With stark contrast against his streamline and immaculately renovated home office, you can see bubble headed cartoon portraits of individuals pasted on his wall.
A military man stand ramrod straight smiling widely in one of the artwork. Marvel superhero outfits of couples brandishing weapons or parachuting from Marina Bay Sands backdrop.
“Each of this artwork tells a story. We’ve even had a request from our client who wanted us to redraw his parent’s faded wedding photo, “says Adam Chua, who heads caricaturist, an art company set up in 2011 that provides studio and live events caricature-drawing services.
“It’s a unique memento for them to capture memories or even live out their fantasies. Clients ask us to draw them in all kinds of settings and themes.” While not as ubiquitous as the self shot from mobile phones, caricatures have been catching on fast here in the past 5 years, say artists and event organizing agencies.
Veteran caricaturist Welles Tan, 45, who has 24 years of experience, notes and increase in caricaturists which have risen from 23 to 30 ,compared with about five when he started in 1990.
“It’s a small art community … sometimes we get hired for the same event, so we know one another as friends or help each other for companies who need more artists” says Tan, who can sketch a caricature with both hands in under two minutes. He is the only ambidextrous caricaturist in Singapore.
Event organizers have seen a rise in demand for caricatures in the past five years and served as keepsakes for wedding events and a interesting fringe activity for corporate functions.
Veteran events company like Avivar Audience Communications noticed consumers want appealing events to attrrcat crowds or encourage early birds for events . Caricatures are among the top few activities along with mobile photo studio. 70% of bookings by clients request for caricaturists, an increase from 50% in 2009.
Artists here attribute the popularity to :
1. the increase of events here
2. audience thrill with Instagrams and selfies who liked to be sketched.
Besides being an ideal icebreaker for events and parties, Chua and his team of 9 artists have seen bookings double compared with five years ago. With their experience, they can churn out up to 20 caricatures in an hour. Prices range from $150 onward.
Last month, Adam rented a booth and worked for up to 10 hours daily, with only IO-minute breaks in between, at the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention, alongside other artists.
Amil Patir, an engineer, who paid $50 for a sketch with his fiancee wanted to frame his caricature.
” The anticipation for that three minutes an artwork and with the crowd giggles is enough to make him and his fiancee even more anxious to see that it turned out fun and nice” he says with a laugh.
Caricatures exaggerates a person features for comic relief and yet strangely retain the subject’s likeness.Therefore caricaturists must spot the distinct features within 30 seconds and complete in three minutes . At times with surrounding viewers, they have to encourage guests to break out of their shyness and not to take himself seriously. Almost 95% would like it and laugh their head off.
“Women are the likely customers hardest to please as they are conscious of their appearances and expect a drawing that make them look beautiful and attractive. You know you succeeded if the female guest kept smiling or laughing over her cartoon portrait”
But event organizers expectation are higher now as they expect faster drawing and yet quality likeness.
“We will do what the clients want and this become good training for us ” said Adam.
However, organizers look for those who can work fast as they do not wish to disappoint customers.
“Depending on the type of event fro example Parties, we prefer artists who are fast to accommodate big numbers. For corporate functions, we focus on quality as the companies have an image to maintain.
Artist usually decline to disclose rates for competitive reasons. Adam spoke to Sunday Life that A4-size black-and white caricature costs from $15 to $30, while on in color would cost at least $35. Some caricaturists are tired of being abuse by unethical organizers have taken their business online in search of customers.
Caricaturist, Adam Chua,used to drawing for demanding audiences, admitted to downplaying unflattering features, sometimes even slimming their subjects, trading the appearance of being true or real for customer satisfaction. “Our job is primarily to entertain, make our clients smile or laugh. It is important to draw tactfully and not hurt people’s feelings,” Chua explained.
Perhaps the most important lesson that any aspiring caricaturist like Adam continue to each others through their craft, is how not to take ourselves too seriously.