How to Start a Caricature Business

Whether at an art fair, business convention, or community event, caricatures are a fun way to lighten the mood and get people to laugh at themselves. Caricatures are spontaneous illustrations that exaggerate or “cartoonize” the individual’s features. Initially, this artistic expression was simply done on ink and paper. The tradition has now grown to include digital illustrations, with a variety of printing options available.

Learn how to start your own Caricature Business and whether it is the right fit for you.

Start a caricature business by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your caricature business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a caricature business?

One of the many benefits to choosing this as a career path, is that there are very few start-up costs. Business is generally conducted at events, making this a primarily mobile business. Unless you so choose, there is no need for a dedicated office. Many caricature artists now work with clients across the world, selling their digital pieces, so it is recommended that you create a workspace at home, if at all possible.

In addition to artist supplies, it is recommended that you have a simple website built. This is a great opportunity to showcase your work, attracting clients from all over the world. There are a number of options for entrepreneurs who wish to build their own, free websites. Work with a licensed professional to ensure your insurance policies are up-to-date and include any necessary coverages. Since much of your business will be mobile, make sure you have reliable transportation and an insurance policy that will provide coverage should something happen while you are on the road.

What are the ongoing expenses for a caricature business?

Ongoing expenses for a caricature artist business are minimal. Art supplies, website maintenance, and marketing materials should be budgeted for on a monthly basis. Travel expenses, even when only taking on local events, will likely be your largest expense. Should you decide to hire employees, be sure to consider the costs associated with payroll.

Who is the target market?

The earliest recorded caricature art was found in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, indicating that this art form has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. Intended to lighten the mood and bring smiles, caricature artists are hired to “perform” in settings ranging from carnivals to weddings and other social functions. When devising your marketing strategy, consider what social functions your art could be most enjoyed.

How does a caricature business make money?

Clients hire caricature artists either by the hour or per person. Fees also vary depending upon materials, such as black and white, color, and digital works.

How much can you charge customers?

Caricature artist businesses charge an average of $150 to $250 per hour, depending upon whether the customer requests regular or digital caricatures.

How much profit can a caricature business make?

Experienced caricature artist business owners indicate that artists with average speed and skill can bring in up to $600 per day. If you are able to work three events a week, at $600 per event, your business would generate a revenue of over $93,000. Subtract ongoing expenses from this figure and you have a significant profit, particularly for only working three days a week.

How can you make your business more profitable?

As a caricature artist, your business can charge a higher fee for digital work. This method also expands your potential client base, allowing you to reach a much broader audience. Once your work is more well-known, consider approaching syndication companies who might want to feature your work in upcoming newspaper space and want caricature artists who attract subscribers.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. If you don’t have a name in mind already, read our detailed guide on how to name a business or get some help brainstorming a name with our Caricature Business Name Generator.

Then, when registering a business name we recommend checking if the business name is available in your state, federally by doing a trademark search, searching the web, and making sure the name you choose is available as a web domain to secure it early so no one else can take it.

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account ( Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

STEP 2: Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your caricature business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.

You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a caricature business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A caricature business is generally run out of a booth or kiosk. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a caricature business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your caricature business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get Business Insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

Recommended: Learn what business insurance for your Caricature Business will cost.

Business Insurance for
Caricature Business

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

How to promote & market a caricature business

Many successful caricature artists get their start working at a fair or carnival. While the initial income is fairly low, $8.50 - $10 per hour, the real world experience and networking connections made will prove invaluable. The art community is tightly knit, so these connections and the reputation you stand to built will set you up for a lucrative career. Aspiring caricaturists are also urged to take an active role in various associations, such as National Cartoonists Society, The International Society of Caricaturist Artists, and The National Caricaturist Network. These associations are not only a great networking tool, many of them offer members an opportunity to showcase their work and list artist services in their online directory.

Your marketing strategy should include both online and in-person actions. Online image directories and book and magazine publishers are an effective way to showcase your work. Social media and a personal blog are other powerful ways to reach a broader audience. On a local level, consider approaching wedding planners, party planners, and large hotels that host conventions. Ask them to keep you in mind for any upcoming social functions. Galleries, design firms, book and magazine publishers, and advertising agencies could also prove to be lucrative partners.

How to keep customers coming back

In this industry, customer retention comes down to one thing: consistent quality work. Build a reputation as a talented and personable caricature artist and your career will flourish.

STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Start A Caricature Business In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Artistically inclined individuals who possess the drive and tenacity to manage their own stable business would be best suited for this business venture. As a caricature business owner, you must be both creative and business savvy, making critical financial and marketing decisions that will help your organization sustain long-term growth.

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Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

Entrepreneurship Quiz

What happens during a typical day at a caricature business?

Until your business has realized significant growth, your days will be split between administrative and artistic work. When not creating caricatures for a client or attending events, there are emails to be answered, invoices to be dispersed, and client bookings to attend to. While much of your marketing strategy and networking will be hands-on, it will also be necessary for you to promote your business, both in-person and online, ensuring your work reaches a broad audience.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful caricature business?

The most obvious skill a caricature artist must possess, is artistic talent. Caricatures, however, go beyond just drawing a picture. While the final work will be “cartoonish,” it is critical that it resembles the model. Therefore, caricature artists must have a firm grasp of anatomy, with the ability to pick out a distinguishing feature in each subject. Once you have mastered this, it is all about developing your own style. Aspiring caricaturists are urged to practice as much as possible, in a variety of settings. This not only helps develop a unique style, it assists in fine-tuning the other necessary skills, such as observation, communication, and humor. Since this artistic form requires making creative decisions on the fly, both accurately and quickly, practice really is the most rewarding experience.

While a degree is not required, there are a number of programs across the country that specialize in illustration and cartooning. The Center for Cartoon Studies, located in Vermont, offers a variety of certifications, degrees, and workshops, designed to meet every aspiring caricaturist’s needs. Those who attend a focused school program are able to learn design software such as Adobe Illustrator or ArtRage, create a portfolio, exhibit their work, are able to take part in internship programs, and are provided university support in their job search upon graduation. Additionally, many offer business classes to ensure aspiring entrepreneurs have the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage an enterprise.

What is the growth potential for a caricature business?

The introduction of digital technology offers a unique opportunity to modern day caricature artists, expanding their potential client pool to include virtually everyone. Artists who have found the greatest success go on to train a team of individuals across the country, ensuring their business reaches clients in need in every major town.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a caricature business?

Since accuracy is critical to your success, veteran caricaturists urge those entering the industry to spend as many hours as possible practicing. And, whenever possible, practice in various settings, as you never know what your next client’s needs might be.

How and when to build a team

As you build your reputation, you will want to take care of all artistic and administrative duties. However, as your career takes off and you begin to travel, you will find it increasingly difficult to balance your business tasks. At this time, hiring an administrative assistant could prove beneficial. He/she could handle all booking, scheduling, email communication, and invoicing, leaving the creative tasks to you. A number of caricature artists have experienced such an increase in business, that they hired a team of artists to represent them across the country. Since your name and reputation is on the line, it is critical that you provide personalized, hands-on training to any artist that you add to your caricaturist team.

Next Steps

Get more ideas with our Business Ideas Generator.

Check out our How to Start a Business page.

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