Every Circus Starts With A Parade

Sep 09

What’s the right way to start a circus?

With A Parade, Of Course!

The answer seems obvious, doesnt it? But I was a bit befuzzled when it came to trying to translate that idea into something online.

Then the  characters at the top of this post  spoke up; they’re from the same planning project as the love letter, and they  represent just a very few of imaginary Right People.

Who Are They?

The Lady Whippet? She’s a very talented poet, but she keeps her beauty under her very sensible wrap where no one can see it.  She is a little afraid of the attention it might bring, I think.

Chantecleer the Rooster is a proud, successful business type, who secretly wants to chuck it all in the hen house and become an opera singer.  But he’s a bit worried about balancing his artistic aspirations with his existing obligations.

And Meester Hare? He’s a bit of a nervous type.  What you don’t see is that hidden in that hat of his is a whole collection of magical tricks and ideas that he’d love to get out in the world, if he can find the courage.

But Back To The Parade!

They had this grand idea that *they* could be in the parade.

And it seemed like a pretty good idea to me, too, and very brave on their part!

But we’d need more help to make it a *proper* parade.

So I sat down at the drawing table and whipped out a few more images.   They’re pretty quick to do, since I’m basing them on antique illustrations and gave myself permission to *gasp* trace their general form.  That’s scary, to me – I’ve had it so drilled into me that it’s NOT OK to use existing images that I often limit my inspirations.

So for this project, I’ve given myself permission to play happily without constraint, so long as I’m using images that are out of copyright.

And Here’s Where You Come In…

As the day goes on (and probably through tomorrow, too, since I’m getting a late start) I’ll be posting a parade of images here,  along with explanations of their roles in the Circus Serene.  A few are already completed (because I was afraid I couldn’t get anyone to play along) but the way I really want this to work?

I want *you* involved in the Parade!

So tell me about your inner circus geek, the clown that scared you as a kid,  or which animal in the menagerie you’d still love to keep in your bathtub.  What’s your favorite part of the circus?  Is there a particular sideshow act that lives in your head?  If you ran off to join the circus today, what would your role be?

Let me know, and I’ll do my dangedest to draw it for you.

Today.  Now. While you wait.

I’ll add it to the parade, and write about how that character or act fits into The Circus Serene.

Oh, and for at *least* the first five of you?

I’ll send you the actual artwork.
For Free.

With a signature and everything.

(So you know how big of a deal that is or isn’t, here’s a few examples of my more typical artwork. I guess I’m kind of a lot like Lady Whippet, since I don’t really show this stuff around much. )

I can only promise to send the artwork for the first five people who participate, but I’m going to try to get as many images done and gifted as I can…  so long as my hands and postage budget hold out!

Update: All of the original artwork is spoken for, and then some … But I’d still love to hear your favorite circus acts, and you never know when I might decide to draw a few more, on a whim!

How To Participate:

Just leave a comment below, telling me what circus character or act you’d like to see on parade – Oh, and I’d love to hear about why you’ve chosen it.

You can also Tweet  your favorite circus act to me, using the hashtag #circusparade  (for extra insurance, you can be sure to get my attention there with a reply to @ToriDeaux). And if  enough of you go the Twitter #circusparade route? I’ve got more top-secret-plans to do with that, too!

So, have I left anything out? Questions?

Then Let’s Get This Parade Started!

What Circus Acts would you like to see join in the fun?


  1. Oh, I think there definitely needs to be an organ-grinder monkey–only SHE wants to be the husker and make the silly little dude wear the bellhop costume and make *him* dance…

    Like it’s any surprise I’d pick a monkey 🙂

    I’ve always been a little skittish of the sideshow acts, feeling guilty for staring at them mixed with morbid curiosity and the general distrust of your average carnival worker (but I’m sure your carnies are different and won’t give me the weird vibes the ones down here do!).

    • Tori Deaux /

      One Organ Grinder Monkey, coming up shortly!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Tada! One Former Organ-Grinder Monkey. She worked really hard, saved her pennies, and bought out the Organ Grinder’s share of the business.

      And a tiara.

      The Organ Grinder? He spent all the money on booze, hit the skids and now works for her. You can’t see him here, but he’s on the end of the leash she’s holding.

      (unfortunately, I can’t seem to get a good photo of her – she’s MUCH cuter in person. Her tiara is gold and silver, and the leash is gold as well! I’ll try to get a better shot tomorrow)Former Organ Grinder's Monkey. Now Queen.

  2. it feels very pretentious of me to say this, but I’ve always wanted to be the ringmaster of a big circus – the person who is both the graceful and powerful voice of the show, and at the same time is the stage manager making sure it all runs. And I’d sing too 😉

    In fact I know have “Join the Circus” from the musical Barnum in my mind…
    “Come join the circus like you wanted to
    when you were a kid
    climb aboard before it moves on
    and you’ll bet your life your glad you did…..”

    Congratulations! The site looks amazing! and your character artwork is great too!


    • Tori Deaux /

      Oh it doesn’t seem the least bit pretentious to me, Andy! (she said, tilting her ringmistress hat at a rakish angle!)

    • Tori Deaux /

      Here you go, Andy… one Ringmaster of Great Pretension!

      The Ringmaster of Great Pretension!

      I do have a fellow like this that marches around in my head, ordering Things this way and that. The Things mostly don’t listen to him, but my, he DOES look sharp doing them!

      (again, the photography just isn’t representing it well… I’ll try again in a day or so, when I add the finishing touches)

  3. Melkitty /

    OhhH! I want to be one of the kitties in the lion tamer cage. A black panther, but not the mean potentially bite your face off one. I’m the good kitty who gets to wear the kitty princess crown, and do all the fun tricks, maybe like riding a bicycle that isn’t demeaning at all, i do it just because i want to do it!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Mel, I love that image of you — especially the tiara!

      Ok, time to hit the drawing boad…

  4. Oh! Oh! Oh!

    Soooo excited for you!

    And, I have a favorite circus act — I don’t know what they are called but the awesome people who do crazy balancing tricks while riding horses (standing on them, doing flips, jumping from horse to horse, etc – kind of like the flying trapeze artists only on horses). Yes!

    Ok, gonna go check out the rest of your site now. Congratulations! You so totally rock!

    • Tori Deaux /

      The trick pony riders are one of my favorites, too! I had some picture books as a little girl, with the most gorgeous dapple draft horses being balanced on by girls in sparkly pink tutus. I wonder where those pictures are…..

    • Tori Deaux /

      I just got this one scanned in for you, Larisa – started it yesterday, and I still want to do another one specifically for you, but now…

      It’s Whole Handfuls of Pony Power!
      Whole Handfuls of Pony Power

      • Oh wow! That’s awesome. Can’t wait to see the just-for-me one but I do love this one! The colors are gorgeous and it feels so very alive and vibrant. Fantastic!

  5. What a lovely idea and I’m sure you already have a circus full of fun but … I love little doggies in tutus! And calliopes. And elephants. And glitter.

    Your site looks beautiful and your artwork, delightful!

  6. Oh my, how gorgeous is this? Tori, you have outdone yourself, and I am just in love with the Circus Serene.

    You have found your true place, and I know you will be amazing at helping your true people find their path to success.

    Well done, my friend!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Thank you so much, Erin! And what, there’s no circus act running around in your head? I don’t believe it! Fess up!

  7. Sotto Voce /

    Hooray, what fun!

    I’ve always loved circus bears that slowly walk around on top of a large striped ball. Who would have guessed a bear has that kind of balance and finesse?

    • Tori Deaux /

      Bears with finesse. I’d never thought of it that way! Balance and Rawrs!

  8. So beautiful, this is fantastic.

    The circus is a little scary, and I’m not sure I should be at one while there is so much to do. So if you please, a little red hen who is always busy planting the grain, cutting the wheat, grinding it at the mill and baking the bread who comes to the circus and finds herself reminded of how important it is to have fun too…that would be lovely.

    • Tori Deaux /

      A little red hen! How very very sweet she is. I love her already.

  9. Love this website Tori, visiting is like lounging around in a lush work of art!

    If I was to run away and join a circus I’d be a juggler … with fire sticks!!

    Congratulations on the wonderful site! Huzzah for parades!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Thank you so much, Dave! A Juggler! Fire! Huzzahs! Check!

  10. Tori Deaux /

    Today’s parade participant plans have been hijacked by family-lack-of-planning. The dancing bears are ok with it so long as I bring back any leftovers, and I’ve asked the acrobats to babysit the clowns. The elephants are coming with me, in the hopes that there will be popcorn.

    The parade will resume soon. Happy weekend, everyone!

  11. RIchard /

    Winged Narwhales, On Trapeze!

    Tossing rings from horn to horn!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Erm… wow!
      Your parents must have taken you to a very fine circus indeed!

  12. Such beautiful illustrations! And pretty nifty ideas to spread the word. Very smart lady!

    I’ve always been fond of the tigers/lions acts. They seem so majestic and graceful and fierce and strong!

    Though I have to admit I couldn’t go to an animal circus due to the guilt involved. The last circus acts I’ve been to have all been Cirque du Soleil, and I do love me some acrobats! Especially the ones that fly around the tent hanging from silks. It just seems so magical! So liberating and fearless!

  13. Tori Deaux /

    TADA!!! The complete parade: http://bit.ly/cYjyIl

    There’s art! There’s a real calliope! And winners, we have winners! (that’s you!)