I've actually been thinking about this topic quite a bit over the past few weeks.
So.... a few artists at the Cartoon Vegas caricature stand have had some "Don't-draw-this" customers lately. Here's a few tips that I've given to all the artists I've trained, to handle situations like this. These are situations that I myself have experienced many times over the years. Trust me, they get easier to handle as time goes by.
*Important Note: These are just a few tips on what's worked for me and the other Cartoon Vegas Artists. There's really only one rule that EVERYONE should go by, no matter what:
Always be professional, positive , and calm
when handling EVERY situation with EVERY customer.
CUSTOMER: "Hi, I'd like a caricature, but can you give me more eyelashes, straighter teeth with NO braces, and a slimmer waist? Oh wait, I should probably come back when my hair is down...."
Now, there are many ways you can answer this person. In this case its obvious it may be a young woman (or even a guy who wants more eyelashes, and hair down...ya never know in Vegas, and we don't judge :) , who may or may not have some self conscious issues, which, let's face it: WE ALL DO.
We all want to look great for pictures, right? So it's not a photo, it's a caricature you say? Well, the truth is, it's still an "image captured" of the person, and they want to look their best. It's normal human behavior and you do it too, so let it go.
OPTION 1: (This is something along the lines of what I would say)
"Hi! Of course! You're already gorgeous, what are you worried about?! I'll make you even more diva-fide! Us girls can never have too much eyelash volume!!! However, I recommend that I draw the braces, because it will be more recognizable as you. Besides, it's a great memory you can look back on, of you with your braces!
C: Are you sure the braces will be OK? And what about my hair?
"Of course! Braces are cute! You should be proud of who you are! YOU are the only YOU there is!!!! And yes, I can draw your hair down. Is is kind of layered or wavy, or do you have a photo? I think your hair looks cute up in that messy ponytail though. "
OK, you're probably gagging yourself now...but if you knew me at all, you'd know that I don't just say this stuff. I honestly mean everything I say to people. Ask my boss, my co-workers, people who work at the Strat. This is me. All the time. I am probably the most bubbly, happy person on the planet, and I really want every customer to have a great caricature experience. Conversation wise, as well as the the drawing. Every experience means something to me, and I don't want to just " draw a caricature, get a paycheck". I care. Period. I love and care about people, and I love to make people laugh. I read a quote on my phone one day that said the "You are the only you there is" and it stuck with me. It's something I remind myself everyday. When I'm pushing my self too hard to draw JUST like one of my idols....instead of being proud of the style I have, and grateful that I can draw. Or thinking back when I used to wish I didn't have a gap between my teeth. And now, I love jacking my own face up in a cartoon. It's good to be proud of who you are. And it's even greater to help others see it in themselves, and have a little fun with their face for 5 minutes. So now I say that to everyone and anyone that sound like they don't like themselves.
So what's the moral? What you say, and how you react to people can really have an effect on their entire day. So.... compliment them, get to know them, relate to them, and definitely appreciate them as people, not just as customers.
Peace love and paintbrushes,