Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Retiring folks

Studio business has been slow lately, but I've busy with a lot of live caricature gigs and would not have had much time to do large projects anyway.  Things are getting back to normal in September, however. I've been getting some order inquiries for some larger jobs, so I'm looking forward to hitting the drawing board (and digital tablet) here in the studio again soon.

Here are my three most recent commissions. All are for retirees, one in Oregon, and the other two in Ohio. The Oregonian is for a retiree from a company that comes to me for gift caricatures on a regular basis throughout the year. His hobbies are woodworking, gardening, grandkids and... glassblowing! I think that's a first for me...

(click to enlarge)

This second one was for an 80th birthday. This one was for a returning customer for whom I had done a drawing of this man's wife about 8-10 years ago. This one was done in watercolor, which is becoming more and more rare with each passing year. Seems most of my work is digital, so I enjoyed working in a tangible media once again!  I just wish that my scanner could truly capture the subtlety of watercolors better because these scans never look as good as the real thing. (for instance, the blues in the sky always get washed out)

(click to enlarge)

This one was for someone leaving Proctor & Gamble (that's their headquarters in the lower left).  He had designed the sleeping bunny on the Pampers packaging and the ZzzQuil bottles. The client designed this concept for me, so I just had to supply the drawing skills. 

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's August already?!

It's the dog days of summer, but summer is fading... so sad. I love the summer!  It's my favorite time of year because I love the weather and the fun you can have at the beach or the lake or at a ballpark, festival or fair. But May-August is also my busiest (most lucaative) time of the year! However with school starting only two weeks from now, it's time to get the last hurrahs out of the season.

July was filled with games at Huntington Park and a week long vacation to Myrtle Beach. August will bring 16 more games at the Park and several "welcome week" gigs at local colleges. This year I'll be doing back-to-school gigs at Central Ohio Technical College/OSU-Newark, Capital Univ, Kenyon College and Otterbein College. I was also asked to do a job at Ohio State main campus, but I had a schedule conflict and will have my back up artist do that one. In addition, I'm also doing gigs for Kroger which are open to the public. I will be at the following locations:
8/16: Weirton, West Virginia 5-7 pm
8/17:  Polaris 12-2 pm
8/18:  Stoneridge Plaza, Gahanna 12-2 pm
More may be added to the schedule, so stay tuned...

Last weekend I did a wedding reception and next weekend I will be doing another. I'm also doing a couple of company picnics as well. In all, there are currently 31 gigs scheduled for a month only 31 days long!  Ah, it's good to be busy during the best time of year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Independence Day weekend gigs!

Independence Day weekend has become a busy one for me over the last few years.  Since I've had my booth at Huntington Park, I've drawn annually at the Boom At The Park event on July 3rd. In the first year (2009) the sales were great, but each year since has not lived up to that initial year's totals.... until this year!  My partner John and I almost tied the sales mark set that first year, falling short by just 12 dollars. Compared to last year, sales were up 63%!  Overall I worked six hours and, as a bonus, enjoyed watching Red White and Boom from a good location and got to hear one of my favorite bands, McGuffey Lane, play some golden oldies from my youth.

On the fourth it was rainy, so one of my gigs was cancelled and the other (booth at the Dublin fireworks/concert) was dampened but went okay. If things had gone as planned, however, I would have worked seven hours that day.  I did get to hear Chicago play golden oldies from my youth...

On the fifth I had a wedding reception which was really fun. Everyone was very cool and very complimentary of my work.  At most events people say nice things, but this group was especially appreciative, and that always makes me enjoy entertaining even more. They had set up little clotheslines to display the caricatures, so as the event went on, I had a growing art gallery on the wall to my right. After three hours I had drawn about every single person at the party. There was no live band playing songs from my youth.

Here are some of those drawings:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Recent Artwork: June 2013

My most recent caricature pieces.... both are digital paintings.

For a high school grad (I guess his nickname is "Kloppy"...)

For a retiree from Dow Research and Development.

The cool thing about these pieces is that the second was a referral from the first... and the first was a referral from another!  Word of mouth is not dead!  I'm always appreciative of clients who recommend me and pass my name on to others.

I also did a couple of nice gigs at the end of June. One was for the candle makers for Bath and Body Works (fun group!), and the other was for ARC Industries-- an employer of the mentally handicapped. The latter is a gig I've done for the last four years, and it always brings me to smile several times as I draw some very special people.  Some are severely handicapped, some are only mildly affected. All are very appreciative and polite. Here is a picture of a couple that were drawn together. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

2013 Arts Fest... Back by popular demand!

On June 6-9th I drew at my 14th Columbus Arts Festival which was also my 20 year anniversary of my first Arts Fest... and it was good to be back!  Last year I was not "selected" as one of the 3 caricaturists at the event (yes, only three caricaturists for 400,000 people!) but this year I received a lot of great feedback from the new festival director. His leadership showed that he has a good grasp on what makes the Arts Fest great, and I hope to continue working with him for future Arts Fests.  Because of his involvement, I was able to be set up in a high traffic area that provided me with the visibility needed to have nearly non-stop sales over the three day weekend.

In a period of 29 hours I drew over 275 people, with over 135 of those drawn on Saturday. While that's not a record for me, it is in the top 5. (fifth, actually... haha)  I probably could have done a few more had I spent a little less time on each drawing, but I always want to do my best on each and give each customer the max for his/her money. On nearly every drawing, I referenced the Arts Fest in some way, which I believe helps promote the event which I value so much. I also cartoon the people's names on the drawings as well which I know some artists find redundant (it is their face, why do you need their name?), but I feel it adds a bit of a cartoony personal touch to each in addition to the caricature.

It is exhausting, however. My wrist/shoulder were pretty sore and my hand is still recovering (my thumb-tip is still numb... I don't know why that is), and most of that pain comes from the writing part more than the drawing of the faces, but for the cash I earn and the seeds I plant (business cards, caricatures with my website/phone on them) and contacts I make (I've already booked one gig from being there), it is WORTH the pain!

I don't do much retail festival type work.  I have the booth at Huntington Park and do an annual wrestling tournament, and last year did the Greek Festival, but that's about it.  The Arts Fest is by far the most lucrative weekend of the year for me, and it benefits me in so many ways. I also love it because I get to see and meet some great artists and see some friends who drop by and say "hi". This year I didn't have a ton of friends who greeted me, but I did see a few that I hadn't seen in awhile.  That's always nice.

One of those I got to see is a couple that has had a caricature from me at the ballpark every year since year one. They haven't been to the park yet this year, but when they saw me at the Festival, they had to stop by and get drawn.  I did a pretty funny drawing of them this time (I have to keep coming up with new original stuff!), and now that I know their faces, it was pretty easy to capture their likenesses.  If you're reading this by chance Sam and Suze, I hope to draw you again at the ballpark!  At least I know they will stop by and say hi to me when they do come out to a game this year.  Good folks.

I was so busy that I didn't have time to take many pictures, but here are a few photos:

 My set up on the corner of Bicentennial Park. 
Great location with plenty of traffic and access/visibility from all sides.

She had the most beautiful long nose... hard to see in the picture, 
but I loved drawing it. Here's a close up:

Another fun couple. Decent drawing.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kids vs. Caricaturist

Being a caricaturist, I encounter lots of personalities.  Most people love what I do, a few don't.  Usually the ones who don't get it are the women who still want to be young and thin but no longer are, or the teenage girls who want to be the same person the older women want to be, but for different reasons! But kids are usually not a problem for me.  However, for some reason, I've had a recent run of "kids say the darnedest things" moments!

Last night I drew a caricature of three kids, the youngest, Jack, is six. He looked at the picture after I was done and said "I don't want to look like that!" I felt he was being hard on my drawing skills, so I said, "Sorry, I thought that was how you looked." He said "No, I wanted to look like THIS!" and he screwed up his face to show me a goofy expression. ....guess I didn't draw funny enough for his taste!  Even if Jack wasn't 100% satisfied, I'm happy to say that his mother was. His two sisters also thought I did a great job as well.

I had another complaint over the weekend as well. This time from an eight year old boy. I was at a wedding reception, and my set up was next to the "kids table". I eventually drew all eight of the kids seated there during the course of the evening,  All of them were teenagers, and they all had a good laugh at their own and cousins' caricatures. The only one who didn't "get it" was the youngest one at the table. This kid was just your regular 8 year old blond haired blue-eyed kid with nothing really outstanding to caricature. No bucked teeth or cowlick... just your average kid and the resulting drawing was pretty "normal" by most standards, but for some reason he reacted to it by saying "it's horrible!" and then wouldn't show it to anyone.  No one could understand why he didn't like it, but for some reason he didn't. But it was okay, in the end the hostess showered me with compliments and tipped me well, and most importantly, the bride and groom loved the drawing I did of them. Even the older women and teenage girls loved me. Go figure...

The most common question that kids ask me is "are YOU an ARTIST?" They say it with a bit of awe as if they were asking a really tall person if he is a basketball player or a guy with a hose if he is a fireman. I usually say "yes, isn't that COOL?", but sometimes I mess with them and say "no, I'm a plumber" just to entertain myself with the confused expression I get. But then I confess that yes, I am an artist. They always seem to react with an "I knew it!" expression on their faces, as if the seven-foot guy in the high-tops just HAD to be a basketball player, and the guy with the easel and the fancy pens just HAS to be a real life artist!

The other night at the ballpark a kid came up to me and asked me for my autograph. He even had a Sharpie pen on him. Never mind that I have 50 pens to his one... but he offered me the Sharpie and asked for my autograph. However, he didn't have anything to sign!  I said "where do you want my autograph? On your shirt?" He offered me his chest, but I grabbed one of my own pens and signed the back of my business card and gave that to him instead. Maybe he will have his parents hire me for a birthday party someday... we'll see.  I don't know if he was just goofing around or not, but he seemed serious. You never know these days... kids after a certain age seem to have no qualms about tweaking adults.

My last "kid story" is from a picnic I did for a Head Start program in one of the more poor parts of town. I only mention that it's a poor part of town because it seems that in such areas, the moms really try hard to make their children stand out and be unique, so they start their kids off in life with a unique name. This one woman had five kids and each kid had a name more strange than the last. I wish I had taken photos of all the caricatures I did for that family, but this one stood out the most. Now I usually ask the spelling of just about every name, even the easy ones... but this one really threw me! Poor kid... Meet Malachi. Well, that's how you pronounce his name, but check the "Scrabble Rack Special" spelling:

As usual, comments welcome!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Thank you USY!

   I've had a regular client that has ordered a caricature from me annually for over a decade. Sadly she is moving, and I don't know if the youth group she directed will continue to place orders to honor their seniors. Maybe... but no guarantees. Either way, it's been a good run!  Thanks Shani!  You will be missed!

Here she is holding the final senior class of her USY group (which they call BuckUSY, short for Buckeye USY).

This year's drawing shows the three grads on the red carpet, stars in their own right, and draped with the names of the universities they will be attending in the fall.  Medium is watercolor, on 11"x14" bristol board.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I drew the king!

I struggle at times to come up with something interesting to say about artwork that I do, but this time I have an actual back-story to a client worth writing about!  Earlier this year I received a call to do a caricatures at a Cub Scout troop meeting to honor boys who were "crossing over" to become Boy Scouts. The party was being held at this family's home. (they later had all the individual caricatures of the troop made into a group caricature, which is HERE)

After the event, I got to talking to the  den leader/homeowner/host. He told me that he had wished he had been in scouts in the town where he grew up-- Granville, Ohio. I said "what? I'm from Granville!  When did you graduate?" He had graduated the year before me. Turned out that he knew many of the same people I knew and that we probably passed each other in the halls many times, but I still had no recollection of his name. I went home and looked him up in the yearbook. Well, it turns out he was the prom king at my junior prom!  haha I guess I wasn't paying attention. He'd changed a bit-- no longer had the bushy curly locks of hair, and was probably taller than I remember. But yep, small world...

Last week his wife hired me to do a digital caricature for a birthday card/sign-in board for his 50th birthday (reggae) party, and here it is:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Creativity is WORK!

     "Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes." 
-- Kevin Ashton, "Creative People Say No", posted on, 3/18/2013

People think artists are simply "born that way". That they are "blessed with creativity" or "god-given talent" or "have always been an artist". Um... no. No one is born with a pencil in their hand, just like they aren't born with a wrench or a hammer or a calculator in their hands.

I will concede that being an artist requires a different mindset, however. Artistic individuals do indeed see the world differently, but not because they have different eyes, different brains, are left handed or whatever... it's a different perception based on a curiosity and a desire to break beyond a certain set of norms. They force themselves to do this. It doesn't come naturally. A creative person simply wants to do something different than what has been done-- to be original! They are not content with a checklist approach. They have a hunger for seeing the unseen, knowing the unknown.

But this takes time. It's work!  People who think that creativity just  flows in one's veins or comes from some divine cloud will place expectations on artists to "just do it". "Here's my assignment, now give me something creative! Do it! Go! Gimme!!"  What's worse is these same people will undervalue the artist's work and expect it to be cheap or discounted or even free. "After all, you just do this in your spare time, right? " 

I saw a Facebook post of a bumper sticker that says "Artwork IS work!" I agree wholeheartedly. And that work isn't just the craftsmanship of moving the pencil or brush or mouse around to make a picture. There's mental work involved as well.

Last night I talked with someone who owns a food truck. He said that the logo he has on the truck is not what he wanted, but that the vinyl graphics company pretty much left all the work up to him. He had to choose the font. He had to choose the elements. The "designer" basically just arranged them to fit onto the truck and that was their "design". My friend also complained that every designer he's ever dealt with was that way-- they expected HIM to be the creative one. 

I explained to him that this is not how it should be.  A good designer should work to find out what the client's expectations are (what fonts they like, for instance) but also bring his/her own experience and ability to the table to mix into the stew. It's a cooperative effort. Both parties need to work together-- the client can't say "I don't know, just come up with something creative and I'll tell you if I like it or not" nor can the artist say "here's what will work for you, now pay up". By the same token, the client can't say "design it like this" nor can the artist expect the client to do all the work. 

I explained to my friend that when I work with a client, I try to get as much info from them as possible and then take that info to come up with really quick impressions-- things that don't take much time, but that narrow down the concept from generalities to more specifics. Once some common ground in the visions of the client and the artist is found, the artist can go into more detail and experiment

I'll usually come up with several designs that I will reject without showing the client before presenting him with three or four developed ideas.  I'll try to have elements in each that are completely different, not just present variations of the same idea. The client can then mix and match these ideas to come up with a final rough that we can agree on.  Once that is approved, I will then do the final cleaned-up design

Sound like work?  Again, to quote Mr. Ashton again: "Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work."  Here's an example of how I worked to come up with a logo for a Florida restaurant. The client wanted a fun dog mascot holding a hot dog. From there, I did some quick pencil sketches, nothing too elaborate, but I also did several that weren't sent to the client as well:

 The client chose #8. He liked the idea of making him the cook. 
I then did some minor variations on that drawing:

From there I did some color and background variations:

Then came type ideas:

The final artwork:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May commissions (so far)

Some of the recent stuff... been getting some black and white orders lately, but I have more color digital drawings on order that I'll be doing starting today.

I just completed a family caricature for a Mother's Day gift.

I had another project that I worked on which I posted, but was notified by the corporation that any interaction we have is confidential and that I had to immediately remove the pictures and reference to their company from this blog. I'm not sure why some drawings of their company officers would be a secret or somehow compromise their company's brand.  The drawings didn't even have their logo or product in it! They just showed some of their officers doing carnival related activities to promote their upcoming company picnic. I don't get what the big deal is, but so be it. But I am just impressed that someone actually looked at my blog!! (I think they were one of two... I, myself, being the other)

Oh well, back to work...

Monday, April 29, 2013

A few gigs, a new drawing... now the real fun begins!

This year's Tournament of Champions (wrestling tournament, Apr 19-20) was the most productive in many years. Maybe people are getting used to the recession?  I don't know. But I was busy for most of the 8 hours I was there and many people were paying the color upgrade fee.  In the past few years the retail side of my business has well below previous years' amounts, so maybe this is a good sign!

This gives me hope for... the Arts Fest!  After sitting out last year, I was given word that I will be back to draw at the Columbus Arts Fest 2013 on June 7-9th. I also received very positive feedback from the director of the Arts Fest on my samples as well.  This director has had experience with caricature and portrait artists and seemed to be quite interested in having quality street artists at the festival.

I also drew at a bar mitzvah, a senior center and a high school prom over the last week.  But after having today off, I will be drawing every day for two weeks solid starting tomorrow with a two day trade show, several Clippers home games, two parties, a picnic and a prom and and afterprom rounding out the schedule. But I want to encourage anyone in the Columbus area to come out to a special charity gig I'll be doing on May 10th at Olentangy Liberty High School-- Relay for Life. It's a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and I will be drawing from 6:30 to 9:30 that Friday evening.

Last week I did another digital caricature commission for a lovely family in Midland, Michigan.  The joke in the family is that Grandpa tells the grandkids that the "Whippy Dip is closed", so this joke was incorporated into the drawing.
(click to enlarge)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April showers bring Mo' money!

Well, opening day for the Clippers was rained out... then the next night it was cold and there was hardly anyone there... then the next day was even colder so I didn't even bother going. But then we had two days of good weather before the game got rained out again!  That's the retail game for ya... but it was good to get the booth set up and ready for what I hope to be a great season.

While the team is out of town for a bit I've been trying to catch up on studio work. I get to be a homebody for awhile, which is nice, however, that will be short lived. This weekend is Wrestling Day (the Ohio Tournament of Champions) where I will work Friday night and almost all day Saturday doing retail for a youth wrestling tournament. Then Saturday night I am drawing at a bar mitzvah. That's 16 hours of work in the space of   28 hours. Ouch. The Clippers come back for a couple of days and then I have another week without nightly games to do studio work before I start a stretch where I'm working almost every day for two weeks straight and 15 out of 17 days!  That stretch culminates in a tripleheader day where I work 10-1 pm, 7:00-10:30 and 11:30-3:00 am! Whew! April 26-May 11th will be a real workout for my poor lil' ol' drawing hand!

Here are some of the drawings I've done in the last couple of weeks. More to come soon as I have orders in for groups of 6, 8 and 6 + a dog! (that's 21 if you're keeping score!)

For a bar mitzvah sign-in board 
(packaged with gig this weekend)

Watercolor for the United Way

 Digital drawing for website

 Digital painting for retiree.

Digital painting for retiree. 
(same company as above)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Here Come the Clippers!

The 2013 home opener for the Clippers is this coming Thursday... I can't wait!   I will be posting new samples reflecting the new players currently on the team. Below is one of the new signees- Daisuke Matsuzaka. (aka Dice-K) 

The first month of the season is always a bit rough with the weather cooling off quickly after sunset or sometimes not getting above 50 degrees, but it's always great to be at Huntington Park even if I'm just watching the game from the left field corner with my space heater between my legs!

In it's fifth year of operation, I'll be making some changes at the booth. Because I end up drawing the same baseball bodies repeatedly, I'll be offering some preprinted bodies for the first time. This should hopefully lead to faster turnover and more volume. I also hope to have better signage and lighting to increase visibility.

Since I'm now established at the park, I have to look at ways to make keep the booth fresh and different for those who come regularly.  I'm also always surprised to find people who have been to games and haven't seen my booth!  Just about everyone who enters the stadium has to walk by my location (unless they have cheap seats in the bleachers or high class seats in the executive suites) but yet somehow there are people I've talked to who said they didn't see me. I can't be too conspicuous of course but I can't just fade into the scenery and expect to make money!

If you are in Central Ohio, I hope you'll come by and say "hi" to me at the ballpark! Even if I'm drawing someone, I pay attention to everything around me (including the game) so don't worry about "interrupting" anything.  Just say hi and I will be happy to see you.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Websites, New Art!

After a really slow first few weeks of the year, things picked up nicely in late February and into March. It was hard to have almost no work for a few weeks, but I didn't sit idly by...  I spent the slow time reworking my main caricatures from photos website (, creating a cartoon logo website and adding a new website for portraits. Please click these links and let me know what you think!

I also did some cleaning of my hard drive and office. I still have lots of clutter on both fronts, but I did delete/throw out stuff that has been piling up for years since I rarely have time to do deep cleaning beyond picking up my loose papers or putting my pencils away. I wish I had time to do more, but I'd rather draw and paint!

Now the dust has cleared and I've had several orders come in and several gigs, so I'm back to playing catch-up, including with this blog! Here are some of the most recent pieces I've completed for clients:

Color digital painting for retiree who painted his own Model A Ford. 

Digital color painting for a co-worker who was leaving the company and had several interests.

Watercolor painting for Ohio State Medical Association's out-going president. 

 As usual, questions and comments are more than welcome!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gigs now and in the future

I had a busy weekend, but doing gigs is always fun!  On Friday I drew for an after-school "Fun Day" and afterwards for a 10 year-old's birthday party. In both instances most of the faces I drew were kids, but in that "tween" age group between 10 and 14. In my opinion that's the hardest age group (well other than infants!) because one slip of the pen and they look too old or too young. That's also an age when they are very critical and dramatic so it can be rough at times.  I made it though okay though because they were all great kids, and I didn't draw too badly.

On Saturday I drew for a charity function at a local high school to raise money for Children's Hospital patients. All of the people drawn were high school students, and all were in a great mood. It went very well, and it was for a good cause.  The organizer gave me some high praise afterwards as well which also made me feel great.

This weekend I will be doing another charity function at Capital University-- a Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society.  I did this event last year and it was very heartwarming to see college students work so hard to raise money to fight cancer. One of the traditions they have is to light luminaries dedicated to loved ones with cancer.  It's a touching ceremony to see all the glowing candles lit and the students walking solemnly through the gauntlet representing the victims.

Other upcoming gigs include visiting a college campus for Spirit Week, an Easter Egg Hunt event for Jefferson Country Club, and my annual trek to draw for BGSU's Sibs and Kids weekend. April will be an exhausting month with taxes due, the start of baseball games once again at Huntington Park and a string of  late night afterproms! But "bring 'em on" I say!  Nothing gets one out of the winter blahs like drawing live caricatures almost daily!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Live and in color... Digital Caricatures!

One of the options I now offer to my clients is live digital caricatures.  These are really fun to do!  Using a laptop and my wacom tablet/pen, I can draw digitally in a live setting. The final result can be emailed and or made into a facebook photo or used elsewhere on the web. I also purchased a portable color printer that I use to print the drawings on the spot. I can also plug the laptop into a monitor or a flat screen TV so the drawing process can be watched from a distance.  Here's what my digital set up looks like:

drawing on laptop without monitor

Using TV monitor provided by client

And here are some of the digital caricatures I've done:

Cub Scout Caricatures

My most recent commissioned piece... done for a Cub Scout pack that was about to transition to Boy Scouts. I had drawn everyone live at a party, then took copies of the drawings home to scan and create this digital piece, placing all the heads I'd drawn live onto bodies done in my studio. I sent this digital piece by email to the den leader and he made printed copies to give to each boy. They were surprised and thrilled!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A repost from my Facebook fan page...

Top Ten Reasons I'm Better Than A Photo Booth at Parties:
10. Claustrophobics aren't afraid of ME!
9. My pictures can be seen without bi-focals or a magnifying glass.
8. Ever see kids totally fascinated while gathered around a photo booth to watch someone getting their picture? Didn't think so....
7. My pictures get framed and hung on the wall. Theirs might get a week on the fridge before falling under it and spending the next 10 years with the dust bunnies!
6. The 60's are over... cramming people into a tiny booth is sooo old-fashioned! When I draw groups, no one gets hurt!
5. Everyone already HAS a camera on them these days. How many have an artist in their pocket or purse?
4. I can fix your hair and/or enhance your body. 'Nuf said!
3. I never flash at anyone. Promise!!!
2. Can a box with a camera in it tell you jokes or laugh at yours?
....and the number one reason to hire me and leave the photo booth at the arcade:

Yup, photo booths start at a whopping $500-$750 per party *minimum* and go UP from there! With my new price list, I now start at $100/hour and still discount even more for charity or for longer events! Seriously, is this even a contest?


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Back to bloggin'! (New websites for 2013!)

I stopped posting in my blog about a year and a half ago because I thought all I needed was my Facebook Fan Page to do my updating and posting of pictures. I was wrong. I need something more!

I plan to start blogging again because I realize that here I can write more, express myself a bit more and do more than post a few pictures. I'll still use the Facebook page to post things, but here I can write more than I can do there. I really don't have much time to write a lot, but I do feel the need to talk about my business and other things in life in a more expanded format.  I don't know if people will even read this, but who knows... maybe someone will. Someday. Hope so.

So here goes...

I recently went through one of the toughest times in my career. Since about 2006, the US economy has been in a free fall, and one of the first expenditures to go for most companies and families is entertainment and art. Since that time, many of the long time customers I have had, especially corporate entities, stopped having company picnics and Christmas parties. I've also seen the retail sales at the few retail gigs I do per year drop off just as dramatically. 

Gift caricature from this Christmas-- ordered by my sister-in-law
In years past, the month of December was one of my biggest of the year. I normally would have several gigs per week and often two or three per day on the weekends. Christmas gift orders started coming in mid-November and were only able to be taken until about the first week of December because I would not have enough time to do all the orders in time if I had continued to take them.  Agents called me regularly and booked me for large parties with multiple artists. Those golden days are now gone.

Last December I hit the low point for Christmas gigs and gift orders and I only grossed 40% of what I did in Nov-Dec compared to the same months in 2006, and that thanks to having some non-Holiday related work. On top of that, I had a very VERY slow January in which I made less than what I would have made working 40/hr per week at minimum wage.  Times are tough.  Really tough!  Almost didn't make the mortgage payment for Feb 1st tough!!

So I had to take a good look at what I needed to do to stay in business. In 2008 I opened a retail booth at Huntington Park to work during Columbus Clipper games. That has helped supplement my income, but it still hasn't made up for all of the income lost to the Great Recession. I've tried some advertising, a Facebook page and other ways to promote myself, but I'm disappointed with the results of those efforts. The phone just doesn't ring like it once did.

So I took a look at my competitors. I found that they were charging less than me. Now this is no surprise because of the top three competitors, all three have "day jobs" other than being caricaturists. They can afford to charge less, and I'm sure they use it as a selling point against hiring me. In the last couple of years, I've seen internet clients contact me for a quote and then go with one of the competitors regardless of quality, reputation, etc. just to save a couple of twenties. So in spite of working hard for over 20 years to get to thie prices I had, I've adjusted my prices to match theirs. No problem... I'll bite that bullet and hope to make it up on volume... after all, none of them can do daytime gigs.

But I haven't stopped there. I've updated the look of my website and have spruced it up with new samples and better cell/tablet compatibility.  I have also divided my three businesses into three separate websites.  Mail order caricatures and portraits will now be the primary focus of, my live caricatures will now be exclusively handled through  and cartoon logos can be ordered through  I have also developed an alternate portrait site at

But is the problem just prices and marketing?  I promote myself with business cards, stamping my drawings with my website/phone, having a web presence and a yellow page listing. I'm admittedly not great at tooting my own horn, but I do toot it!  However, it seems to me that the problem isn't that people aren't finding me, it's that people aren't even looking! If people don't hire any entertainers, even the best and most popular won't be doing well. I find that my competitors aren't doing well, either.  The top end clients aren't having parties and the rest are having boring parties!

So now I have my mission.  It's now my goal not to just promote myself, but to extol the virtues of live caricature entertainment. So many people say to me "oh, what a unique idea... I've never seen a caricature artist at a ___________ before!"  It's true, we are a rare breed. There are only very few nationwide can do this for a living and even fewer that are busy. And even if I worked twice a weekend every week of the year, that would still be only 100 or so gigs out of the 10,000's of the proms, grad parties, charity and PTA fundraisers, picnics, reunions, birthdays, sweet sixteen parties, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, etc that occur every year!  No matter what, caricatures will be unique and fun for any party unless 100 other artists crawl out of the amusement parks to start doing gigs.

So if you've read all the way to this point, please do me a favor... tell someone about me. Suggest having me draw at your company party, school function or friend's birthday party. Let them know that they can get a custom caricature done from photos to give to a retiree or a portrait drawn from photos to give as a wedding present, even if you don't live in Ohio where I am. I promise you won't regret it!

In the meantime, I'm going to start to more aggressively market the idea that you can't have a pARTy without ART!!  I hope you will join me in this effort as well.