A Guy Walks Into A Bar -Continued…

STROLLING CARICATURES IN BARS… -THE SUBJECT AT HAND-. GETTING STARTED.

I WANT TO TEACH YOU ALL WHAT I HAVE LEARNED ABOUT STROLLING, aka, WALKAROUND BUSKING- the variety of venues available to do this in, tricks to help you improve your take once you have decided to give it a try, and the details of the successful methods that have worked with me and the artists that have worked with me in the past while doing this under my tutelage… SPECIFICALLY- busking creative performance entertainment (in my case caricatures) in bars.

Strolling busking is just what it sounds like and what I have described before, except you are roaming and barking at people and doing your thing without a net in large crowds of stupid people. It is “extreme busking”, “guerilla busking” or “Para-busking” because you are taking a huge risk doing it!! You are getting out there in front of God and everybody and having a blast, doing something fun and unique among other people who are having fun and still getting paid to do it! The “pitch” may be a bar, a restaurant, a mall, a cocktail party, a parking lot tailgate party, an outdoor concert, a street development promotion, a boardwalk, an intersection, a crowd of people, etc… mostly on private property, sometimes on public, most of the time when there is SOMETHING going on, but still totally fantastic… Strolling artists can go pretty much anywhere, any time and sometimes they get PAID FULL PRICE to work at a gig where they can also BUSK. Hows that for an incentive to do the best artwork you can??!!

Specifically this book is geared toward doing caricatures or quick sketch cartoons of people for tips but it may also be useful as a jumping off point for doing other novelty type “performances”, one on one, close up entertainment services where a creative souvenir is exchanged -including face/body painting, balloon twisting, hair wraps and henna tattoos (and FTR, I would love to hear what other types of performers it has successfully given aid to).

This manual may also be helpful to those full time gig entertainers who are already comfortable strolling in cafes and restaurants doing close up caricatures, magic, balloons, comedy, hypnosis, etc… to try to pick up extra gigs during the week. As is the case with most ingenious art forms, creativity breeds strange animals that are not easy to categorize. If this is the case of your particular act, let me say that this manual may be helpful if you A) have a minimum of props/tools that you need to perform your act and B) if your act is performed close up, one on one or smaller groups and C) you ask for an individual or group tip at the completion of the act and lastly D) if your act is appropriate and safe to perform in close quarters or large crowds of moving people on public or private property inside or out, day or night, adult or family friendly. Yup. This is a niche that covers a lot of territory, so put your thing down and give this opportunity a run for the money. I’ d love to hear how this info has been transformative to my readers. (and how it has effected your success in gathering loot)

There are definite tricks, hustles, dos and don’ts that are generally practiced by most buskers world wide. In this book I will describe in great detail how to maximize your freedom, income, time and fun while keeping safe and out of trouble in the USA! I hope you find it useful! Here goes!!

1992. THE SUMMER OF LOVE!

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Mr. And Mrs. Pate

Mr. And Mrs. Pate!

Even though AIP was open year round, I wanted to have a summer to go work back home if possible. I had a really tough time finding work as it turned out. I called and stopped by places I had always been interested in working when I was a kid and found nothing for the first couple of weeks. I eventually found some work working at the Christmas store in the bottom of Grandpa’s Cheesebarn that is owned by the Goshinski family in Ashland near Fin Feather and Fur Outfitters (better known as the Ashland Mall). I worked with some very nice ladies but the Christmas thing really got to me.

I endured listening to Alvin and the Chipmonks’ Christmas album about 100 times a day and if it wasn’t that, it was a Disney music album (featuring It’s A Small World After All). Needless to say, I was happy to have an opportunity to draw caricatures here and there…

On my days off I visited some friends of mine that were working at Camp Mowana where I had worked the previous summer. (AIP let out too late for me to get a job there again like I had hoped- funnest job ever, BTW…) I also spent some time with a good friend of mine from high school, hanging out at the college she went to, driving out to Fowler’s woods late at night and having lots of fun but somehow managing to stay out of trouble… I booked some fairs and festivals and one of the first ones I worked at was the Perrysville Street fair.

I was set up in a pole barn off the main street in Perrysville. It was kind of a smallish fair but they had a parade and a car show so it was pretty fun. Set up about a block from where I was sitting was a pretty girl with a 1969 Ford Mustang convertible that WNCO, the local country radio station, was giving away for free to a lucky listener who signed up to win it during the summer. I wasn’t a country fan by any means, but during a slow time when I had gotten up to go look around I stopped by and signed up to win it and chatted for a minute with the DJ chick who was there with the car. Her name was Stacie Thompson. I told her she should let me draw her later, and so she did.

After a little while, as promised, Ms. Thompson came over to see what I was doing and to let me draw her there at my ‘booth’, which was a couple of the old school nylon and aluminum folding chairs, a milk crate, a jam box and some pens and paper. (I think I had tossed the easel by then) I was sitting there listening to the Depeche Mode and eating some funnel cake with my high school friend Amira, who had come with me. I offered some to Stacie and she took it.

She made it a point to tell us that she knew who Depeche Mode was and that she wasn’t in to country music at all, which I thought was interesting because you know, she was the DJ at the country station and stuff. She clued us in that she was the DJ on the weekends and that she would be on later that night and if we wanted to check her out, but she also DJ’ed at the local college station in Oberlin and that she liked punk and metal, so we talked about music for a while, then other festivals we had gone to, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Ashland, New London, Mansfield, College, this and that and the other thing… There were some awkward moments there in that first conversation to be sure, but somehow we established that A. we liked each other, and B. that I was not dating my very attractive friend and was in fact single so we exchanged numbers and made a date to talk some time later on the phone. I listened to her on the radio that night and thought that was pretty cool and that she had a very sweet voice.

The following weekend she asked me to go with her to take the NCO car to a car show at the local speedway in Mansfield. (she was going to take her dad but thankfully decided to take me instead) I met her at the station and we drove the car over together, hung out, I did a few caricatures and we talked for hours and had a blast. I kissed her there in the garage at the radio station before she went to work -and that was it! That was the first time I kissed my future wife and the future mother of my child!

I know I’m going to hear how I got it all wrong now as soon as she reads this, but that’s the gist of what I remember, lol! What a great summer!

Copyright Adam Pate 2013. All rights reserved.

Drawing Some Kids Today At a Gig…

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Had a gig in Iowa today. Very busy. Near the end of the day when the line had gone down considerably I finally got to try out my new camera. The audio is messed up but the picture quality is way better than I had hoped for.

Thought for the day: Most people were taught how a line works when they were in kindergarten or earlier. When adults crowd in line it is beyond aggravating, especially when they throw a tantrum and cause a scene when you call them on it. This is nothing short of bullying and I will not tolerate it.

Popping the Freelance Cherry!

The Art Institute Sept. 1991- Mar. ‘94

When I was at AIP. I went almost a full year before entering their free lance program. I had heard about it but was preoccupied with other things. (Many of them school related!)

I was very good in school and fit right in with the other students. In fact, I was probably a little nerdy to most of them. There was a smoking lounge were people hung out between (but mostly during classes) and I (who smoked at pipe or cigars) began smoking cigarettes and finding reasons to cut class and play hacky sack or go to Corleones for pizza and beer with my classmates.

Fun Fact: One of my classes was called College 101. The gist of the class was to inform the students of random things like how to get around PGH, how to budget money for food (and recreation…) how to get a job, etc… One day the teacher spent a full class doing the math on the chalk board so that we would understand how valuable our time was at school. As it happens, I found out that that class, that day in 1991 would cost me $650. Yea math!

I had money from graduation and didn’t spend a lot at a time, (mostly it went to my Chinese food addiction a couple of times a week) but I did get a job right away. I worked at the Giant Eagle near Allegheny Center, where I lived. I lived on the 6th floor with most of my Visual Communications classmates. These towers were not ‘dorms’ per se, but they were the recommended facilities for most AIP students at the time. Although alcohol was discouraged in the building, it was a giant party tower, so any day when I got home from school, all I had to do was grab a sandwich and go to somebody else’s room hang out to eat it and drink booze. I had no trouble getting served or purchasing alcohol at any of the stores around AC so there was almost always alcohol involved in whatever I did after school. Yes, I did some rather stupid things…

Eventually this routine got boring and the few times that I had tried drawing caricatures at school events or on the street were disappointing. I had heard about the freelance program and went down to the school office to find out what it was all about. They asked me to do a few sample drawings and a brief list of my accomplishments. I had never drawn at a gig before so I was ready to get started and glad to have a new preoccupation.

How it worked was, AIP would take a call for a request for an artist and quote them a price, or take an offer. When the artist would go into the office, the office would take out a folder full of requests and show them what gigs were available. If an artist kept on his toes, he could be the first to hear of a gig and usually got it… When a gig peaked the artist’s interest, the artist would sign off on the gig and take down the information. I don’t think the office took a cut of the artist’s earnings for their trouble at that time. They had all sorts of offers, not just caricature gigs. I did some of my first paid graphic design work through the freelance program at AIP as well. Some were for ‘exposure’ and I learned quickly how things worked…

I don’t remember the specifics, but I think the first actual caricature gig I did was for an older student who was graduating soon. He sent in a request to AIP for newbies to draw at a prom for him about an hour away from Downtown… Luckily there was another artist who was also booked for it and he had a car. (I didn’t even have a bike at the time) We drove to the event, worked in tandem and it was a blast.

I was pleased to get my first ever caricature that night from the other artist I worked with as well as my first check for drawing at a party.

I doubt if any of the artwork either of us did was kept. It was surely pretty bad… (people didn’t call AIP to get a cheap newbie artist because they wanted to best available…) but I had popped my cherry!! I also learned a valuable lesson that day… Turns out, for working a 3 hour gig I made $100, the other artist made $100 and the older guy who had hired us through AIP (who did not go to the gig) made $100. Although I was happy to have the work, I thought his commission was a bit excessive so I told him so next time I saw him. Though asked to, I never worked with him again and I am still proud I told him so. (The normal commission percentage for an agent is 25%)

Copyright Adam Pate 2013, all rights reserved.

A Guy Walks Into a Bar (Continued)

STROLLING CAFE BUSKING

Café busking is a little like walk by busking but on private property. Generally you set up in a corner of a bar, restaurant or outdoor mall type area after getting permission from the business/property owner and you wait for people to come up to you to get drawn. (musicians can play and hope that somebody comes up to tip them for a request, like an open mic night). This is a popular request also from the establishment owner so they may seek you out and actually offer you an hourly wage or stipend if you’re lucky- or rather if you INSIST on it…

Most of the birthday party type entertainers I know in my local area drum up about 60% of their business by cafe busking. The management pays them a low weekly rate (about a quarter of their hourly rate) plus whatever tips they can make and a free meal (free is good), to come into the establishment on a regular basis and go table to table to entertain kids. It is a commitment however. the establishment may advertise your appearances and you may leave promotional information laying around. It may be a problem if it would be difficult for you to do it every week on the same night and time. For one thing, you may be giving up some work you can charge full price for in order to honor your commitment. If that were the case, you may have to have another entertainer to cover you sometimes, and pay them what they want in order to keep the commitment to the establishment. Remember, the other entertainer does not have an agreement to work for 25% of their hourly rate for a set amount of time so after a few times of doing this it might be hard to find a make up entertainer.

The idea is to bring the walk-by busker into the establishment to add atmosphere to the room. While this certainly does add charm to the establishment, it often happens that it is at the expense of the busker as traditional barking to get people to come sit for you would be inappropriate in this situation, for what the management has in mind, so if you’re not busy then you’re stuck there in a corner of a boring bar doing nothing and you’d be stuck in that one location.

If it’s OK with the management, you might try going from table to table and asking people to come sit for you in the corner if you sit there for too long. This starts my next topic though… You might be able to dress up a little and have a drink or two and you will for sure make way better tips than you would have on the street and not have to worry about as many of the “hassles” that they go through, but it is still very difficult to keep busy and make money this way. You are at the mercy of the bar. If you haven’t played your hand right, the bar owner may also want you to give him a cut of your earnings and also require you to not go to any competing establishments which is the last thing you want. Most of the positives cross over into the next section- STROLLING!

I WANT TO TEACH YOU ABOUT STROLLING, aka, WALKAROUND BUSKING, specifically in bars and restaurants. Strolling busking is just what it sounds like. YOU ARE MOBILE. The “pitch” may be a bar, a restaurant, a mall, a cocktail party, a parking lot, an outdoor concert, a street, a boardwalk, an intersection, a crowd of people anywhere, etc… mosltly on private property, sometimes on public. Strolling artists can go pretty much anywhere and sometimes they get PAID FULL PRICE to work at a gig where they are very likely to get tipped well!!

(Copyright, Adam Pate 2013. All rights reserved)