ruskin Spear of The Bonzo Dog Band went to a Savile Row tailors and asked to see a pair of trousers. They tested one pair for strength by pulling it, one leg each, between them. Eventually, to the horror of the perplexed assistant, the trousers ripped into two separate legs. Right on cue, as organised in advance by these two ace pranksters, a one legged man hopped into the shop and shouted “They’re just the ticket! I’ll buy both!”

According to Wikipedia, Nomadic Eurasian horsemen/women such as the Iranian Scythians, along with Achaemenid Persians were among the first to wear trousers. and that they were introduced to Western Europe by a clown. A CLOWN! It really makes sense: Trousers were introduced into Western European culture at several points in history, but gained their current predominance only in the 16th century, from a Commedia dell’Arte character named Pantalone (Italian word for Trousers)

Trousers. Where would we be without them?

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!

London Caricaturist Blogged by Zakomedia!

My web designer friend Simon Jones was so delighted with a caricature of him and his partner, Jovinda, that he blogged about it on ZakoMEdia Blog.

HeadCases: Brilliant new comedy show on ITV

I hope you’re all enjoying the excellent animated caricature/comedy show Headcases.

It’s the best thing under the heading ‘satire’ I’ve seen in ages. And a worthy successor
to Spitting Image.


Pictured here: Jordan and Peter Andre

You’ve got to split your sides at ‘Mohamed Al Fayed’s World of Conspiracies’ and Prince
Philip as Dick Dastardly out to ‘get Kate Middleton’.

Seems to be based on Mark Reeve’s drawings, but i didn’t recognise any of the voice
talents or production staff, so looks like a brand, spanking new product from a new team.

Makes a refreshing change.

That’s it.

Back to work!

Award Winning Cartoonist wins Again!

It’s only a small thing really, but my genius (which is only a small thing really) has been recognised once again.

This wonderful Ning-based site awards monthly prizes for works of writing, art and cartoons. They decided that this little cartoon of mine was worthy of a £25.00 prize!

When I drew it several years ago, I sent it around the few outlets we cartoonists have in this country (Private Eye, Spectator, New Statesman er, that’s about it…) and received the expected rejections.

Now it’s earned me £25.00!

Delayed Law of Attraction or what?

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