Today I’m talking about “Digital Caricatures”. It’s topic #2 in my old ebook, Cash For Cartoonists. If you don’t have a copy, you can grab one at the link.
It’s my belief that learning to “caricature” well is probably one of the modern cartoonists strongest secret weapons… or… uhm… skills! If you’re a cartoonist who sucks at caricatures or “likenesses” , you should practice getting better at it. Like now. You’d be shocked how much money you can make this niche. These days there are TONS of free videos on Youtube to put you on the right path there.
BUT, this post isn’t for cartoonist that suck. This post is for the cartoonists out there who get asked all the time “CAN YOU DRAW MY BOSS/GRANDMA/UNCLE/ AUNT/ DOG/SISTER INSERT ANY LIVING BEING. You know what I’m talking about. Seriously though, caricature skills are a MUST for just about any freelance illustrator or cartoonist. And being able to do it fast is even better. And keep in mind, I’m not asking you to go out and be one of those dudes who draws at easels at events…. although if you can do that comfortably there IS major bank to made there as well! I’ve turned down many party jobs or referred friends. Drawing live people in front of them just isn’t my bag. This is about “DIGITAL” caricatures. Which you can spend a little more time on and of course use cool tools like Photoshop for coloring and provide something a lot more professional looking to a customer as well.
The Process: A client will provide you with jpeg images to draw from, via email, messengers or texts. You will produce and deliver their digital caricature in a high resolution format for download (300-600dpi PDF works well), along with an optimized for web copy for sharing online easily. The client can also share the download link at their local print shops to have their caricature printed on quality paper at any size they’d like.
What to charge: Again prices are totally up to you. I’m still suggesting $25-75 per person range depending on the level of detail they want and how long these take you to draw. Ideally you should be up to speed to do at least 1-2 of these per hour. But with “digital” it’s not like you have to hurry and churn them out either. Just be mindful of your time. You can offer your own printing and physical delivery at a premium price. If it’s a complex piece, I suggest having them pay you half down and show them a pencil rough before you go into inking and coloring the work.
Your Target Market: EVERYBODY! Everyone loves caricatures! Whether it’s seeing yourself drawn, or goofing on your coworkers or family. No matter who buys, they show it off and the service can become very viral and keep you very busy. You can use the social search trick I showed in the previous post to find people who are actively looking for something to be drawn too.
Where to start? If you’ve never done this sort of work before spend some time drawing your friends, or famous people online. Make a little sample page on your website to link to. Customers are far more likely to order from you if you have your own website url and not just a facebook page or free site. Dreamhost offers free URLs when you sign up there.
In my experience: Like I said previously, caricature or likeness drawing skills are a really a powerful addition to your cartooning toolbox. It can expand into WAY more than just a goofy drawing of a co-worker or gag gift. The ability to draw likenesses has transitioned into many other freelance art jobs for me. Everything from custom greeting cards for families, to custom sketch covers where I draw a family as super heroes (I just did one for Fathers Day! I’ll re-add it here when I get permission to post after the holiday :) )
I’ve posted just a few of the recent examples of online caricature commissions or likeness drawings I’ve done through this post. And beyond getting paid, it also feels great when you’ve nailed a likeness and a couple or someone who’s buying as a gift really gets blown away by your work.
Marketing Ideas: Facebook and social media have exploded since I wrote the original ebook. People would eat up the chance to be drawn for free if you ran a promotion to draw their Facebook Profile pic. Another great idea is to find your vocal friends online and just surpise them with a free drawing of themselves and have them link back to your page as a plug.
Go Premium!: There are plenty of online print on demand services for shirts and other merch you could offer to put these caricatures on. Might I suggest something like spreadshirt.com ? (disclosure, I work for there! 🙂 )
Youtubez: Youtube is ripe with rising stars and opportunities to draw their likenesses for merch they sell to their fans or even just promotional ads like headers for their channels, etc.
Run an Ad!: Once you get a nice portfolio together and maybe start generating a few sales, you may consider running a small targeted ad campaign on Facebook. I’ll probably touch base on this method in a future post, but if you don’t know how to use the targeted ads you should learn! In a nutshell, you can spend as little as $10 to boost a post on Facebook or create an ad to go out for people looking for Mother’s Day gifts, or other holidays or people looking for last minute or unique gift ideas. Only do this if you feel you’re ready to up your game though and if you can afford to.
In my experience, caricatures are not my most favorite thing to draw, but I’m told that I’m pretty good at it. I know you can get very busy very fast you do it well. It’s a very viral form of cartooning. Maybe the most viral form. If your customer shows off a sweet piece you did for them, you’ll often get follow up orders from simple online word of mouth. For me mostly it’s just a skill set that aids all my other freelance work, but this could easily be a full time cartooning business if you have the patience and focus.
What’s Out There Now: Take a search around online for “online caricatures” and ordering caricatures online. Many of the websites seem a bit outdated, but these guys stay super busy with a classic caricature style. I think there’s a great opportunity for someone who has more of a modern cartooning style or unique style. If you know how to make a nice mobile ordering shop as well you could OWN this market or put a big dent in it for sure.
Any questions? Feel free to comment and start a discussion there.
If you want to see other blog posts in this series, check this link http://www.djcoffman.com/category/more-cash-for-cartoonists/
Next up…. I’ll cover #3 ACEO (art cards) which I’m also expanding to include Original Sketch Art of many sizes.