09.06.2014 by Charles Burns
The thing which most struck me after the “Off With Your Head!” speed-cutting contest was just how entertaining it had all been. With Cindi Rose and I cutting back-to-back, silhouettes began filling the room within minutes. Everybody went away with at least one portrait and most got two. Wherever I looked there were people laughing, joking and comparing profiles. I had approached the event with a certain dread, the numbers seemed so impossibly high. When clients ask how many silhouettes I can cut in one hour my usual answer is “about 30”, yet after cutting nearly 150 my main feeling was that I wanted another go! That got me wondering: speed cutting is a lot of fun! Could there be an application for this in the corporate events market?
The secret to such huge numbers is not in the cutting, but in the way the event is organised. Working as a mix-and-mingle entertainer most of my time is not spent cutting silhouettes at all. For every minute spent cutting I may spend another two talking to guests, mounting silhouettes on card, posing for photographs and finding the next volunteer. This is not laziness on my part but an inevitable and integral part of the process. At the Audi showroom in Houston I stood at a table with a queue of willing subjects, a trained assistant whom I knew could keep up with me and an MC telling people to get in line. The result was that for every minute spent cutting I probably waited just 2 or 3 seconds for people to change places.
Could such an arrangement work at a conference reception here in the UK? Even without trying to set any world records I now realise that two artists placed in the middle of a room, cutting 30-second one-line silhouettes, with a team of assistants to help in crowd control and mounting, can cut their way through 200 to 250 guests in a single hour – all done before the bell tolls for dinner! If this is something which might work at an event you are organising please do get in touch. It would be great to chat and talk through what’s involved, it is a radically different way to approach the art. Who knows, we might even bring an unofficial world record to your next event…