A row of caricatures by Charles Burns

Caricature Silhouettes

ONE OF THE FREEDOMS in working at events is the chance to make silhouette caricatures. Charles loves these lively and ridiculous cuttings. With their large heads and tiny bodies they poke fun at the guests but have never been known to offend.

If you’re thinking about booking a caricaturist for an event, then this is something to think about. Each cutting takes no more than two minutes, often less, so huge numbers are possible. Silhouette caricatures work well at student balls, Christmas parties and any standing event where guests are determined to have a good time. These paper-cuttings involve everybody.

Young woman holding a caricature silhouette
“What I most admire is that you come across as enjoying every minute of it and at the same time you take it so seriously”


What is a caricature?

Charles’ caricatures are cut freehand from black paper with scissors. They consist of a full-length body with an over-exaggerated head. Charles encourages the guests to challenge him  by striking hard-to-cut poses, but sometimes the guests end up challenging themselves. Although each cutting only takes a couple of minutes it can seem a long time if the pose is too hard to hold!

Deciding how to pose is an interactive experience for both artist and guest.

Caricatures at a student ball
Guests enjoy challenging Charles with hard-to-cut poses!

In his short but brilliant career as a graphic artist AUBREY BEARDSLEY seems to have made just one portrait silhouette.

This caricatured self-portrait, possibly painted in a capricious moment, was the starting point for Charles’ search for a reliable method of cutting silhouette caricatures.

Read more

Are these traditional silhouettes?

No, silhouette caricatures are not traditional! If tradition is your thing, then these are not for you. However, they are unique, very few silhouettists can create a convincing likeness this way. The speed and ease with which Charles cuts them belies the technical expertise required. If you’re booking either Charles or Michael to attend a drinks reception you can ask them to work in caricature. Even if you don’t ask, they may cut a few anyway, just because they’re so much fun!

Caricature silhouettes in colour
Since we’re breaking with tradition, why stop at caricature?
Ask Charles to bring coloured paper and each guest can be cut in a different colour!

“Thanks again, Roving Artist, you were an unexpected, wonderfully fun addition to our London visit!!”

Joan D (on Facebook)

Caricature of man with glass and question mark

“Caricatures? Bah! Ask me!”