|February 1st, 2004
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Your February 1st, 2004
In today's communiqué: turning your caricature hobby into a money-making
business. Tips on making your first dollar - safely :-)
From time to time I'll post a discussion I had with a member so you can all benefit
from our conversation. Bob M. of, actually, I'm not sure what state Bob lives in, but he
asks this great question about how to get started drawing caricatures as a second
source of income. In a nutshell it's about some first steps you can take to see actual
dollars walk through your door drawing caricatures. (Note: I've added a few things since
the original email...Bob, from where do you hail? :-)
Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you.
I signed up back in may, how time fly's. Anyway, I went thru your assignments
and have been practicing but, have a ways to go. I can do pretty good when I look
at someone else's caricature but can't do my own yet. I'm an estimator/salesman
by trade for a roof truss manufacturer. I love photography and to draw.
Very Cool :-)
I want to get good enough to supplement my income with caricatures or hopefully do it
full time. Is there a way to get work on-line for me at this level....
The guy you want to talk to in this department is Tad Barney at the Nose:
He's a broker for artists all over the country - literally the world (and a friend of mine).
Look at how he sells for his artists. Generally he's set up for experienced cariacturists
who're "party ready" - that is, they've been doing this for awhile and they know the ropes.
BUT Tad's always looking to get new artists on board, so he's a person you want to aim
at getting hooked up with when you're ready. He's known for being extremly fair with
his artists and treatng them right. (I'm not getting paid to say that either :-) . Plus he's
a great guy. In the mean time...
Parties for drawing practice
Other low risk ways to getting your foot in the door Bob are doing parties for friends and
family - for free or for donations (I made about 60 bucks my very first time doing this
and got 4 or 5 invitations to do other parties. These invitations were paid gigs. Drawing for
free or for donations takes a great deal of the pressure off the "to be / to draw perfect"
tendency a lot of us so often get trapped in.
The second I started charging 50, 60, 70 bucks an hour for a gig I felt an immediate,
almost suffocating pressure to be "so dang good". Work up to that kind of pressure in
safe baby steps (but DO work up to it because you are worth the price - you must
value what you do before others will value it.)
Finding your comfort zone
Not sure what baby steps are? Just ask yourself what you'd be comfortable trying
"tomorrow". Not the distant, far off, hypothetical tomorrow, but the real, actual in-24-hours
tomorrow. Set out a whole list of options, for example ask yourself:
- would I be comfortable drawing in a guarded cubicle in a public library where people
could look over my shoulder?
- would I be comfortable drawing in a safe corner during my church's Spring Social
where all the money would be donated?
- would I be comfortable drawing at a party where 2/3rds of the people are schnuggered
out of their gourds - and don't much care what you do anyways - they'll laugh at anything
you do? (Or sometimes speak their minds in a very uninhibited way?)
- would I be comfortable drawing at the state fair in a 1500 dollar a day booth with 5
other artists? Would I care that some people might compare me with the other
artists? Or would I see that as an opportunity to learn an immense amount about
how other artists practice their art? Learn their techniques?
- Would I be most comfortable just drawing in the comfort of home, building a web
site filed with all my art work, little by little working up to asking people to go
to the site and see what you can do and see your price list.
(The Internet sure offers a safe way to get started! In fact I think it could be easy to
hide in that safety way too long....there's nothing like drawing live :-)
If a few of these scenarios feel scary, beyond what you'd feel comfortable with
Practice, practice, practice! That will get you there :-) Practice and taking some safe
chances. Old saying amongst hang-glider pilots: "Don't fly higher than you're
willing to fall". Another worn out but applicable old joke - and I forget the particulars -
A young musician on the streets of Manhattan asked Count Basie for directions
to Carnegie Hall. Basie's answer: "Practice, practice, practice".
Caricature artist boot camp
I went through my own self-designed and very intense "boot camp" before doing
my first gig though. Go to the Archives and read this:
Back to drawing on the web
You can always set up your own web site. Go to Google or Yahoo and type in
"caricatures" or "caricatures +party" - do a search and
1) look at how many people are setting up their sites and
2) look at how they sell themselves.
Any experience is good experience though - even if it hurts while you're going through
it. (Hey, you're a salesman, that's an awesome background for an up and coming
Also, is there anyone out there in the caricature world that would be willing to
teach or suggest ways to improve?
A flesh and blood caricaturist to draw with or learn from sure helps but is not a
necessity. Buy books, magazines, clip and collect all the caricatures / portrait / or
caricature-like illustrations. Get them into a folder, a filing cabinet - then review them
often, try to imitate them, reproduce them. You'll learn all sorts of things by trying to
duplicate what someone else has done. Go to other caricature sites - and right
click and save their art in your own computer library. Inundate yourself often. This'll
get you inspired.
And don't just draw caricatures - draw plants, animals, buildings, cars, life drawings
of people. Anything that forces you to stretch and observe.
To work side by side with someone - I recommend the mall or local fairs and just hang
out and watch. Most won't even know you're there. If they have a free moment offer to
get them a Coke, or a soda then ask them questions (about lessons, who inspires
them, how they learned, etc - just like being a salesman :-)
Other inspiring resources
Go to Jan Opdebeeck's site (arguably the best caricature display on the net):
Go to and join the National Caricaturist's Network:
They have a great publication too (Exaggerate features) - 45 bucks a year to be
a member. I also recommend scanning your way through the Archives and
seeing what other ideas may grab you. There's a whole slew of stuff there.
If this link doesn't work, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/
or www.onelist.com and type in as ONE WORD "caricaturetalk" (of course
you can always copy and paste). Follow the directions.
There's an immense amount to be learned once you're on these lists. And here's
an older private caricature list - now public - (if you follow their sign up procedure
of course). Six year's of archives. Discussions between all levels of artists, rank
beginners to the true top of the trade. Here's that link:
Let me know what you think. I spent a day with Chris and watched as he drew
and explained his way of drawing caricatures. He is very good and I came away
with a lot of information that I can use with my drawings.
Thanks for your time Jeff.
Best of luck there Bob, I'd like to use this as part of an e-zine (if you don't mind :-)
You can always send me stuff but I can't guarantee I'll I have time to comment on it
- it's just getting too hectic around here. (though I will always try). If you send something
you want back, make sure you include a self-addressed envelope with the proper postage.
Again, carve out that 30, 40, 50 minutes a day - or as many days that are possible - (just
like you'd do exercise) and you will improve. And, if that's your goal, keep shooting for that
day when the money starts coming in - :-)
Jeffrey O. Kasbohm
Kasbohm & Company Strategic Multimedia
home of http://www.YouCanDraw.com and
1351 Hampshire Ave. So., #127
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
"Once and for all getting you drawing faces and caricatures"