This is a drawing. A PENCIL drawing, by Kelvin Okafor, a 27 year-old British portrait artist, whose work will be on display starting this week at the London’s Science Museum. Okafor’s work is incredible, and it’s fascinating to read about his process. Although I understand that drawings of this scale and quality take so many hours, it is peculiar to me that he said he prefers to draw from photographs.
I’ve drawn from photographs, and a quality photograph can lend itself to a great portrait. (Okafor’s work seems sourced from legit, pro-grade photography.) The tricky part with photographs - especially good ones and even bad ones - is that they the subjects are filtered, literally, through someone else’s eyes. It’s not just Rihanna by Okafor - it’s Rihanna as seen/shot by Michael Thompson.
Personally, I like some face-time for a portrait. Even if I cannot map out every detail during that time, there is something for me about “seeing” the subject in person and glimpsing that “thing” that makes a drawing of two eyes, a nose, and a mouth not just A person, but THAT person. Portraits can be so hard - even if you draw everything perfectly, there’s a chance that it “just isn’t really [the subject].” Mad kudos to Okafor for “drawing” that thing out of photographs so expertly.