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

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!

April 24, 2012

Caricature yourself is not easy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 3:20 pm

I’ve often wondered: Do the little caricatures of me on my business cards and website actually look like me at all? Well, on one hand I guess it doesn’t matter that much: As long as the caricatures of Maggie Smith and Mo Farah (the celebs!) look like them, then who’s to care if my caricatures don’t look much like me! After all, it’s not like my customers often meet me in the flesh.

But the main reason this bothers me as a question is that it’s incredibly difficult to caricature yourself. I’ve done so a couple of times, and every time I’ve thrown away drafts by the bucketful just to get to a draft I liked… and even then there was no way I could really be sure the caricatures actually looked like me! I’d have to ask some friends, say “honestly, is this me?”… and well, they said yes to this one. When my hair’s doing that thing. Sometimes…

Oh well, better stick to just doing other peoples’ leaving gifts and get someone else to do mine next time I have to do an update. After all, you have to caricature yourself every few years as you get older, if you want to caricature depiction to remain accurate!

But yeah, just doing leaving gifts for customers I don’t know is quite a lot easier. You look at them objectively, you tell their story from the outsider’s perspective… I’d love someone to do a caricature cartoon of me one day to see what if felt like!

All I know is that caricatures that really show a story make people truly happy when they see them. People have been reduced to tears on seeing one of our leaving gifts. So these caricatures are a great thing to do. But to caricature yourself is to step outside yourself and look at yourself like an object. Very tough to do!

April 23, 2012

Caricature from photo – IN THE BEGINNING

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 3:01 pm
Old Caricatures from photos site


So how did this whole caricature from photo business start? Well, I set up the basic website, advertising at photo to caricatures service, over five years ago. I remember: I was parking my bike at the gym, and had a eureka moment: I could do something I love and provide a unique service, nailing a specific market niche. These could be gifts for dads, for mums, for siblings, lovers… anyone! The customer comes up with facts, and the artist creates the caricature from photo material provided by the customer. Dead easy.

Current Charlies Cartoons Website

The problem then was twofold: First, how do I get my caricature from photo business out there? And second, if it does do well, how will I manage all the work on my own? Well the second question wasn’t relevant for a while. I worked with a minor, trickle-along google ad for a couple of years, from which I got to do a couple of gifts for dads here, leaving gifts there…

Then, just over two years ago, I decided it was time to take the plunge. My then girlfriend, who worked in advertising, said she’s take care of the marketing side if I put together the creative team, and got a few cartoonists to learn the house caricature from photo style. Good idea in principle, but then we broke up a couple of months later and I was on my own. I tried this and that to show that photo to caricatures was the best gift ever… Mailed out to friends and contacts, run a higher budget on adwords… I even pushed to get my cartoons in City AM and wound up being their in-house cartoonists. But the big moment for my photo to caricatures business was when I met my investor, Tony Briggs. He was amused by the whole caricature from photo idea, and believed that if we pitched the model to the right retailers, caricature from photo gifts could be the next big thing.

Two years and about 1000 gifts for dads later, we’re still growing and counting!

April 18, 2012

The Big Egg Hunt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 2:35 pm
The Big Hunt

The Big Hunt

Wow. The Big egg hunt is finally over. Three months of effort, starting with the creation of caricatures from photos of our top British Olympic athletes, moving on to caricatures of celebs such as Maggie smith, and ending with the big exhibition in Covent Garden that attracted attention not only from locals but from thousands of tourists too…

And now it’s back to the regular day job of producing leaving gifts for our regular clientele… Caricatures from photos sent from all over the UK, to our little hub in London, where we sit down, pick apart and bring together the most recognisable features of a person’s life, and create, I think, the best caricatures you can find.

In fact, we’ve had a surge of leaving gifts requests recently. I wonder why? Birthday and anniversaries have historically been our most popular categories. But there’s something about leaving an office after years of work, years of history, that makes leaving gifts the most important gifts of all. These caricatures from photos have to say it all, from gentle mockery of funny incidents past to celebratory recognition of great achievements.

But I don’t want to get too worthy… these are only caricatures after all! It’s not fine art, but it is a fine kind of art, if you know what I mean… It’s never going to attract the trendy literati, but caricatures from photos nevertheless mobilise the artist’s most sensitive and acute faculties. And, unlike some “fine art” out these, caricatures from photos actually require a level of technical proficiency which the artist can use to serve his or her vision. You wonder sometimes with some modern art: which parts are truly intentional expression, and which are the fruit of technical limitations? At least our caricatures from photos artists can draw… and the do so extremely well!

April 16, 2012

Return of the Egg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 3:02 pm

Last week arrived at the studio in Clerkenwell at 9.30am as usual, headed round the corner by my desk to the coffee machine to kickstart my day, and Jo from the Elephant Family office called out to me and said “Have your heard the good news”? No, I said… I haven’t. “The’ve found your egg”, she replied.

“Our Team”, a cartoon egg I’d spent two and a half weeks making in January, got stolen in March when I was off on holiday. The organisers told me that they hoped it would return, just as the previous two stolen ones were returned after a thorough police investigation. But after a week or so of waiting, no such luck for us. Oh well I though, the insurance is covering it, so I guess we’re covered financially… but this is not the way I thought it would end!

Then, almost two weeks after the theft and four days before the end of the Big Egg Hunt event, just as all the London eggs were being taken off the street and gathered in Covent Garden for a final show, it turned up! I was hoping to hear about how it turned up, but Westminster Council gave nothing away. It was just there. Returned to us in Covent Garden. With huge black marks all over it, and a crack running all the way along one side, as it turned out.

So when I turned up to check it out at the “Egg Hospital”, my first reaction was to call the organiser Ruth and say No Way – I’m afraid it’s irretrievable. But then I looked at it again with my Mum who’s a specialist in trompe-l’oeil painting, and she said we could do it. And we did! Five hours of work later, it was sanded, the crack was filled, and we painted over it… and it went back up for auction… Securing £3,400 at the auction for the Action for Children and Elephant Family charities!


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

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).

March 13, 2012

The Big Egg Hunt – Photo to Caricatures

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 12:29 pm

Well, we’re off! The big egg hunt has begun everybody…. Big, big, big whoop!! Over the last month, I’ve been undergoing a big photo to caricatures effort, mainly with photos found on the web, turning a blank canvas (a big white egg) into a piece of caricature art featuring twelve members (6 men and 6 women) of the UK Olympic team!

It’s on Trafalgar Square, the north west corner. Find it, email me, and you’ll get a freebee (mark my words…) let me see… 50% off “photo to caricatures” gifts for dads for the first 5 emails? How about that. If you read this blog, and you’re after gifts for dads (big birthday, father’s day, anything) email me with the exact location of that caricature egg and I’ll give you 50% off! How’s that for a spontaneous offer…

But anyway, gifts for dads weren’t the main thing I had in mind when I set out to produce these “photo to caricatures” eggs. Of course, I need to make money and create exposure for this company, and the Big Egg Hunt should help with that. But it’s also a great cause! The photo to caricatures artwork on the egg is part of a huge effort to raise money for Action for Children, a charity helping disadvantaged youths throughout the UK. So if you want to sponsor the egg, just pay it a visit and text the number on the plinth… and guess what, you can win a big jackpot as well as giving to charity – win win!

But back to the egg: Going to google images for pictures of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis etc, in order to transform a photo to caricatures on the egg, was a pretty tough task. For a start, very few photos available for free on the webare good quality… But I managed to get the caricature right eventually. Transposing a photo to caricatures is so much easier when you’ve met a person in the flesh!

March 6, 2012

Caricature Artist to Draw Caricatures from Family Photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Anson @ 11:32 am

I’ve recently received a wave of orders of people just wanting a family cartoon – customers wanting to commission a caricature artist to produce one big (usually a3 or a2) caricature from photo portraits of their family. So these aren’t for any particular individual – they’re just a gift for the family in general. A caricature from photo, that will hand over the mantelpiece for years and years, and remind everyone of the good times, of the family unit, even when times are tough.

But anyway, enough romantic harping on. What if you DO need to commission a caricature artist to do something for a specific person? The most common commissions tend to be gifts for husbands. Gifts for husbands can be very difficult to procure – a bit like gifts for dads! (And yes, I know, they’re often the same thing…)

The thing is, what sort of effect do you want to have on your husband? Do you want him to feel like you’ve invested every last penny you had? Well, probably not. Especially in these cash-strapped times, aren’t you better off both saving for your kids’ education, the mortgage, and so on? On the other hand, perhaps gifts for husbands should reflect something more personal: How much you know him… and a shared sense of humour. That is what a caricature from photo portraits of the man himself can do. A caricature from photo material can really sum a person up. Frame it, and you’re onto a winner for under 150 quid.

Next step is getting the right caricature artist to do this for you. The truth is, Charlie’s Cartoons is just one of many, and to get just the right caricature from photo, you’re best off browsing the web for just the right person or company… But of course, of all those caricature from photo providers, I think we’ve got the edge J

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.

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