Who are you?!
I'm Alfie Deliss - Mr Sketchum is my stage name...although I don't take to the stage, as it were. Born and raised in South Kensington (someone had to be), I went to the French Lycée there, then studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design (click here for student work).

What do you actually do?
I'm an entertainer at social events such as parties, weddings, corporate do's, that sort of thing - all over the UK but mainly in London. I draw cartoon portraits at "accelerated lightning speed" (the velocity of lightning boltswithout the zigzags).

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" from the headmaster for doing a comic strip that depicted our maths teacher Mr Tagariste ("Taga") angrily blinding the fidgety pupils at the back of the class by throwing chalk, and decapitating the front row with a steel rule.

Does art run in the family?

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

  

My Parisian mother, Michèle Deliss, was a dress designer who had a fabulous boutique in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, in the sixties and early seventies. She would sketch fluid, amazingly 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 come from a long line 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 - that said I can do some faster
- especially if the subjects have lucky faces. 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 smaller "schoolyard" sketches that are instantly recognisable and can be hilarious, precisely because they are so bare-boned.

   

What size do you work and which materials do you use?
I usually sketch A4 size but I'm perfectly happy to work larger or smaller. I use a black ink felt-tip "brushpen" with a grey wash mid-tone on 200gsm laser paper/card. Brushpens taper to a fine tip (just as an artist's paintbrush does), meaning that with one pen you can achieve satisfyingly fluid variations in line width, from eye-catching fats to delicate thins.

What are your influences?

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

Where are you based?
Central 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 - please check my pricing page - it should have all the information you need. If not, do feel free to ask.

Do you enjoy your work?
Yes, managing to survive by drawing is something of a miracle. 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 ~

   

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Text and images copyright © Alfie Deliss/Mr Sketchum 1999~2015 ~ All rights reserved.