Supplier Love – Cornwall Caricatures
We first met Cassie from Cornwall Caricatures back in 2016 when she attended our Wedding Collection. We loved the originality of her creations and she proved very popular amongst our attendees! A caricaturist is a fantastic addition to any wedding, providing guests with a unique form of entertainment, as well as a memento of the day.
Duke Wedding Collection 2016 – Image 1: Artography
We caught up with Cassie to find out all about her business.
Have you always enjoyed drawing, when did you discover it was something you were good at?
Drawing faces is all I ever wanted to do as a child. I didn’t walk until I was 18 months old because I was far too busy holding a pen! My nursery teacher remarked how amazing it was that I drew a Christmas angel with brown plaits and red lipstick at the age of 2. My parents encouraged my love for drawing and I drew people every single day, so it just felt so natural and part of who I am, to the point that it took me until the age of 25 to realise I could make a business out of it, and 27 to realise it could actually be my full-time business, which I’m so lucky to say it now is. Every school project I had used to involve faces. I remember getting an ‘F’ from a supply teacher in Science because I coloured my science exercise book in with glittery crayons and drew a mad scientist. The work itself was correct, but I obviously rubbed him up the wrong way with my creative additions!
What inspired Cornwall Caricatures?
At the age of about 15, I went to Alton Towers and saw a caricaturist in action at the park. He was charging a fortune to draw generic cartoons that looked nothing like the person, and people were merrily handing over their money. He was drawing the same face each time, but just changing the hairstyles. “I can do better than that!” I thought and started drawing famous iconic celebrities in a caricature style at home, such as Elvis, Will Smith and Robbie Williams using black pen and pastel chalk. I stuck them to a plank of wood and headed into Newquay’s bustling centre in the summer holidays, spraying the pictures with hairspray to set them. I must have looked so unprofessional, a child with some pastels and a hand drawn sign, but I made some money and had no problem drawing live, so that’s how I cut my teeth at live event caricatures, until the police came along and moved me on that is! They couldn’t tell me if I was classed as a hawker or a peddler as I was kind of providing both a product and a service, so that was that – the authorities couldn’t tell me how to proceed, so as an obedient youngster, I closed that door and moved on.
At that point I still saw it as ‘just something I did’ and a hobby and didn’t see it as a remarkable talent. Like most people in society I didn’t view art as a ‘real job’ and as a forward-planner, I had already decided my future career while still at Primary School. I’d always loved magazines and trying to replicate them as a child with desk-top publishing software, so I put my focus into that, studying Graphic Design at college and uni, and throwing myself into placements to get contacts in the industry and pursue my career in magazine design. However, I still drew caricatures and faces for all of my degree projects, and looking back, it seems so obvious now. In fact, I actually got asked a few times if I should be doing the Illustration course instead, but as a naïve 18 year old, I couldn’t see how that would get me a job, and being self-employed or freelance just sounded too scary and full of risk.
Fast forward to my final year and we had to take on live briefs for National companies, to give us experience of real-life pitches. I chose the British Music Experience (then based at the O2 in London) and created 64 ‘icon’ illustrations of the 64 most iconic British musicians to celebrate 64 years of British Music. I designed a poster campaign for London Underground tube stations, inviting the public to guess the faces from the stripped down illustrations, which were basically coloured boxes with just the iconic hairstyles and accessories that made a celeb unique. Effectively caricaturing in its simplest form! My idea was such a hit, that not only did I win the brief, I won the overall National YCN award from thousands of young designers all across the country, and the O2 even paid me to commission the project for real, with stars such as Rod Stewart donating prizes like a signed guitar.
From there I began my career in Graphic Design and almost made it to London a few times, but a job offer clashed with having just put a deposit on a place in Cornwall with my then boyfriend (now husband), so I was destined to stay in the Duchy where I was born and raised. However, I still felt like I had an itch to scratch and my love of capturing faces remained. I drew at a few events in 2012 and 2013 for friends, just as a hobby, so I kept my toe ever so slightly dipped in and learned on the job how to draw live. Luckily, I’m a rare breed that enjoys working under pressure, so I liked it! I had the idea for Cornwall Caricatures after this, and knew I had photos for my portfolio when the time came to launch, but I was so busy planning my own wedding from 2012-14, (which as you know, takes over your life!), so having been very surprised that there was no live event caricaturist based in the county, and seeing a huge gap in the market, I claimed the name and bought the domain for my website with a view to setting it up after my wedding.
After enjoying a relaxing honeymoon period, I was asked me to come and draw caricatures at a MNDA fundraiser in 2015 and decided that this was the sign I needed to make this business a reality. I am quite a perfectionist (yes, it doesn’t go well with drawing quick sketches, I know!), so I just had to have a logo, a professional uniform and branded director’s chair before I turned up. So I got to work on planning the business and spent 2 holidays abroad sipping cocktails and scribbling my plans in a sketchbook. I just can’t sit still – I don’t do relaxing very well! I was all set to launch, and that was my first event in September 2015! A Facebook page and website followed in January, as well as a targeted direct mail campaign where I drew 50 event and wedding professionals from their LinkedIn profile pictures and sent them personalised leaflets with their caricature inside. By February I was drawing at my first paid event, and that campaign actually led me to be booked by Wedding Queen herself, Jenny Wren, for her own big day. Now here I am, 3 years later, doing this full-time, with my own little home office, and loving life!
What makes your business unique?
I don’t think you can really get more unique than a hand drawn portrait of your own face! People often ask me if I get bored drawing for hours without a break, but I absolutely love it! Faces are my passion and every face is different, so it keeps it new and exciting. I think caricatures are so popular because I can offer your guests the experience of not only being entertained at your wedding like a band or magician, but also of having their own face drawn to take home as a keepsake. I can also design personalised stickers with your name and wedding date to go on the caricature corners, which many couples use as a favour for their guests. Many also frame them and put them up in their homes, so your special day is constantly in their memory.
What packages are you able to offer couples?
First of all, it’s probably best to explain how it all works. Couples book me by the hour (or half hour), paying in advance, and then I will draw as many people as I can within the time-frame chosen, with all guests taking away their portraits with no cost to themselves. I draw faces in around 5 minutes per person, so it’s probably a lot quicker than you’d think, and I can cover quite a lot of guests in a short time. Kids take typically 4 minutes and adults are around 5-6, so it’s very fast-paced. Rather than being sketchy, I have quite a bold and thick-lined style that people remark looks printed as I use quick dry markers that are non-toxic and lovely to work with. There is no drying time that you’d get with paint, and no smudging that you may find with charcoal. Packages-wise, after having been a bride myself just a few years ago, and having drawn at weddings for 3 years, I know and understand how different every wedding is, and how every couple wants the day to reflect them, so I am very flexible in what I can offer and how I fit into the celebrations. I am here to fill the awkward gaps and lulls in the day and keep spirits high, and laughter flowing.
I typically draw at 3 gaps, which are:
– The lull in between the ceremony and the reception – often when you and your partner are having photos taken. This keeps the guests entertained in this gap.
– The lull between the meal and speeches ending and the evening guests arriving. This perks the guests up before the party starts.
– As evening entertainment.
However, as ceremonies can start as early as 11am, or as late as 3 or 4pm, the timings are all down to you and what works best for your itinerary. The latest I have ever started drawing at a booking is 10pm and the earliest wedding was 11.45am. I have drawn at up to 3 weddings in one day, and the latest I have ever carried on drawing is until almost 1am! So hopefully that shows just how flexible I can be. There is so much to choose from in how you book me too. I draw for anything from 1.5 hours, right up to 6 hours, and I can either draw in one sitting, or split the slots with your meal and speeches as a break in the middle. I can also draw in either colour or black and white, can bring fold up chairs to create a seated caricature area, or I can bring my clipboard and draw ‘on the move’ which suits the drinks reception slot. I’m also able to draw people on single sheets of A4, or in couples, or groups of 3-5 on A3. I bring both paper sizes on the day if you’d like your guests to choose. So, I don’t really have a ‘set’ package, as I like to build the package around you and find something that is really going to suit and work with the flow of your day. A price list for my timings is available on request.
Have you noticed increased bookings in recent years? Has it become a trend?
I have only been in business for 3 years, so because of this, bookings are increasing year on year as momentum builds. I think it’s too early to use the word trend, as so many people say to me ‘I have never seen this kind of thing before’, or ‘I would never think of caricatures for a wedding, but it works so well!’. Sometimes couples will have been to lots of weddings with photo booths or sweetie carts for example and want something a bit different. At the end of the day, it’s all about personal choice, and I am often booked alongside a booth to give guests the option of both. I hope that caricatures never do become a trend, as I think there is something timeless about putting pen to paper, live, with no gimmicks, bells or whistles and simply drawing a face in front of observers in just a few minutes. There is no pre-sketch in pencil, no computers, and a pen and paper is something we all have access to, so I think that’s where the magic lies, as you watch the face come to life on the sheet and it’s a great piece of entertainment. Some of the earliest caricatures are found in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and the first book of caricatures was published in the 1700s, so it’s something people have enjoyed for hundreds of years. It’s also still very current – DJ Khaled and Justin Bieber’s recent record ‘No Brainer’ featured caricatures on the single artwork, and DJ Khaled then commissioned a caricature for his son Asahd’s 2nd birthday invite. Yes, I do follow his son on Instagram! He’s the same age as mine, so that’s my excuse!
Did you always know you wanted to run your own business?
This a definite no! I was always one to follow the rules as a child and craved security, which I thought only employment could give me. I had originally thought of Cornwall Caricatures as just a fun hobby business, and an additional income stream, but by the time I took a maternity break to have my son, Kasper, I had built up a busy calendar of bookings. With my job’s fixed term contract coming to an end, ironically the same month I was due to go back to work after maternity, I spent maternity leave applying for part-time jobs I could work around my son and caricature business, having interviews and feeling stressed out, when really the answer was staring me in the face. It just seemed too good to be true that I could earn my sole living from drawing people, and I believed I needed a safety net and guaranteed monthly income for my family. The whole time I was worrying about this, more bookings were flooding in, and the business had really taken off. It wasn’t until I actually got a job offer and did the sums on paper, that the penny dropped, and I realised I would then have less time to spend on my business, less time with my son, and be worse off financially (with nursery fees). So I declined the offer and became a full time artist! I now genuinely feel like I am living the dream. I get to be with Kasper all week, apart from Wednesdays when my mum has him and I catch up on admin and drawing/painting commissions from photos (another service I offer!), then all my live bookings are mainly evenings and weekends so my little boy is either asleep or with my husband. I occasionally get weekday daytime bookings, which I’m still able to fulfil with the help of a supportive family network who are always glad to spend time with Kasper! I’m so grateful and thank my lucky stars every day that I get to live this life. If someone told me I would be a full-time caricaturist just a few years ago, I would never have believed them. I still get excited inputting ‘Portrait Artist’ as my occupation for my car insurance!
What advice would you give couples looking to book interactive entertainment for their special day?
If you have any questions, please do get in touch so we can have a chat about how it all works and what you’d like to achieve for your wedding. I can bring lots of fun and laughter to a day that is all about love and happiness. My drawing style is a good mix of fun and flattery. I do exaggerate, as that’s what caricature is all about, but I am not horrendously cruel, I am actually a nice person! It’s my love of faces, chatting to people, and making people happy that got me into this job, not upsetting people. To this day (touch wood), nobody has been angry or upset at their picture and 99.9% of the time they crack up laughing, in fact I even had a woman literally fall off her chair with shock/delight so it certainly creates a huge buzz. What’s also great is that it’s not just the person being drawn who is entertained, but all the people crowding round to watch. My advice would be that caricatures are always way more popular than anyone ever anticipates. Couples are constantly saying that they couldn’t believe certain guests were getting up to be drawn, and it always goes down so well and gets amazing feedback from their friends and family alike. I often draw at multiple bookings in one day, so while daytime slots are often dictated by the time between the ceremony and meal for example, with evening bookings, I would say that about 80% of the time I am booked to stay on, as there are always loads of people still wanting to be drawn and nobody wants the fun to end! This extra time can be invoiced after the day so that you can relax and enjoy your day, and I will only stay on for the time you agree. Nobody wants a surprise invoice after their wedding and I totally get that!
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I’ve got years of experience working with kids and young people, have been DBS checked, and with children of my own, I am very patient with little ones, so I love drawing them. Some caricaturists refuse to work with kids, but they are often a big part of the wedding day, so I welcome them to sit to be drawn and crowd round to watch. In fact, parents are often startled by how still they sit for me! I also think it’s important to say that I draw one face at a time, so I can create a family portrait but each child/adult only needs to stay still for a few minutes each, so it’s really achievable, unlike a photo which can often be impossible to get everyone looking the right way at once/not blinking. I am a fun-loving person, which I think you need to be as a caricaturist, and people have said that they can’t believe that I chat whilst I draw. It’s a bit daunting being stared at by a stranger so I like to have a laugh and a joke with guests to make the experience relaxing, until the big reveal! Please do check out my 5* Facebook reviews to read about the experiences of real brides and grooms who booked me and how they found the whole package. I also have a helpful YouTube video which may give you more info on how it all works.
We hope that you have enjoyed hearing from Cassie, we certainly have and think you’ll agree that Cassie is absolutely fantastic at what she does! If you think that a caricaturist could be the perfect addition to your special day, click here to visit the Cornwall Caricatures website.