Who are you?
I'm Alfie Deliss - Mr Sketchum is the stage name that I use..although I don't actually get up on stages. Born and raised in South Kensington, I did a ten-year stretch at the French Lycée there, then studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design (click here for caricatures of the tutors).

What do you do?
I get booked to entertain guests at social gatherings like parties, weddings, corporate do's, that sort of thing - all over the UK but mainly in London, and very occasionally abroad. I draw 'cartoon portraits' at accelerated lightning speed (the velocity of lightning boltswithout the zigzags) and give them away free to guests as I go along. I'm busiest in summer at weddings, and in December doing Christmas party caricatures.

How long have you been doing this?
I went freelance in 1999, but sketched caricatures long before. When I was about eleven I got sent to receive an "engueulade" (that's French for a b*ll*cking) from the headmaster for doing a comic strip that depicted our maths teacher Monsieur Tagariste ("Taga") blinding the fidgety pupils at the back of the class by angrily throwing chalk at them, and decapitating the front row with a swoosh of his steel rule.

Does art run in the family?

My grandfather Leo Delitz was a Viennese I suppose what you might call an "elevated society" (!) portrait painter. When the Nazis came along with their message of peace and love, the family weren't quite convinced, and so left Austria to it and came to London. My father & his brother joined the British Army and in case they were captured & shot for treason (!) took on the name Deliss when they volunteered for the Glider Pilot Regiment.

  

My Parisian mother, Michèle Deliss, was a designer who had a fabulous dress shop in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, in the sixties and early seventies. She would sketch fluid, graceful designs with a black (Tempo) felt-tip on sheets of typing paper, one after the other, which (in some ways at least - she made the heads smaller!) is ostensibly similar to what I do now.

    

I'm on the frayed edge of a long string of wayward artistic eccentrics. My cousin Max is a highly regarded post-bohemian restorer of sometimes esoteric Renaissance masters, and my big sister Clémentine is an art practice theorist, curator and publisher.

Do guests have to pose?

They can if they like, but for me encouraging them to interact works better. I work fast and fortunately people seem to find me funny so they - literally - get drawn into the situation; if guests are relaxed, chatting and having fun they're far more likely to reveal positive and often funny or quirky aspects of their natural selves, which is what I try to capture.

How long does each portrait take?
Five minutes is average average - that said I can do some faster.
Sketching more than one person per page speeds things up even more. If, in a relatively informal situation, a group tells me to draw everyone, to expedite and comply (to give them exactly what they want and to not offend by refusal..!), I do super-quick, smaller "schoolyard" sketches that are instantly recognisable and can be hilarious precisely because they are so bare-boned.

   

What size do you work & which materials do you use?
I never use invisible ink because you never know when you've run out, just as it's impossible to tell when bagpipes need tuning,.

I usually sketch A4 size but I'm perfectly happy to work larger or smaller. I use felt-tip "brushpens" with  black and grey inks on heavy laser paper/card. Brushpens bend and taper to a fine tip (just as an artist's paintbrush does), meaning that with one pen you can get many variations in line.

What are your influences?

I like the work of Phil May, André Franquin, Reiser, Wolinski, Spy, Tintoretto, Honoré Daumier, Dave the Chimp, Mr Wim, James Gillray, John Tenniel, Paul Moyse, Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Peter Brookes & Dave Brown, John Singer Sargent, Henry Tonks, Elzie Segar (creator of Popeye), Gilbert Shelton, John Hölmstrom, Ralph Steadman & Gerald Scarfe, Steve Ditko, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Jack Kirby, Robert Crumb, Gotlib, Tex Avery, Milt Kahl, David Low...there's more, but my mind's suddenly gone blank!

    

Where are you based?
Central-ish London, but Mr
Sketchum takes my Thermos and I all across the UK, and occasionally beyond. I'm all over the place!

Do we get to keep the drawings?
Naturally! Guests receive a souvenir of the event which is more them than they are, free of charge, and which will make them either smile or wince for years to come.

 

How much is it to book you and how do we go about it?

The going rate, and booking is simple - fill in the form below & I'll ping a quote off to you. You can also  check my booking info. page - it should have all the information you need - if not, do feel free to ask. In any case, my fee includes all materials and there's no charge whatsoever to guests or per sketch. It's hard enough drawing people without having to get money out of them as well!

Do you enjoy your work?
Yes, surviving by drawing alone is something of a miracle, and my mother used to (dryly) say of me ~ "He's okay when he's drawing"!

  

For availability and prices, please use the form below (and if you're emailing, please try to supply the details as indicated on the form).

07719 262736 ~ alfie@sketchum.co.uk

 

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Fluent French & German spoken here

  

     

 

Website by London & UK caricaturist Mr Sketchum
Text and images copyright © Alfie Deliss/Mr Sketchum ~ All rights reserved.