Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Canterbury Punting Company

A couple of years back a few friends and I went on a haunted punting tour around the waterways of Canterbury. Our host, Miguel, was full of stories told in the manner of a gentleman from the 1930s and we had a wonderful evening.
With Halloween upon us we decided to return to this unique evening of entertainment and so we booked once more. Being told via email that our boat could take 12 people, we found 11 people ready to tour the darkened rivers of Canterbury.
So this evening we travelled down to Canterbury ready for our pre-booked 8 o'clock tour. On the journey I received a text asking if we knew our way there. "Very nice" I thought, that attention to detail. I quickly replied saying that we were on our way and asked if they had a toilet (I knew a few of us would need it before being surrounded by water for an hour) to which they replied "yes".
When we arrived at 7.50pm we found a small folk group playing music in the Punting Company's small shop and a worried looking girl opened the door. She quickly exclaimed that we were late and a gentleman with her gruffly said we were supposed to be there for 7.15. I explained that the tour was booked for eight and there was a general feeling of unease and I admit we all felt a little unwelcome.
When a few of us asked to use the toilet we were told, "just one!" by the girl. We were finally each allowed to use the toilet but told to keep quiet so as not to disturb the band. Things turned a little more polite when we showed them the email with the booked time but the discomfort had settled in.
After all of this I was close to just asking for a refund but as we had all travelled for 45 minutes, I didn't want to waste the evening.
After a little more grumbling about the fact that they would now have to use two boats as apparently 11 was too many we climbed aboard feeling somewhat embarrassed, and were very relieved to find our previous host Miguel climbing aboard one of the boats.
As we travelled down the moonlight river Miguel (whom I was lucky enough to have as host of my boat) explained that he would get a little way in before telling us the ghost stories.
Five minutes later Miguel, using a long pole to propel his punting boat along the river, began his tales and the previous discomfort slipped away.
We heard stories of WW2 soldiers meeting scarfaced apparitions, accused witches meeting their ends in the dark swirling waters beneath us and the hideous Jenny Greenteeth luring victims down into the water to meet their ends.
At the halfway point Miguel's pole became stuck in the mud and we drifted along helpless and laughing until he pulled himself back with branches to retrieve it, making jokes the entire time.
We made a u-turn a little way out of the lights of the city and slowly made our way back and at this point Miguel asked us if we had any personal stories of ghostly incidents.
The only one that came to mind was a day in which I thought I had seen an old friend who had died a week previous among a group of people. Thinking I had been mistaken on that day, I  had returned to my caricature pitch only to feel a tap on the shoulder. It was his wife.
When we returned the awkwardness of earlier was all gone and we walked away thanking them for a lovely evening.
If you're after an amazing evening I would highly recommend the Canterbury Punting Tours.
I would however add a note of caution with a few pieces of advice:

1. Make sure several times that you have confirmed the times and amount of people.
2. Ask for Miguel and accept no substitutes.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

No more commissions for now! Sorry!

My work as a cartoonist/caricaturist can be pretty diverse and the projects that come my way are varied and exciting.
I regularly attend events drawing live caricatures which is always great fun and from time to time I have drawn commission based pieces for customers.
Lately I have been taking on various illustration projects too, from the cover of The Slipkin Papers (find it on Amazon- great book) to the @b0ringtweets vs @rickygervais project I have recently been working on, right through to some book illustration projects that are still ongoing.
The problem with taking on all of these jobs is that some things have to take a back burner to make room for others.
It is for this reason that regretfully I will not be taking on any more commissions until further notice. The commissions take up a great deal of time what with changes and tweaks, and for this reason are not really financially viable. I could put prices up but wouldn't want to be charging over the odds.
You can still hire me for events, I attend many of these and the pictures always go down well.
Apologies peeps, I'm not saying never again, just not for the time being.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

@rickygervais vs @b0ringtweets

There are few bloggers out there that blog as little as me, and most 'guides to blogging' will tell you never to mention how rarely you do so. There's a mistake right away then.. bugger.
But some blogs are like a machine that give the reader tons to read about a chosen subject, and one of those that I am now a little involved in is

A few weeks back I was approached on twitter by @GervaisFanArt regarding the hilarious conversations between Ricky Gervais and a truly fascinating chap under the twitter name of @b0ringtweets. I had followed a few of these conversations and so was honoured to be asked to create doodles to go along with the characters. Gervais fan art have compiled these conversations in a very funny weekly blog which can promise conversations of the wonders of a Boots store card and the excitement of the Samsung SGH A300 to name a few!

I am told this blog has received quite a following and so look forward to doodling more for GervaisFanArt, Ricky and our Meticulous Hero as time goes on.

For those interested, here's Ricky talking about @b0ringtweets and @GervaisFanArt in a radio interview...

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Feeling Stirred not Shaken

So I'm just recovering from an absurdly busy weekend which started with a wedding in Essex, followed by a corporate gig in London with a whole army of caricaturists and magicians, then the true insanity that was the Detling Wedding Show (I promise I shall respond to all those emails very soon) and ending in a trip to Birmingham for a hugely entertaining gig last night.
It's not often I venture up that far, but I truly love a 'road trip gig' and this one proved well worth the journey. I visited the hotel that would be playing host to the good people of VitrA earlier in the day to get my bearings, but I had no idea how amazing the bond themed extravaganza would pan out that evening.
The genius that is Jason Southard and his team at had put on an amazing show that I was truly proud to be a part of, featuring casino tables, a mind reader, no end of giant Bond props and even a couple of Bond girls wandering around. Plus of course, there was me, a character maybe a little more Mr Bean than Mr Bond but I had a whale of a time nonetheless.
It was an amazing crowd too, I actually drew so many pictures that when I departed I only had three sheets of paper left.
I always thank my lucky stars for this amazing job and last night rates up there with the best of them. Once the RSI in my hand has eased up I shall look forward to more like that!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Ricky, Derek and a Moustached Tadpole

Around the 21st of February my twitter account (@richnairn for those that do not know) went a little crazy for a few weeks, completely to my surprise.

This was all thanks to Ricky Gervais, not sure if you've heard of him but he's a little known actor and comedian, check his account on twitter (@rickygervais) he could really do with a few more followers. (the poor fella only has 4,192, 062 at the time of typing this blog)

Many of you may know that I like to draw group caricatures of celebrities, from tv shows to movies, if the face works I'll doodle it. So I had produced a little caricature of the stars of Derek, Ricky's latest hilarious and heartwarming creation set in a retirement home.

As always with these doodles, I tweeted it across to Ricky, not really expecting a reply.
Within almost no time at all I had a lovely little reply simply saying, "Great Work!"

It's a simply wonderful thing to receive nice comments about your work, but little was I prepared for the power Ricky's words have. My twitter "interaction" panel went insane. Tweets came through like crazy with all sorts of lovely peeps saying how much they liked my work and this was such a huge boost to my confidence. I began saying thank you to each of them and realised this was a futile task, so opted for broader "I would like to thank everyone.." messages.

I quickly became friends with @tadpole_hitler, a twitter user who runs a Derek fan art site at, who wrote a lovely little article about my work and even was so nice as to put an advert for my site on their home page.

I had originally loved the character of Vicky, played by Holli Dempsey but had not included her in the pic as at the time of drawing it she appeared to be a one episode character. But while I was receiving these comments she appeared in another episode and Holli herself left some lovely tweets about the pic. And so it was destined to be.. Vicky appeared in the picture, along with an ornamental frog.

And the flattery continued. In all my years of caricaturing I've never received such appreciation for my work and it was a truly flattering experience. Just when my head couldn't swell any further I received comments not only from Kerry Godliman who plays Hannah in the series, but also from Charlie Hanson, the series producer.

The whole crazy experience had a great finale for me when I realised a life long dream as I got to work as a caricaturist on the set of a movie.
It just so happened that Mr Gervais was on set too so I left a couple of prints with the crew for him.

To make sure he got it I tweeted,
"@rickygervais there's an A3 copy of the Derek caricature waiting for you somewhere on set, hopefully you'll get it."

and I received the reply.
"@richnairn Got it! Amazing. Thank you."

For a show that references how nice people can be, Derek has sure lived up to it's words.
Thank you everyone for a truly brilliant and flattering few weeks!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Celebrity Group Caricature

Some of you may have noticed I have commenced work on a series of group caricatures of famous tv shows and movies.
There will be more and more of these appearing throughout the year as I have a list to work through.

The idea came from last years Misfits picture which received lots of great comments from the stars.

The first one I drew this year was Red Dwarf X. It was great to see the boys back on our screens so I had to show my appreciation by doodling a picture of them.

I tweeted the first draft to Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and he pointed out that he is the tallest character and I had drawn him the shortest (oops). 30 seconds later I had adjusted it and I tweeted it over to receive a lovely reply saying,

"That is just too damn clever sir, thank you most kindly"

I also hear friend of mine who knows Craig Charles passed a copy onto him and he tells me it was well received.

So next I moved onto my favourite American comedy, "The Big Bang Theory"

I tweeted this one to the stars but I believe they were in middle of receiving awards so not surprised I didn't get any feedback, but I did get lots of great comments from friends and followers so many thanks!

Last week I completed a caricature of my favourite tv show, "Dexter". Lots of great faces to draw.

This one was greatly received by a couple of the stars and friends alike and I was over the moon to receive a message of thanks from David Zayas who plays Angel Batista in the series.

So what's next? I have received a few suggestions and have a few ideas myself.. more to come soon!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Post Apocalyptic New Year

Well here we are, five days into a new year despite the doomgloomers trying to wish disaster upon us all. Now is a quiet time of year for me, a few weddings and parties along with a handful of commissions. January is the manageable month.
This year will be seeing a change in my business, without my wedding to organise I feel more hands on with the caricatures so I'm planning many exciting things to come.
I'm currently working at the Oasthouse Theatre in Rainham, a delightful little theatre that Im signwriting and adding quirky illustrations to. This is obviously in between party and commission work but it is a fun little sideline. It's also entertaining to listen to the actors perform overhead as I paint.
In May I have been asked to entertain at a party celebrating what would have been Peter Cushing's 100th Birthday. I've always been a huge fan of this classic actor, not only for his great performances in classic hammer movies but also for his charm and personality. It is indeed an honour to be involved in this event, I sincerely hope it goes well. I am booked throughout the year at many parties and weddings so am truly looking forward to every one of them. Best of luck brides and grooms, believe me, it's not as scary as you might think.
Mai and I will be moving premises later in the year so I should at last have a study to work in, rather than filing paperwork in a box and illustrating commissions on the dining room table.
So an optimistic start to 2013 I think, let's hope it's justified.