Charlie's Cartoons   bespoke cartoons - modern gifts with a humorous twist  

June 1, 2012

The virtual studio – Leaving gifts and caricatures business

Filed under: caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 9:53 am

It seems nowadays that the old concept of a business being a thing run by suited people in a clean, spartanly arranged square block is truly dead and buried. I say “seems”, because actually it’s not as simple as all that.

Sure, the internet revolution has meant that my leaving gifts and caricatures business, for instance, can be run remotely, from anywhere at all. All this business needs is for people to produce caricatures, send the caricatures to a central hub, where quality can be normalised and dispatch controlled. That’s the only material aspect of this business. Other than that, you can caricature yourself wherever you want in the world. All I need for the day-to-day running of this caricatures business is a laptop. Today, I stayed at home rather than venture over town to my caricatures studio. I dealt with all the cartoonists’ requests, customer emails, sent copies of the caricatures, invoiced, dealt with new commissions of leaving gifts… and now I’m sitting at my local café writing my blog, before calling my digital cartoonists (based in outer London) and my web developer (Clapham) about new developments to our site.

Not only is the internet practical in making the new virtual-studio business world more open, more relaxed, and more ambitious all at once, but in fact, this caricature yourself business of mine couldn’t have existed before the internet’s invention. The way customers find us through Google, the way draft copies are sent to customers for every step of the way to be shared… every link in the production chain is intrinsically dependent of the internet.

But then I said that the days of office work “seems” dead, because it did seem that way when I started out making these leaving gifts. Then after too many days of home and cafes, something felt not quite right. It’s simply not how humans naturally compete, hunt, explore… there has to be somewhere to go, rub shoulders with other hungry people, and strive onwards. Since moving to an office last October, the caricature yourself business has doubled its productivity. It may have been all in the head – but if it works, it works.

April 4, 2012

The Olympic egg has been stolen!

Filed under: caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 9:25 am

The Olympic egg has been stolen! Shock horror… How weird it was… I was on holiday, taking a week’s break with the GF, and I get an email entitled “Shock horror” from my mum. She’s just arrived in London for the first time this year, and was looking forward to having her first peek at my work. And when she turns up in Trafalgar Square, there’s an empty, ripped plinth where the egg once stood!

Then she and my dad went to see the other egg in Fortnum and Masons, and couldn’t find that either. Bu the time they got home, they had concocted a bunch of conspiracy theories… however it turns out that the F&M one is a “wandering egg”, ie it changes places every few days… so that one was safe – they’d just missed it.

However, the Olympic egg had actually been nicked.

Then I got the email through from the egg hunt organisers, with the bad news. Police investigating, and media campaign going! By the end of that day we has articles in the Standard, the Independent and ITV news… the hope was that, like for the first couple of eggs, the thieves may get exposed by the intense media coverage and hand the eggs back.

But no such luck so far…

It really makes you wonder. Why would someone do this? I honestly don’t know why anyone would bother stealing this egg. It only has value as part of this charity auction – people pay good money for these eggs because of the prestige associated with the cause. If I was a big name, then it might make sense. But this egg has no “black market” value. And I can’t imagine that anyone would commit such a crude act because the loved the art and wanted it for themselves. So the only motives I can think of are sheer anarchic stupidity and/or attention seeking.

Charlies Cartoons:
Our caricatures from photos are the answer for everything from weddings and anniversaries to birthdays and leaving dos.


March 20, 2012

Caricature Artist, Gifts for Dads and The Big Hunt

Filed under: caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 5:23 pm

This Big Egg hunt ( is really working wonderful publicity for our caricature artist company, Charlie’s Cartoons! Every dad we have our helpers (basically, my Dad and my girlfriend J) flyering passers by on Trafalgar Square and in Fortnum and Masons, hoping that one or two of them here are looking for gifts for dads or gifts for husbands. Of course, that’ll be 0.0000001% of the people walking by at any given time… But the idea here is more to plant the seed in people’s minds. They may not be looking for a caricature artist when the day eventually comes to buy gifts for dads or gifts for husbands. But if they’ve seen our flyer, and our awesome eggs (there’s me being modest), then the idea might occur.

Caricature Artist

Caricature Artist


I mean the thing is, as a caricature artist, how are you going to get the word out there? How are you going to convince the world that out of all the thousands of potential candidates, you’re the caricature artist they should choose. Well obviously the internet is the starting point. Having a good site that people will want to go to, a portfolio that shows interesting examples, etc. But something has to call out to people, especially in the beginning of a business’ life. And sometimes you don’t have the budget to put billboards on the tube: “Gifts for dads, gifts for husbands, get them here!” No. So you have to be clever as a caricature artist, and get big marketing scoops for free. And the big egg hunt was just such an opportunity.

Two years ago I was advised to get my cartoons into a paper, so I campaigned and called and pestered until City AM let me illustrate first a features section, and then their front cover. I was their in-house caricature artist… for a month or so! The trouble was, not many people were ready to make the leap between “funny political cartoon” and gifts for dads. Gifts for husbands aren’t the first thing that spring to mind when you see a cartoon of Alastair Darling being King Kong on top of the Gherkin (see portfolio).

February 18, 2012

Charicatures or Caricatures ?

Filed under: Articles,caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 7:30 am

Why are people always spelling it charicatures? Beats me. But I guess I’ll have to roll with it. The tough thing is that, in creating a caricatures from photos business, I’ve opened the door to a world where I’m selling something that most people have trouble pronouncing, let alone spelling! So when someone gets in touch to order charicatures, do I get back to them saying yes, we can do caricatures from photos that you supply, or do I use their spelling to make them feel more comfortable? Hmm… I wouldn’t want to offend them J

Well I guess it’s not actually that important how you say it or how you spell it. At the end of the day, this is a photo to caricatures service that produces brilliant gifts for all sorts of occasions, whether you spell it charicatures or not. A more interesting question might be: How do you get from a photo to caricatures in the first place? Isn’t it difficult to paint a caricatures from photos of a person, without that person actually sitting for you? Now there’s an interesting question!

I guess the answer is that for caricatures from photos to be funny and accurate, you need the photos themselves to be really good. Not only as in high-resolution, clear and free of sunglasses or other obstructive things (you wouldn’t believe how many people ask me to apply their photo to caricatures when the photo shows a person wearing shades – I mean come on J) but true to the person. For caricatures from photos to be true to the subject, those photos need to be true to the subject too. So if they’re always laughing, provide a laughing photo. If they’re always chatting, get one of them mid-sentence.  It’s our job to do caricatures from photos that are really spot on. You supply them, we’ll do the rest.

January 27, 2012

Digital Superhero Caricature vs Hand Painted Caricature pt2

Filed under: Articles,caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 9:29 am

So last month, the director of a company with which I used to share an office came up to me and asked if we did custom vector caricatures. What? Us? The hand-made caricature company par excellence? Of course not – we make professional caricatures in the traditional way, I thought. None of this new-fangled stuff. Then I thought again. If sporting art websites create a superhero caricature on demand, then surely I can be just as flexible? “We’ll give it a go!” I said, and so we set about doing our first ever batch of custom vector caricatures.

The aim was to depict a company team as simple vector characters. And the technique: To start with a straight draft, as usual. Then, to simplify the draft and scan it. And finally, we would draw custom vector caricatures on top of the draft scan, on Illustrator. And Bob’s your uncle!

Of course, I’m pretty good on Photoshop but when it comes to Illustrator I know nothing. Thankfully one of our cartoonists, Vincent Bouriot, is King of custom vector caricatures. Vector Vince, as he’s now known in the company. He’s the one guy I know who can produce professional caricatures in a digital format that are ultra simple, but completely uncanny. Like he can distill the likeness of a person into a few vector lines, in the same way that websites create a superhero caricature from nothing but a name, a photo and a chosen colour.

Professional caricatures in a vector format are actually pretty rare. On one hand you have the masters who usually work in a hand-made medium, and on the other you have not people but programs: digital processing systems that turn photos into custom vector caricatures. But these can be a fine art too. Julian Opie, for instance, will distil a look into a couple of black dots, showing that custom vector caricatures are as valid an art form as any other.

January 17, 2012

The Big Egg Hunt – Olympic caricature (Egg)

Filed under: caricatures — Charlie Anson @ 9:00 am

Wow! The caricature egg has been an experience. Just finished it. A three foot high egg-shaped caricature of five female and five male British athletes competing in the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The whole thing is taking place in the context of the “Big Egg Hunt”, a massive charity event that will culminate in the largest public art exhibition London has ever seen…  And this is the only cartoon caricature they have!

Painting it, with all these characters flying over and under the 3D shape, I was reminded that several websites create a superhero caricature to order, and that they create caricature material quite similar to this: Characters flying and jumping all over the place… But few really take the time to do a cartoon caricature in such detail. And that’s something I’m particularly proud of.

So I thought on: Today, could websites create a superhero caricature that are truly original? Or would they fall back on the old Marvel-like tricks that have become so familiar over the last seventy or so years? In my opinion, if you’re going to create a cartoon caricature, you might as well make it genuinely original. Go back to basics. Just like my Olympic egg caricature character is striving to achieve something great, what is this particular hero trying to achieve? What is their dream? What is their aim? Such questions will inform a truly interesting caricature. They will shape the athlete, or the hero, and give him or her a distinctive voice and personality.

So now, as I dab my last white dashes onto the Olympic caricature, three days before our big gala launch at the Goring hotel, it’s time to stand back and see if this is really original, if it has real artistic value. I can’t really tell… phiewh! Impossible to be objective! But I hope people will like it. We’ll see, I guess.

November 24, 2011

Preserving memories when you do not have photos

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 3:17 pm

Photographs are by far the easiest and most common way of preserving a special memory so it can be treasured forever and also shared with friends. Despite the fact that digital cameras are now carried by anyone who uses a smartphone, sometimes the best and funniest moments are impossible to capture on film. They might be unexpected and gone in an instant, like the sighting of golden eagle on a mountain walk, or happen in places where photography is tricky – in the water or at a concert, for example.

While we usually create caricatures from photo sources, there is a lot more to a great cartoon than just reproducing a single image. We can bring in elements from multiple photos or (with a little help from you) draw something that perfectly represents that wonderful moment you didn’t quite manage to capture on film. It might be your loved one catching a perfect wave on the local surf beach or a holiday sunset that the photos just didn’t do justice to – whatever memories you want preserved, we can help.

A caricature cartoon can reflect a single moment in time or it can sum up a year or a decade. It’s hard to find a single photograph that captures all the ups and downs of an entire career, for example, but pen and ink can do a superb job. By building a caricature from photo sources and from descriptions and discussions, we can make sure you get something that brings to mind all those precious moments every time you see it.

November 9, 2011

Caricatures on the web

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 2:47 pm

Most of our caricatures from photo collections end up as treasured possessions, decorating a home or an office, but some are intended for other purposes. Like many excellent artists in this area Charlie does provide cartoons for newspapers – after all, most of the history of caricature as an art form does revolve around the printing press. But that’s not all.

More recently, caricatures have moved from print media to the web. There are many reasons a person or a company might choose to illustrate their website with cartoons rather than photos. First and foremost, it makes the site stand out from the competition (something that is never easy to do) and helps people remember it. There might be hundreds of well-designed websites all offering the same thing but very few will have funny, personalised, and eye-catching cartoons.

We can create caricatures from photos of your employees, photos of your wares, or even of your building or office. They can be used on business cards, on the staff pages of your website, and on internal documents and reports. Presentations with personal, specially created cartoon graphics really have what it takes to get people’s attention and hold it.

If you’d like to see some of Charlie’s work being used on the web, take a look at the portfolio pages. A selection of works is listed there, with links to real web pages used by real businesses. You never know, there might be some ideas in there that will help you spice up your corporate image!

November 1, 2011

6 uses for a caricature cartoon

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 2:47 pm

A caricature cartoon can be so many different things. Each one captures something different and makes a unique statement- and that can be anything you want it to be. Here are just a few ways people have used Charlie’s art:

1. Wedding anniversary gifts. We can make a single caricature from photos taken over the course of a whole year, recording and celebrating all the great things that have happened to a couple.

2. Retirement presents. What better way to applaud years of service than with an affectionate, cheerful cartoon? A photo of a person sitting at a desk can’t show just how much they meant to the company but a hand-drawn, lovingly crafted picture can.

3. Business cards. If you want people to be interested in your business cards they need to be different. With a personalised image drawn by Charlie your card can be engaging and memorable.

4. Corporate art. Offices don’t have to be boring and nor do business websites. Charlie works with companies that want to promote a friendly, helpful image and a reputation for thinking outside the box.

5. Welcoming family portraits. Caricatures from photos are great for adding a touch of warmth to a home. Visitors seeing an image of a happy, friendly family will be put at their ease and friends will be delighted and amused.

6. Stag gifts. A cartoon can be the perfect way to commemorate the end of bachelorhood. A group portrait of all the groom’s friends will make sure they’re not forgotten as he settles into marital bliss.

October 7, 2011

Caricatures Make an Emotional Investment

Filed under: caricatures — Tags: , , , — Charlie Anson @ 4:18 pm

I often get repeat customers coming back to order caricatures up to a year after their last order. The caricatures business is one that builds up a solid following, but it’s nothing quick-fire! It’s not like we’re selling doughnuts or contact lenses here. Caricatures are bought as a gift, and then if that gift goes down well, people think of the idea again a few months down the line, when the next birthday or wedding pops up.

Just this morning I had a couple of caricatures ordered for a birthday. The order was placed by a customer who had ordered a caricature for a wedding over a year ago, in August. It’s always funny when a familiar name pops up in your email list… You try to think: when did we last do caricatures for this client. You try to match a name to an idea, a composition… then , when that fails, I run a search through our caricatures archive, to put a name to a face. So,, who are you… oh yes that’s right, you’re married to that woman flying through the air on a magic carpet, dressed as Princess Jasmin and holding a giant blackberry. That’s the one!

That’s when it’s fun for me to take a trip down memory lane and re-visit old orders. Every single caricatures order represents an emotional investment, so it’s always funny to go back and see these caricatures, and to wonder what those caricatures have lived through since they were made: How many people have seen them, smiled, laughed…

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