Firstly we use the term ‘ipad’ generically as virtually all caricaturists who work digitally do not work on ipad Why? Because ipad’s are rubbish for drawing on. “What about David Hockney!” I hear you, and several thousand art lovers, cry. Well the difference is that we have five to ten minutes to produce a very detailed picture and he can take as long as he likes, ‘cos he’s David Hockney. The ipad has no dedicated stylus which means you would have to use your finger. ‘I’ve got a stylus for my ipad!’ again you cry. Yes but it’s a lump of rubber glued to the end of a stick, it’s not made or endorsed by Apple and, for our purposes, it’s no better than your finger to draw with. Until Apple wake up and accept they’ve missed a trick on this one we’ll continue to use other makes of tablet. There are several very acceptable tablets that are used but each come with their own drawbacks and it’s very much down to personal choice. Why does it matter what make it is? Because iPads have a different operating system to Android and Windows tablets and if the artist needs to connect to a screen or work through an in-house AV system the IT people will need to know
In addition to emailing the pictures can be printed wirelessly too. Of course Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are marvellous things when they’re working properly but their efficiency very much depends on traffic. MiFi can solve the Wi-Fi issue but the only way around Bluetooth is to hard wire which then anchors the artist to one spot. So it’s worth having a Plan B.
If you intend to link up to anything other than a plasma/LCD monitor it’s important to test out the connectivity in advance. There are two main connection types VGA and HDMI. VGA is found on older monitors and laptops. Newer monitors, TV’s and tablets have HDMI although many have both. Android tablets tend to just have HDMI and this can be a problem when trying to connect to a projector. A lot of venues have ceiling mounted projectors and are connected via an in-house AV system or AV desk. HDMI is a domestic standard broadcasting signal and is limited with regards to the distance it will effectively travel. From your DVD player to your TV is usually a matter of feet. Ceiling mounted projectors are a long way away and invariably have only VGA and DVI connectivity. The IT bods will doubtlessly tell you that it’s ‘not a problem’ but in my experience it’s ‘always a problem’. Not an insurmountable one though but I recommend that the connection is sorted out well in advance and not on the day as other equipment not available on site might be needed.
Any kind of illustration can be provided in advance to act as a template. It can contain created artwork, photos, logos or all of the above. This would most probably involve a fee unless it’s simply placing a logo onto a page. Black line with grey tones will take on average around five minutes and a colour version ten minutes. This will vary from one artist to another. These timings can be greatly affected by circumstances. If the artist is stationery they cannot actively recruit customers which may slow things up. If they are emailing each picture the timing may depend on the efficiency of the Wi-Fi. If they are printing this can really slow the process up as the artist may have to return to the printer on occasions.
Whilst supposedly intending to enhance our life experiences technology can often do the opposite with its tendency to let us down at crucial moments. So preparation and realistic expectation are important with digital caricaturing. I have been using tablets for a few years now and it has reached a level to compete with the traditional pen on paper caricaturing. It never fails to impress and intrigue audiences and satisfies the instant gratification demanded by the public. Even when drawing traditionally so many people take a photo of their caricature and instantly post it to social media. For those who would rather not participate it provides a highly watchable form of entertainment on a big screen. Overall these caricatures make for great corporate entertainment.