I have been earning a living as an on-the-spot caricaturist for over 20 years and throughout that time the vast majority of bookings I have had have been for weddings.
It is a basic truth that any caricaturist will find some situations more conducive to creating excellent fast caricatures than others. It is also a fact that brides, grooms and wedding organizers often want a caricaturist to fit into the greater scheme of things in way that requires a degree of flexibility. Before either side makes or takes a booking it is a good idea to have a frank discussion about this stuff!
What constitutes ideal conditions for drawing on the spot is different for each caricaturist. Broadly speaking, caricaturists can be divided into two camps; walkabout, and stationary.
Walkabout is often really what the client wants. Stylish, fun and interactive; the artist can approach the guests, get chatting and get the ball rolling straight away. In a crowded room He/she will have far more presence than than someone sitting at an easel.
Ideal conditions for walkabout are those that make it easy to strike a rapport with the subjects. Lighting and sound levels are less important than you might think but having something else going on which competes for the subjects’ attention can make it difficult to hold even for a couple of minutes! If, like the artist, the guests are mostly standing then this is ideal and if he has their undivided attention even better!
Sometimes however, there is a good reason to go for a stationary artist. For example, if the venue is very large then it might be easier for guests to know where to find the caricaturist although this more often applies to big events like shows and fairs than to weddings. It is worth noting that a walkabout caricaturist can usually perform perfectly well seated although the reverse is not necessarily the case – If you want walkabout then make sure you hire walkabout!
Having a caricaturist go round the tables DURING the Wedding Breakfast is a very popular idea and, when it works well, can be great fun for the guests. Caricaturists generally agree, however, that table hopping is often one of the more problematic situations to work in. Obviously it has to be walkabout and one of the first problems we often face is that there is not enough room to move between the tables (especially while the waiters are serving) . Added to this, people are generally not very “up for it” while they are actually eating – particularly the main course. There is inevitably a certain separation between the artist and the guests when they are seated together and he is standing and there is often no choice but to stand on the opposite side of the table to get a view of each subject (steadfastly facing downwards at their plates!). If the table is wide then the caricaturist will be too far from the sitter to keep up a conversation or hold their attention.
Timing is everything with table hopping – let the caricaturist use his own judgement as to when to approach each table and avoid having him work through the speeches. When deployed effectively, your table hopping caricaturist will provide killer entertainment during the meal but be prepared for him to produce fewer drawings in a given time than he might otherwise.
At the end of the day, getting the most out of your caricaturist isn’t just about getting the maximum number of drawings. It is also about entertainment and ambiance and getting something that will compliment the overall event. Make sure the caricaturist understands what you want and take on board any advice he offers – the Key to success is communication!