“This website depicts the aviation art of Rob Henderson, who specialises in caricatures of well-known aircraft designs. From as little as £4.00*, it is possible to purchase copies of these entertaining and clever creations, via the website. The site includes sample images of each of Robert’s caricatures, handily sorted into convenient catagories. For each image, details are given of the price and the format in which it is presented. Rob’s work is not just limited to caricatures and the site depicts some of his other aviation art, along with personalised caricatures, both of which can be specially commissioned on request. Those wishing to acquire copies of Rob’s work are catered for in a number of pages, which give details of terms and conditions, postage and packing (normally free* in the UK) and contact information. Rob even provides an order form that can be printed out before posting to him*. There is also a page of aviation links, leading to sites related to Rob’s work.”
*NOTE: ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN THE ABOVE ARTICLE WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION, MAY 2001. PLEASE BE AWARE, THAT AS “C.A.P.” RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ALTER THE SERVICES & PRODUCTS OFFERED AND THEIR RESPECTIVE PRICES, THAT SOME ITEMS MENTIONED IN THE REVIEW MAY NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE.
January 2003 Issue 27
CHRISTMAS GIFTS PART 2
“As always, a piece of aviation art always goes down well at Christmas – and none more so than the stunning caricatures produced by Rob Henderson at Caricature Aircraft Pictures. The 297mm by 420mm pictures are printed on archive matte paper* and retail at £10.00*, which includes free postage in the UK*. Rob sent us a variety of RAF aircraft for this feature but tells us that he can offer a personalised service of an original caricature of your aircraft – or even (for the more adventurous) a caricature of you flying your aeroplane! For more details, give Rob a call on 01424 *** ***.”
*NOTE: ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN THE ABOVE ARTICLE WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION, JANUARY 2003. PLEASE BE AWARE, THAT AS “C.A.P.” RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ALTER THE SERVICES & PRODUCTS OFFERED AND THEIR RESPECTIVE PRICES, THAT SOME ITEMS MENTIONED IN THE REVIEW MAY NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE.
November / December 2003
TOONING THE MACHINE
“Rob Henderson has been interested in aviation from a very early age and has drawn and painted since he can remember. Having had no ‘formal’ training, unless you include attending 6th form college, where he always ended up doing projects with an aeronautical theme, much to the teachers despair. Rob just thought it was “more interesting than drawing bowls of fruit and aging nude models”. It was from here, while enduring the day to day boredom of lectures, that small black and white cartoons of various aircraft began to appear. These in turn developed into the basis of the aircraft caricatures he does today. Rob has since decided to go professional, and has started work on his own business : Caricature Aircraft Pictures. During the past few years the popularity of his work has increased, with many of his original work being commissioned as leaving gifts for members of the armed forces not only at home in England, but also in the U.S.A..”
*NOTE: ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED WITHIN THE ABOVE ARTICLE WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION, NOV / DEC 2003. PLEASE BE AWARE, THAT AS “C.A.P.” RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ALTER THE SERVICES & PRODUCTS OFFERED AND THEIR RESPECTIVE PRICES, THAT SOME ITEMS MENTIONED IN THE REVIEW MAY NO LONGER BE AVAILABLE.
March / April 2004
ROB HENDERSONS AIRICATURES
“Of course it’s just a phase you know, so enjoy it while you can. I expect you’ll be back here in six months.”These were the last words my ex boss said to me when I quit my previous job to make my artwork a full-time career. Well at the time of writing this it’s two years, two months, twenty-four days later and counting…I’m a freelance artist based on the South Coast of the United Kingdom. My work as a caricature artist has only been professional for just over two years, though this form of artwork had been a full time hobby on and off since the early 1990’s after finishing college.
I was born in 1972 in a small town called St.Leonards-on-Sea on the South Coast of England, the youngest of four children with one brother and two sisters. I’ve always painted and drawn ever since I can remember, to the detriment of my other studies at school. I was fascinated by the work found in comic books like “D.C. Comics” and the various “Marvel” publications – Spiderman, Superman, Star Wars, and Red Sonja etc. Another big influence was animated cartoons and films like Tom and Jerry, Road Runner and the Coyote, Foghorn Leghorn, Bugs Bunny. My parents have an old school report from when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and even this stated that I should “concentrate less on my artwork, and put all my efforts in to more important subjects.” OK, let’s see. Long multiplication or drawing F-4 Phantoms shooting MiG’s out the sky left right and centre. I’ll let you guess what was the more attractive option.No, honestly, it wasn’t mathematics.Along with art the other big interest was without doubt aviation, so it was probably inevitable that the two would combine to form the subject matter of 95% of my artwork during my childhood and beyond (that and the latest thing from the Star Wars movies). Every year the local village to where I lived with my parents held (and still does) a “flower show”, a small fair where the villagers would compete and show off their creative skills – such as who’s grown the tallest sunflower, the biggest marrow, who’s made the jam that attracts the most wasps etc. Alongside these wonders of human endeavour was an art contest. One for adults, and another for children. As a pupil at the local school, each year we were all actively encouraged / forced to enter the competition, and each year there were strict guidelines as to the subject matter. It became apparent that no one in the village committee liked aviation. Each year I waited with a faint glimmer of hope that this year’s topic would be something like “How I destroyed the enemy air force single handed in one mission while flying a Spitfire”. But no.”Paint a bowl of fruit.””Paint a vase of flowers.””Paint something you did on your holiday, involving a bowl of fruit and a vase of flowers.”Ah well. It’s better than doing math.Then one year, it happened (well almost). “Open subject, paint whatever you want.”.
My initial idea of “How I destroyed the enemy air force single handed in one mission while flying a Spitfire” was met with some negativity, so the aviation theme was turned towards a less violent aspect of flying with Concorde taxiing to the terminal at an airport as the chosen subject.
At this time I had won the junior art competition for several years running, but the results were quite surprising that year. Someone somehow decided that my painting should be entered in the adult competition. I won. Then it was discovered I was 11 years old. The winner’s trophy cup and prize money was never awarded to me and I was banned from entering the competition in order to give other competitors a chance. Life can be tough when you’re an artist.
I decided to follow on with my art through the remainder of my education, but it was at college while studying for my ‘A’ Levels that my work really began to change. It wasn’t through the discovery of an artists work from years gone by or from the active encouragement of a teacher. It was thanks to boredom. You see, I wanted to develop my style in aviation art, but all we seemed to do was still life, crazy wacky abstract art that really shows your feelings and emotions (“This isn’t very colourful or exciting.”. “It’s because I’m bored and this doesn’t interest me, can’t you tell?”), or wrinkled nude models who were so saggy it was difficult to tell if you were drawing their breast’s or their feet. In the end, I pretty much gave up and drew mostly aviation subjects, much to the teacher’s despair. The aircraft caricatures that I do now really started here. They were just small doodles, scribble made on bits of paper when I should have been paying attention to what was going on in class, but they made me smile inside. My teachers became increasingly frustrated with my work in the same way I became frustrated with the course work. One teacher told my Mother that I should give up thinking about being an artist, as I would never make it because I would never paint what he wanted me to paint, and that I wouldn’t experiment and broaden my horizons. Cartoons of aeroplanes are what children do, not adults.
Around this time, a British company called “Squadron Prints” was very actively advertising their work in various aviation publications. They produced prints of military aircraft in profile, but with incredible detail. This was it. I decided I was going to work as an artist for this company. I brought this to the attention of one art teacher and described my aim. For the first time in many months, I had found something artistic that inspired me, but the advice I got was less than encouraging. A company like this wouldn’t touch me, not without top qualifications, years of experience a vast portfolio and so on. Well that was it. If I couldn’t work for them, then I would work like them. This was going to be the way my caricatures would develop. My aircraft caricatures would become caricature profiles, but I would make the actual detail as fine and as close to the real thing as possible. And from here the process started.The profiles have become more complex and my style has definitely changed and matured over the years – in fact it still is developing with each and every illustration I do. The original caricatures were produced in black ink on cartridge paper, but have progressed into watercolour on board, with the odd bit of chalk pastel here and there. My original commissions were for friends and for cadets in the local “Air Training Corps” squadrons (the ATC is a youth group which is part of the UK’s Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve). During this time, I was introduced to the owners of a local hobby shop called Maintrack Models. Peter & Heather offered me an attractive deal. Help them on their trade stand at airshows around the UK during the summer, and in return I could display and sell my work from their stall. This was the first step into getting my work out in the public eye. The response was slow, but positive and steadily picked up momentum, and by the third airshow I had been commissioned by the British Army’s helicopter display team the Blue Eagles to produce two caricatures of both helicopter types used by the team to celebrate the teams silver anniversary. Both these designs were made into limited edition prints and were sold by the team at future airshows.I helped out during several airshow seasons, however a few problems occurred. The two companies in the local area who were capable of producing limited runs of prints at a price within reach of my wallet ceased trading within 12 months of each other. Also, I changed jobs. While the income was much improved, the available time to pursue my artwork decreased dramatically. I had about two years artwork free, when we were all called for a meeting. The company I was with had gone into difficulties, and half the work force was made redundant. While I was still with a job, the threat of unemployment was ever present. So, a plan was put into action to act as a backup – I would start painting again.At this time, the Internet (bless it) was getting big business. If you weren’t on the WWW you weren’t going anywhere. I had recently invested in a PC, and at the same time, a friend of mine, Chris, had started working for a website design and promotion company. From here my first website was born – well more of a web page than a site, with the grand total of two illustrations. I continued producing personalised side profile caricatures to order for several months, then an enquiry came through which turned my artwork and business into a whole new world.
A gentleman called Ivan who was serving in the RAF was looking over the Internet for an unusual gift for a colleague who was leaving the Squadron. His request was for a Jaguar attack aircraft but with a portrait of his friend in the cockpit. Well, I had never tried a caricature portrait of an actual person before, and as we discussed the personalised details that were required in the artwork it became obvious that a side profile just wouldn’t do it justice – he also wanted if possible the aircraft to be painted with the landing gear down and with it’s brake parachute trailing behind. During the planning, the profile was switched to a ¾ head-on view, and from here the idea of some kind of background scene also emerged. The details were finalised and the work completed, and it was met with great enthusiasm upon its delivery. A new website was made soon after with a far more extensive gallery of my caricatures, including the new “caricature scene”. Within a few weeks, I had two commissions in from the USA, plus another three as leaving gifts from Ivan and his unit in the RAF. The learning curve and the development of my style for this new type of caricature was almost vertical, and as soon as each new piece was complete and delivered a copy of it was up on the website… and it’s just kept on going since. The Internet has also provided a great business partnership for me and has given me a great friend in the shape of Rick Rizzo who owns an aviation-based company in Boston called “Squadron Flight Shop”. Rick has been a great help in bringing my work to the attention of the US military, and has helped provide a wealth of new contacts and joint projects, and my work can now be found on embroidered patches on the flight suits and jackets of various aircrew in the US armed forces. One twist of fate is that through my caricatures I have also had the privilege to become friends with and work on projects with Gill Howie the team at Squadron Prints in recent years – the exact same Squadron Prints that I was told by my teacher several years earlier wouldn’t touch me or my artwork. Meeting their top artist Dugald Cameron whose work I had admired for years was only surpassed by him telling me he enjoyed my work and thought it was great fun. Funny old world…I currently live in Bexhill-on-Sea on the South Coast of the UK with my partner Mandy and our two Golden Retrievers, Bobby & Indiana, though we’re hoping that in the not too distant future we will be able to relocate to the USA – an increasing amount of my custom in from the US, plus the weather over here in the UK is generally lousy all year round.
Aside from the RAF, I have now produced presentation gifts for various individuals and squadrons in the UK’s Royal Navy, USAF, USN, USMC, US Army, Netherlands Air Force, plus civilian flying schools, airlines and private aircraft owners. The caricature side profiles are still an important part of my work, and I have been lucky enough to produce official caricature prints for various aerobatic display teams and military units including the USAF Thunderbirds and the USN Blue Angels, plus a special caricature print for Navy Squadron VS-35 to celebrate President GW Bush’s landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.