Caricatures as avatars – should I?

I am often asked; “Do you do caricature avatars to use on social media?”

The answer is, of course, “Yes”. However, the question underlying this is actually: “Should I have a caricature of my face done for an avatar on social media?”, or – if you dig a bit deeper – “What will it look like?”

Another version I’ve been asked is “Is it appropriate? I am a serious professional and I’m worried that a caricature will make me seem less so.” This is an understandable fear. I’ve seen some headshots done by truly superb photographers, like the excellent Jon Cruttenden (check out his website at https://joncruttendenphotography.com/!), and I would definitely consider this option.

So why use a caricature for an avatar at all?

There are some really valid reasons for using a caricature for your avatar.

A great advantage of using a caricature is that it looks odd/grotesque/funny. Don’t worry about it: that’s how people are expecting it to look! Some headshots I’ve seen online are certainly less than flattering to the subject: the problem is that people believe that “the camera never lies”. The caricature is different: you look slightly odd and that’s perfectly fine – in fact, it’s expected!

There are levels of caricature – different styles that can be chosen. Above is the “arty” style that closely resembles the subject (yes, those are my handsome features!) The next example is the more “classic” caricature style where features are distorted and emphasised.

A big advantage of the caricature as an “artist’s impression” is that features can be altered at whim. I am aware of my hair now becoming quite grey in colour, whereas I’ve decided to darken the hair in my caricature avatar. No need for dyes!

If a client doesn’t like a drawing, it can be edited or redrawn with ease: it’s all part of the service!

Next, is a cartoon version. This is a very simplified caricature and the resemblance is much less. However, for some peoplethis is exactly what they are looking for. Any of these can be done in black and white, monochrome, or colour: it all depends on the desired effect!