Free Entertainment — Or Not??

My usual setup when drawing caricature quick-sketches at parties and other events is pretty simple: Free To Guests. The host pays my hourly rate, so, hey — just get in line and I will do a two-minute drawing of you. Then I hand it over, with a clear acetate sleeve to protect it. Done!

And so the party is a success and the host is thrilled and I get paid so I am also thrilled. Sure! All good, right? Absolutely. The best part about that setup is the guests get a GIFT from the host they will keep forever. And it could not be more personal, either. If I did it right the drawing will look like that person — or that couple or family or sales team — and wow, is that a fun thing. The resemblance makes it precious, you know? Plus if I am able to drop in some little visual hint to that person’s interests, such as their work or sports or entertainment tastes, by placing a button on their lapel or BENGALS lettering on their T-shirt or a golf club in the sketch — that is always a good thing.

Now and then we get a client who wishes to charge a fee to the guests for their drawing. Seems like a good idea, right? But… usually it is not. I draw at a lot of WAY upscale events, with a guest list of very, very successful people. And I am consistently amazed to see that someone making north of $200 K yearly will wait a long time in line for a free drawing — but will NOT pay a few bucks to get one immediately. 


I have seen that over and over through the years. Odd but true. So all too often when my little “FREE DRAWINGS” sign is replaced by something like a “$5 a PERSON” sign — I am not busy. But there is an answer. A way to charge for the drawings and make it work.

When a sign is posted similar to “CONTRIBUTIONS PLEASE” — the line forms. Some people throw in a buck or two and some donate a ten or a twenty. The host keeps it all so I never know the totals but it is far more than the “$___ Per PERSON” format. 

Should you charge at your event? Obviously that is your decision. I am the hired help and will do things any way you wish, of course. Let’s work together to make your event a smash!

Art and Money

Your Big Decision!


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