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

July 4, 2013

Unique & Personal Gift Ideas

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 11:02 am

1416350_91168614Finding the perfect gift for someone you love can be a great deal more difficult than it often sounds. Of course, it’s relatively easy to find something that’s at least fun or entertaining. But finding a gift that strikes just the right note, showing your love and devotion, takes careful consideration, and often a great deal of preparation. So, if you have a gift-giving occasion coming up – whether it be a birthday, anniversary, or even a wedding – here a are a few ideas that can help to inspire a truly unique and personal gift.

Symbolic Jewellery
Jewellery alone is a very common, but generally fairly impersonal gift. We give jewellery when we want to show that we care about a gift-giving occasion, and for the average occasion it’s a very nice gesture. But giving symbolic or personalized jewellery takes things a step further, and turns a traditional idea into a more sentimental one. Whether it’s gems that match the gift recipient’s birthstone, a watch with a personal engraving etched into it, or even something generally symbolic like an eternity ring (featuring a ring of diamonds conveying the idea of eternal connection), there are plenty of options for personal and jewellery gifts.

Pre-Planned Vacation
Any paid vacation shows a great deal of thought and devotion, but if you truly want to go the extra mile, you can even look into planning aspects of the vacation. For example: don’t just book a weekend beach getaway, schedule a massage or a catered meal during the weekend. Planning a vacation much as you would a spa day is a great way to demonstrate some real care and effort in preparing a gift.

Personalized Items
Perhaps the best way to show a personal touch, rather than simply the ability to purchase a gift, is to look into ordering a personalized item. Whether it’s an engraved gift, a fitting cartoon, or even a themed or personalized cake from Marks and Spencer, there are dozens of appealing options out there. Just remember: people tend to buy what they really want. But no one will buy him or herself a personalized item!

Something From The Past
If you’re working with a romantic occasion, something from the past can often make the best gift. It could be something you purchase from the town where you first met your significant other, an excerpt from an old diary that demonstrates your feelings, or even something as simple as a photo album from the early days of your relationship. These sorts of gestures strike unique, personal, and of course, romantic notes.

A Home Improvement
Finally, consider home improvements. They may not sound too exciting as gifts, but they’re the ultimate ideas that are more efficient as gifts. If she wants the porch painted, or work done on the garden, for example, it’s more likely she’ll put these things off. If you simply have improvements done, the action will certainly be met with deep appreciation.

June 14, 2013

A crucial month…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 11:40 am

 

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It’s been a busy few weeks, with lots of photographs being sent in ready for us to turn into cartoons. There’s always something slightly nerve-wracking about placing that first brush-stroke onto the paper, especially when painting caricatures from photos. Trying to depict the personality of the person you are portraying in a fun and humorous way can be quite challenging! So to see a caricature come to life as you apply the finishing touches is extremely rewarding, especially as you know as it will be brightening up someone’s day, perhaps as a leaving gift, a birthday present, or a memento of a special holiday. The magic of caricatures from photographs is how fully they can capture the subject’s personality, perhaps more than the original photograph ever could.

The recent option of choosing a digital cartoon has been proving very popular, the crisp lines and smooth colours making for a nice contrast to the more traditional hand painted watercolours. These too are created from sent-in photos, so the result is still a highly personalized caricature of great quality, making for something that will be valued for a long time.

It’s getting easier than ever to immortalize a person or moment, with us now being able to take an infinite number of high-resolution pictures on our mobile phones and other gadgets.  Whilst this is great, it also means photos have lost some of their importance, some of their charm. In an electronic age, photographs can become disposable and forgettable. People like permanence, and a caricature created from a photograph, whether painted or digital, offers a kind of tactile reality that is often lost today. The act of an artist making a caricature from a photo somehow makes it more real, as their artistic personality amplifies the personality of the subject, resulting in a picture that can be both funny and heart warming.

June 12, 2012

How terrifying it would be to have a job! – Caricatures from Photos Business

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 7:14 am

How terrifying it would be to have a job! Last job I had was two and a half years ago, and it was a tricky deal feeling motivated for it. I worked simultaneously as a French tutor and as a freelance consultant at a management consultancy called AMR on Oxford Circus. The money was ok, but there’s a thing about working to fulfill someone else’s agenda that feels like a waste of time.

Of course hierarchies are natural. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have bosses. As a boss, that would be a dangerous thing for me to say. But my reasoning always carries me back to the jungle. Not so much of a “what would Jesus do?” question as a “What would a caveman do?” one. Cavemen had hierarchies. They followed leaders. But whether that was into a hunt, or into battle, the sense that all members were vying for a common interest must have been tangible all the time. Members needed each other to achieve more together, to feed and protect their families, directly. There was no “middleman” interest. The problem I had with jobs was that between me and my wellbeing was the corporate entity. You work for the interest of the corporation, you imagine ways of making it money, of making it great. And then yes, it’s good to you in return. But when things are indirect like that, they are unwholesome, unnatural and unsatisfying.

So now I run a business. Which of course provides jobs, yes, but all of which have tangible merit. Painting cartoon caricatures is a self-rewarding artistic process. In that sense, being an artist and being a caveman are the same thing. Everything you do is right in front of you, every result is tangible. You do not operate at a secondary level. Everything is primary, immediate

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

June 5, 2012

Our caricatures from photos is growing and we on our own

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 9:05 am

That’s it – our investor Tony Briggs has just spent his last penny investing in our leaving gifts business. Tony, our main investor, has been with us since January 2010, overseeing our development and growth, from an online creator of personalised hand-made leaving gifts to a soon fully-fledged business enabling people to create caricatures from photos digitally, directly enabling you to caricature yourself via the website.

It’s been a rocky road for Tony, probably even more than for us, but then he’s a weathered businessman who’s seen many more storms than me! I met him through the friend of a friend of a friend, at a pub in 2009, and discussed my business plan with him. By January the following year, I’d secured his backing for the development of our leaving gifts business, just as we were pitching these same leaving gifts to the personalised cards giant Moonpig. We did eventually partner up with Moonpig, but moved our separate ways when it turned out our customer bases were too different. But the relationship with Tony stuck.

What was interesting was that Tony was about as far from a caricatures from photos business type guy, as you’re likely to find anywhere. He’s mainly been investing in commercial property: taking over run down establishments, turning them ultra-competitive, and re-selling. This leaving gifts venture was a sort of feather in his hat. It might not turn out to be another Google, but developing a site that enables you to caricature yourself is a hell of a lot more fun, and less risky, than developing a disused car park. He wanted a fun ride, and hopefully we’ve provided that – especially as now it looks like we’re actually growing.

So far it’s been an uphill financial struggle, producing caricatures from photos at enough of a mark-up to keep on living, advertising leaving gifts without breaking the bank, making it attractive to caricature yourself while focusing on the day-to-day management. I wouldn’t say we’ve “arrived”, but we’re not in a bad place either.Thank you Tony!

May 18, 2012

Customer service is key in the caricature from photo business

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 7:34 am

Why is is that when you set up a new, exciting innovative business, you spend 95% of your time not actually doing business, but running the day-to-day grind of admin that keeps that young business alive?

My business centres around relationships with customers, and with my service providers, the cartoonists. I guess I’m a sort of agent or middle man most of the time, advising and facilitating the transaction but leaving the creative input to others.

So I get to work, make a cuppa, and there’s my inbox full to the brim with customers and cartoonists. I then pop up the spreadsheet containing all my customer details on one page, where I update their status as the transactions progress, and that has cartoonist status on another page, showing what stage each of them are at with each of their cartoons. Then we have the cartoon files where all our digital cartoons are stored, and that’s it: The Charlie’s Cartoons office!

It’s amazing how an entire office can be portable these days. Last week I told you how I set up in the green room during an acting job, dressed as young Einstein, with my laptop and internet connection being the only things I needed to run the biz. Last year I went for a long weekend to Prague with Helga. I managed the business from our hotel room in the morning, and explored the city in the afternoon. And when we were in Indonesia, well, of course then Jane was managing the business in my stead… but I’d still have to log on once a week in grubby run-down internet cafes in fishing villages, to take key questions and oversee the finances.

At one point of the holiday, we spent a week on an island in the middle of a coral lagoon. £100 per week for a cabin, fish, rice, electricity and water. Paradise. I remember thinking: All I need is broadband, and I could run the business from here!

So here I am in Clerkenwell…

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

May 14, 2012

Caricatures from photo, a great leaving gift pt 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 7:23 am

So anyway, to carry on that story about how our caricatures business ran in and out of dire straits… Fortunately, an online caricatures business doesn’t have that many overheads to cope with. I was working from home, and the cartoonists were working from their homes. All we were paying for was paper, google ads and packaging, and that’s all covered by our caricatures pricing model.

But the summer months were ever so slow. And yet before we knew it, along came Autumn, and as longs weeks of turning out leaving gifts drifted by, I quickly realised that I wouldn’t stay sane if I just kept making caricatures from home. I’d have to get an office.

Fortunately my girlfriend Helga is computer literate, unlike me. So she briefly surfed the web and found me an option: a new office space in Clapham that looked like it would do the job. So I quickly put all my caricature yourself kit (a computer, and some poster tubes) in a box, and moved over there. I was unsurprisingly the only caricatures company in the building, and also the only leaving gifts company in the building, which was fun. And it was a start-up environment where we all enjoyed sharing ideas: “You could caricature yourself and stick the image on a body template! You could caricature yourself and make mugs and tshirts!” the ideas would flow in, and they were most welcome!

So unsurprisingly it all felt a great deal more dynamic, and my caricatures business doubled its intake almost overnight, as I strived rigorously 9am to 7pm daily (at least), pursuing every avenue that could generate orders for leaving gifts… and now, since the Big Egg hunt, I’m over in Clerkenwell… and it finally looks like my business might be profitable!

 

 

May 11, 2012

Caricatures from photos, a great leaving gift

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 7:00 am

This is wonderful. We’re experience a real surge in our caricatures from photos orders! This time last year, it was pretty dire times… Our caricatures artists were sometimes sitting around for days for the next commission, when I didn’t have enough commissions for leaving gifts and so on to keep them all busy. Send us info packs, they’d say, and I’d be like, sorry… nothing’s come through… as soon as it does, I’ll tell you. In the meantime, why

not caricature yourself!

Seriously I actually said caricature yourself to my cartoonists. Why? Because I needed caricatures of them for the website. And why don’t I have them now? Because thankfully, we got busy again, shortly after that little crisis.

Caricatures from photos are tough to make when the photos aren’t flowing in. So yes, last april/may, we were facing a shortage of leaving gifts orders. So I cut down on all our costs, worked from home and we worked on a sort of “hibernation mode”, doing caricatures from photos if and when they were commissioned. In the summer, I guess our leaving gifts business wasn’t helped by the fact that I went off on holiday for four weeks. But then, it was most definitely worth it! Leaving caricatures far behind, my girlfriend and I went on a big wildlife tour of Sulawesi Indeonedia, about 10,000 miles away from the nearest caricatures from photos. It was welcome relief, but caricatures from photos don’t just draw themselves, and by the time we got back, despite my deputy caricatures manager Jane’s best efforts… we’d hit rock bottom order-wise!

What a shame we couldn’t just get by from selling caricatures from photos we had taken on our holiday. There would have been enough to keep a business going for years, given my girlfriend’s trigger happy photo taking habits…

May 9, 2012

Painting Caricatures and Acting on Downton Abbey

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 9:59 am

Well I lead a pretty complex life, you see. Juggling professions, working as an actor on one hand, and running my own business on the other.

Downton Abbey

I was filming season three of Downton Abbey in March, which was a great laugh. Over to Highclere castle to film with Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville etc… Beautiful sets, costumes, the lot… and then when back at the hotel in the evening, I open up the laptop, log on to my Charlie’s Cartoons email account, and work my way through a day’s worth of customer requests and cartoonist checks while munching on a room service sandwich! Not a very relaxing thing to be launching a business and a TV career in the same breath, but it’s a hell of a rush – in every sense!

Today, for instance, I was working on a slightly less glamorous but very fun production, Dark Matters for the Discovery Channel. The studio where it’s being filmed is a big blue screen hangar in Battersea, a skip and a jump from my house, so that was rather convenient. Now usually when I’m involved in something big acting-wise I’ll hand over the day-to-day reins of the business to my deputy manager Jane, but this time was too short-notice to sort out a handover… So I had to manage the business and film over the same 4 day period!

I set up camp in the green room once I’d been through costume hair and make-up – I was playing young Einstein in the year 1920, so had a big fat moustache and explosive hair – and logged in to my email account. And got through the work between scenes. So-and-so requesting a tracking code for their cartoon, a cartoonist asking for my opinion on a likeness… I did it all while sipping a cup of tea through a bushy fake moustache…

Just another day at the office.

 

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

May 4, 2012

Personal Caricature Yourself Service

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 12:54 pm

I’ve just been browsing the internet and there are some sites that do make it very easy for you to caricature yourself. My caricatures service being very personalised, people have to get in touch with photos and some info, then we invoice them for a deposit, and produce the draft before we go on to the definitive caricatures from photos. But there are companies out there who ask for all the money upfront in order to be able to caricature yourself.

Now I’m not really sure I would buy that! Caricatures are unknown quantities, and at the end of the day, if you’re going to shell out, you’re going to want a minimum of proof that what you’re buying is on target! After all, you want to caricature yourself, not someone who looks a bit like you! So I only ask for a deposit up front – you pay for the rest once you’ve approved the draft and seen the final caricatures as a copy.

But then I guess that with a one off payment comes a good deal of ease. There’s no convoluted process, just a payment, a photo upload, and then you’re guaranteed satisfaction on the delivered product. Sounds good to me!

But this will only work for low degrees of personalisation. If you want to caricature yourself for a tshirt, or caricature yourself and your partner for a mug or a framed print, then the cheap, one off payment solution works well. But if you want sophisticated, hand-made caricatures from photos, you’re going to expect more gurantees than that. The degree of uncertaintly goes hand in hand with the degree of persoanlisation. By making caricatures from photos that are extra personalised, I’ve opened up a big can of worms: How do you get customers to trust your judgment from the go? Is there a fully reliable way to caricature yourself?

May 1, 2012

Caricatures from photos Business is Growing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 12:46 pm

Looks like business is about to expand! A couple of weeks ago we were approached by a wholesale caricatures from photos company, who produce digitally made birthday presents and leaving gifts for companies such as mine to sell on. They operate worldwide, but apparently we are the one caricatures from photos company in the UK with which they would like to do business.

So now it looks like hand-painted leaving gifts isn’t going to be the only thing on the menu! Up until now I’ve always had a bit of an aversion from selling digitally made leaving gifts, but it’s time to put away that hang-up. After all, at the moment, about 70% of people who visit my site for the first time leave the site because the caricatures from photos are too expensive for them. Those who do go ahead with the service are thrilled with the result, but it has to be for an occasion that matches the investment. Producing caricatures from photos of people as leaving gifts is a wonderful thing to do, but you’re not going to throw in £130+ to caricature yourself on a whim with a bunch of mates.

That’s where our new friends come in! They’re certainly not one of those “caricature yourself” programmes that automatically convert photos into cartoon medium, but they’re almost that efficient. These are highly trained artisits who are used to producing several leaving gifts a day, using Photoshop and Illustrator to do the boring stuff, and just coming up with the creative elements themselves.

So now you’ll be able to caricature yourself on our site from as little as £35, which means cheaper leaving gifts when you don’t want to push the boat out!

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