Live Illustration – Top Tips for the best event


If you are planning a live illustration event to add a buzz to your social media, it’s important before you spend the money that you plan the event the correct way, which includes hiring the right live illustrator. Look no further for the crucial guide to planning an amazing live illustration event for in-store special days, press days, corporate parties and much more. Careful planning and picking the right artist makes the difference between a great event and a mediocre event. I have provided live illustration for big names such as Harrods, Selfridges, Juicy Couture, Wella and Oasis to name a few. Here are my top tips from my wealth of experience, on how to throw the best live illustration event.

Live illustration London

Live Illustration at Juicy Couture, London

Number 1 – Book a live illustrator as early as you can.

It sounds obvious, but as soon as you have a solid date, you should start researching to book an illustrator. Live illustrators are in demand, so if you don’t leave enough time, you may find that the best illustrators are already booked up. Go ahead and google live illustration, or live illustration London, and plenty of illustrators will pop up. Any live illustrator worth their salt should have a live illustration section on their website with photographs of their work.

Number 2 – Pick an illustrator who’s style suits your brand.

There is no point picking an illustrator for example that has a very young and child like style for a very sophisticated brand, and vice verse. Have a look at each illustrator’s website carefully, particularly their live illustration section and see if their style matches your brand. Is their style young, sophisticated, street, pretty, or edgy? Choose an illustrator who’s style can really represent what your company is about. Do you want full length fashion figures drawn or portraits? Hire someone who has the right experience for your event.

Number 3 – Provide the right setting.

If you are planning an event and you want a live illustrator there, it’s important that you make sure you have the right lighting and furniture at the venue. Make sure the illustrator is being placed in an area where there is decent light to draw, and not in some dark corner. The better they can see to draw, the better the illustration they will produce for you. It’s also important to provide a large enough desk and chair. Make sure the desk is large enough to place paints and pens on, and the cards to illustrate on. Make sure the chair and the table are the correct height to go together. It will make for an uncomfortable evening if the chair is very high for example and the table is very low. If space is a real problem at the venue, some illustrators will bring their own drawing boards and prop them on their knee whilst they sketch, but most would prefer to have a good size table to work comfortably at. Of course if you are hiring a roving illustrator that walks around drawing party guests, that’s another matter. It’s always best to check out the artists desk needs before the event.

Number 4 – Realize that you need three hours minimum.

I have seen people swear blind they only need an illustrator for two hours, for the party to then run over by one or two hours. For most events, the minimum amount of time an illustrator will need to be drawing for, to make an impact is three hours. Most companies book someone for four hours. If you need someone for an entire day, most live illustrators will need the normal tea and lunch breaks as it gets very tiring illustrating. Six hours is probably the longest an event can go on for before an illustrator really does start to feel fatigue. Most live illustrators will charge by the hour anyway if an event runs over so it’s best to estimate sensibly. Most illustrators will arrive an hour or half an hour early to set up properly and warm up.

Number 5 – Choose your setting well.

If you are going to spend money on a live illustrator you want them to be really easy to spot in your store. Hiding them away at the back is not a good idea. Also, putting a live illustrator in the changing room is a bad idea. People trying on clothes in a mission to find the perfect outfit are not in the mood to be stopped and drawn! Near the front of the store or by the tills is a good place to put an illustrator.

Number 6 – Promote your event on social media.

It’s no good paying lots to hire a live illustrator for a special event if you don’t tell anyone about it in advance. Post, post and post again, in the few days leading up to the event, on all of your social media outlets.

Number 7 – Use signage.

The best and most successful events have a sign outside the shop advertising that there is a live illustrator in store. Make sure you state that the illustrations are free or complimentary clearly on the sign. It’s surprising how many customers think there is a charge for the live illustrations, so they hold back from coming forward to get one done. More large signage is good behind the desk on the wall, and also a small sign on the desk is good so people know immediately what is going on.

Number 8 – Encourage customers to share on their social media.

Offer a prize, like a gift card, in exchange for customers sharing their illustration on their social media under a specific hash- tag. That way you are sure to maximize the publicity of your event, and get the most social media activity you can out of it.

Number 9 – Have a team member take photographs.

It’s important to delegate a staff member from the media department to record the event and take photographs and videos. These can be used on your company’s social media or blog and are a great record of the event. Most customers really like having their photograph taken at the end of their illustration sitting, as it makes them feel even more special.

Number 10 – Take part in a special event day.

If you hold your event on a day where there is a neighborhood street party or festival happening, or a fashion day, then you are guaranteed a really busy event! Research when there are major events happening in the areas where your stores are located and have a live illustrator booked in conjunction with the event. A really busy event means lots of extra publicity for your brand. Be novel with your live illustration ideas too. For example, if a customer tries on a specific hat or sunglasses, they can get an illustration of themselves wearing said sunglasses. Come up with some great live illustration ideas. A good illustrator can give you tips on ideas and help you brainstorm in advance. Or you could team up or collaborate with another complimentary organisation like a museum or exhibition.

Number 11 – Brief your sales staff.

Believe it or not, your sales staff can make or break a live event. They should be briefed on telling every customer that walks by that there is a live illustrator present providing free illustrations and encouraging them to get one done. Other staff members should be briefed on helping manage the queue if it gets busy, and making sure people are not confused as to who goes next. If this is left to the illustrator, then valuable time gets lost when the sales staff could be organizing this. There is nothing worse than paying out for a talented live illustrator if the sales staff are not enthusiastic about it and are not pushing the event, or telling customers all about it whenever they can.

Number 12 – Snacks and music help.

The best events have complimentary drinks,nibbles and music to create a really fun party atmosphere. If you can’t afford a live band, make sure that you have a good music system playing great tunes fairly loud. There is nothing worse than people lining up to be illustrated in an atmosphere that feels like a public library! Customers love the party atmosphere of having drinks and nibbles and getting a fun drawing done! Have a quick peak at some of my photos of some great events I have been involved in.

Live illustration London

My live illustration desk at Folli Follie.

live illustration London

An excited staff member at Harrods.

live illustration London

Men like to be illustrated too! At Carven, London.

Live illustration London

My live illustration desk at Carven, London.

live illustration London

Here’s me live illustrating at Oasis.

live illustration London

A happy customer at Walter and Herbert, London.

live illustration London

One of my live illustrations for Juicy Couture.

live illustration London

One of my live illustrations for Links of London.

Do you need to hire a live illustrator?

Are you thinking of planning a live illustration event? I have lots and lots of experience working for many high end and high street brands at many different events. People hire live illustrators for special in-store events, for special days such as Mother’s Day, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, for corporate parties, weddings or private parties. If you would like to check out what I offer, please have a look at my live illustration services page. Or why not have a browse through my live illustration portfolio. Just follow the tips above and you will have an amazing event that will send your social media crazy!




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