HOW TO ORGANISE A SUCCESSFUL LIVE ILLUSTRATION EVENT

live illustration at La Martina photo Alex Treadway

Creating on-brand creative content in real time, whilst interacting with customers and keeping on top of social media is a real skill. However, what really helps to make a live illustration event a great success on the night is the organisation in the run-up. 

I’ve been illustrating live at events for over 5 years, and am part of the successful collective Live Illustration London. I’ve worked at department stores, festivals, sporting events, VIP launches and at an A-List celebrity gala. I’ve created fashion illustration portraits, window murals, customised packaging (boxes, lipsticks, polo balls), illustrated live on Instagram for a fashion brand and worked on large paintings - all with an audience. I absolutely love working at events, I get a real buzz from it and am really happy to share my thoughts below.

Below are my tips for PRs and brands who want to run a fantastic live illustration event.

 Illustrating for the press launch of Clinique Crayola at Estee Lauder HQ London

Illustrating for the press launch of Clinique Crayola at Estee Lauder HQ London

Firstly, what is live illustration?

Live illustration involves having an artist at an event to create artwork. This artwork may be in the form of fashion illustrations given as gifts, a window painting, a mural, iPad sketching, product customisation or a large painting created just to add some creative flair to a launch.

 A recent 8 minute illustration at a MaxMara event

A recent 8 minute illustration at a MaxMara event

What are the event objectives? 

It’s worth working out why you want a live illustrator and then planning the event well to ensure that your objectives are met.

For example, is your aim to get maximum social media coverage within a short space of time or do you just require an artist there to add a bit of high-end theatre to impress a group of VIPs? Are you trying to attract people to attend your event by featuring a well-known illustrator or are you using their customisation skills as a tool to encourage sales on the day? Once you’ve decided on the right illustrator for your event, it's worth contacting them with your objectives to see what they suggest will work well, based on their previous experience. You can contact me here if you're after some ideas.

window-illustration
hand-painted-window

What is the best way to find an illustrator?

Instagram is a great way to find an illustrator. You can see the quality of an artist's work and any previous experience at live event work. Searching for hashtags such as #liveillustrationlondon #liveillustrator is a good start.

Otherwise look at The AOI website, find an artist you like and to see if they do appearances, or head to Live Illustration London for a range of illustrators who will travel worldwide.

How much budget do you need for a live illustrator?

Live illustrators will charge anything from £125 - £400 per hour plus any expenses. Most have a minimum booking of 3 hours.

There’s always a chance that you will be able to find someone to work for you for a smaller fee, but do consider that they might not be able to help you meet your objectives. Experienced live illustrators will not work for a low fee. It’s a real skill to be able to communicate with guests whilst creating beautiful pieces of artwork.

Divide the hourly rate by the number of illustrations and you’ll see you are receiving original bespoke artworks for a really great price. Please do note that most live illustrators will not work at a price per illustration.

 Illustrations of the Middlesex Cricket Team for Chestertons

Illustrations of the Middlesex Cricket Team for Chestertons

How many postcard artworks can illustrators do per hour?

This depends on the size and style needed, but most illustrators can work on an A5 postcard illustration every 8-10 minutes. Obviously the longer the artist is given the more detail they can add.

Will an artist supply their own materials?

Yes, most artists will supply their own materials. However, I always ask clients to supply paper for me to work on, with their branding on as well as any hashtag info. Generally, I will ask for 300gsm paper, uncoated and A5 size (portrait orientation) for fashion illustrations.

Will the illustrator charge for anything before the event?

If an artist is booked to create work they have done before then they won't charge for anything prior to the event. However, if a client wants a specific design created for the event, or for the artist to work on a new material (like a new branded box) then expect to be charged design time. I charge min £50 per hour for design development work.

I have also on occasions created specific artwork prior to events, these are chargeable separately.

 An artwork created for Clinique for the launch of Clinique Crayola at Selfridges

An artwork created for Clinique for the launch of Clinique Crayola at Selfridges

Where will the artist sit and what should you organise beforehand?

I always ask for a chair and table to be supplied, that allow my feet can touch the floor. Perching on a stool, or standing and drawing is uncomfortable after about 20 minutes and often events will last a few hours.  I’ll also ask for a lamp if the venue is dimly lit.

It's brilliant when there's great signage that clearly explains what is on offer, and includes any social handles or hashtags. When this hasn't happened I've been mistaken for a receptionist or people haven't wanted to disturb me...not the best outcome!

 The best desk ever! Me illustrating for customers in Bentalls Kingston, for Clinique.

The best desk ever! Me illustrating for customers in Bentalls Kingston, for Clinique.

Should the event be advertised?

This depends on your objectives. In my experience the best events have been when the event is well advertised beforehand. Firstly on my Instagram feed (I charge for any posts that advertise the event) but also on the brand’s instagram feed (or in stories), on twitter (more likely to get a twitter RT rather than an instagram repost) and in-store on point of sale posters. I would suggest advertising 2 weeks before the event, and then 3-4 days before.

It’s great at this point to have a hashtag agreed and clear details of the event such as timing / location / and if the illustrations will be complimentary / if it’s possible to book a slot before the event etc.

Can the illustrations be used after the event?

I always make it clear in my agreements that the illustrations are personal gifts only and can’t be used commercially by the customers. Sharing on social media with a credit to the artist is usually fine and I always encourage this.

 Live illustration is a great way to encourage influencers to share details of your event

Live illustration is a great way to encourage influencers to share details of your event

live-illustration

Is a contract required?

It’s great to have all of the details in writing. To cover timings, fee, deliverables and cancellation policy from both sides.

Will the artist need any support at the event?

It’s great to have a point of contact who can either stay with the artist or pop by every 15 minutes. They can help with managing the list of people to illustrate, get the artist some water to drink, share images on social media, talk to guests if the artist is really busy. It’s great if social media posts can be planned before the event starts as time can fly, especially good if the post is already written but just needs an image to go with it (Mosaico is a great app for this). It's also worth deciding prior to the event if you will allow your staff to be illustrated if it's quiet, this isn't up to the artist to decide - it's a brand decision.

live-illustration
 Personalising Christmas decorations at Topshop (Photo  Paul Stringer )

Personalising Christmas decorations at Topshop (Photo Paul Stringer)

 for What should happen after the event?

It’s great to give feedback to the artist about how you found their work at the event, and to ask them if they have any suggestions for you too. I share any good photos I took with the client, and it’s great when they do the same with me. Do always credit the artist in any images that you share. Artists will really appreciate it if you can help to ensure they are paid for the work within agreed timing. 

 

I hope you have found this post useful. Do comment below with any further questions and I will do my best to help.

In the mean time, please follow me on Instagram and read more about my previous clients here. If you're interested in booking me for an event then it's best to drop me an email here.

Many thanks,

 

Niki

@miss_magpie_spy

Cover Photo by Alex Treadway for La Martina