One of our longest serving acts at Warble Entertainment – and easily one of the most talented, Rich The Caricaturist is among the UK’s top wedding and event performers. Putting his pen to use in a different way today, Rich answers our questions and shares some words of wisdom with us about the world of a caricature artist, along with some useful entertainment advice! Take it away Rich.
What is a caricature?
Well… there is the commonly held view that a caricature is a portrait of a person where the artist exaggerates or focuses on unique elements of the subjects facial features, body language, clothing, occupation or personality. The end product is a picture of the person with enlarged or stretched features such as big noses, grinning mouths, flappy ears and wide eyes etc. However, as a live party caricaturist sometimes there might be a different take on the answer to this question. Often times as a popular party caricaturist, I am looking to draw party guests in a more flattering style!
This is rather than if I were drawing a caricature in the grotesque style of for example Gerald Scarfe who might draw a politician like the late Margaret Thatcher with a giant sharp nose, drooping eyes and in a genuinely offensive style. On the other hand, if the guest has a great sense of humour and is crying out to be lampooned then of course you could give them massive ears or a massive nose!
How did you get into drawing caricatures?
I always say a combination of desperation and accident! I was training with Disney artists to create concepts for animation and toy merchandise for major US companies. My projects kept being rejected because I did not have the right connections. Dejected I had almost given up when a family member suggested I take some time out and draw caricatures and cartoons of people at weddings.
When I googled who was doing this in 2011, I was amazed at the people I saw doing it and that they made a good living out of doing it. I called a few top artists in London and one of them said, “Get yourself a good portfolio of drawings of celebrities and show these to some agents”.
I called a few agents and got the same response “we are already full of artists, we are not interested”. I knew that one of them would need an urgent replacement and on September the 11th 2011 my break came when I was asked to draw oil executives on a pleasure boat on the River Thames! Upon realising I needed to show the work from my first success to other agents, I introduced myself to Warble Entertainment and got a call straight back and my first Warble booking within days. Since 2011 I have been booked by Warble for all different types of events, hundreds of times working for the worlds top companies and wedding couples.
What do you look for when trying to capture someone’s likeness in your work?
To capture someone on paper I use a set of “magic formulas” to make split second decisions on which parts of a persons face, body language or personality I am going to throw into my caricature pot. The theory is that by getting the right combination of these formulas to interact with each other, (the small forehead, the long triangle eyes nose and mouth, mixed with large circle chin etc) then… the likeness can appear like magic on paper!
How on earth do you do it so quickly?
With a live caricature you are looking to treat each face like building blocks that have been dropped in front of you.
So you take the persons face parts, relationship, size and personality as the building blocks and then like writing in shorthand you record the person as a caricature on paper using just a couple of black or grey markers in perhaps six magic shapes. At the end you expect to show the end result to the guests crowding round and hear lots of people say “ Wow! That is so simple and scribbled but it looks just like you!” If you get that reaction then you have done your job. The other reason you are cramming that creative process into five minutes or less is because now everybody in the room wants one and you will have to go super fast just to keep up with the party demand! Maybe the people who draw really ugly caricatures have an easier life because they scare the crowds away!
What is it like to work with Warble?
Working with Warble Entertainment is fast paced and fantastic. I can honestly say there is not another agent in the country that has the charisma, the attention to detail, the contacts, or the sales and marketing genius that the owners and staff of Warble have injected into this truly magical company over the recent years. Many entertainment agencies and businesses in general lack the Warble magic. Warble is a colourful, vibrant forward thinking company and since 2011 this is all it’s been for me… one hell of a crazy marathon edge of the seat ride. Long may it continue!
What is the mark of a good caricaturist?
A good caricaturist is firstly a good people person. Secondly, when you draw a good caricature you will need to work very hard to keep anybody in the room who wants one happy. Like exponential growth you will find one happy guest soon tells three and before you know it twenty guests are waiting to be drawn! A good caricaturist will keep everyone entertained whilst they are waiting and relaxed so they know they have not been forgotten.
How would you describe your style of caricature?
In a nutshell, my style of caricature focuses on a persons good side. I try to put my customer on a pedestal and make them feel good about the unique way they look, their life experiences and achievements. My style is influenced by Disney, Japanimation and Marvel Comics to name a few influences. For my luxury colour gifts from photos I try and make the customer a star in their own movie scene, celebrating all they are and putting them up as their own work of art on their home or office wall. I draw many couples at weddings and they often send me photos of their caricature on the living room wall in a frame. My aim is to celebrate that they are in love in the picture and I think a lot of couples see this in my work, and then they fall in love with my caricatures as well!
What sets you apart from other caricaturists?
There are many highly talented and amazing caricaturists out there. However, there is only one Rich the Caricaturist! No seriously, people seem to like that my face looks funny when I’m drawing… I think perhaps I draw what customers actually want and elevate the caricature to a higher art form in some cases. I can’t say for sure what sets me apart or even what makes Warble so individual… whatever it is people seem to want more of it so, we are going to keep serving it up for them!
Why are caricaturists so popular at weddings?
The top answer would be that caricatures are an icebreaker. A bit like spraying a really nice breath of air freshener around as all the guests exit the wedding… like a happiness mist! Many relatives have not spoken to each other for months or even years and some can feel uncomfortable about starting a conversation. Passing the funny caricatures around sparks off conversations and involves children and adults alike.
Can guests take your drawings home?
Often I am asked this question. Yes, the guests are given the drawings instantly in a neat clear plastic sleeve. This is usually linked with the question… do guests have to pay you for the drawings first? The fee you pay me for two, three or four hours is final (unless the guest shoves a fiver in my hand as a tip!). In the main instance I walk round telling people that drawings are free of charge and are compliments of the host or the wedding couple.
What extras can you offer when people book you?
Although my services are offering beautiful works of art which take time and skill to perfect, the list of add on services is pretty simple. To gloss over these: minimum hire time is two hours and maximum time is usually four hours drawing approx twelve to fifteen faces as singles or couples per hour.
Headed Branded Paper: Either printing the name date and venue of the wedding couple is an option, or mainly corporates who like to have their brand name printed perhaps on the bottom right hand corner of the paper so that guests can remember the website or brand message from the product being launched as an example.
Mounted Signing Caricatures: These are incredibly popular! What happens is the birthday client or wedding couple provide simple photos before the event and then I put them in a movie style scene holding each other or bursting out of a birthday cake with their pet dog for example. Then at the party, this shows up mounted and many if not all the guests sign it around the edges for good luck!
Published by Warble Entertainment, where entertainment lives.