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Sunday, April 09, 2006

There are a lot of things I like about deviantART and the opportunity to make friends with some of the most talented artists this side of the planet tops the list. More often than not it's the result of mutual respect for each other's talent or like one of my casual friends like to call it, "inclusion into the 'Mutual Admiration Society'." One of those artists I consider myself fortunate enough to make an acquaintance with is Underwoodwriter (okay I'm such a crummy friend not to know even his first name ). He got his nick from an old brand of typewriter, he's a fellow Pinoy currently living in Iloilo, 20 years old and draws like old Al Hirschfeld himself. I first met him last February when he posted some compliments about my art in the Devious Comments section.


Self-portrait no. 3

I always check the pages of those who post comments and compliments in my pages. Imagine the surprise waiting for me when I saw his artwork. As a backgrounder to his main influence, I discovered the artworks of the late Mr. Hirschfeld in high school while I was going through some old copies of Reader's Digest. There was an article written about this old artist and it was love at first sight for me. The distinct yet simple, clean lines used in drawing the likenesses of theater and movie actors and actresses held me back from turning the pages past the small bio. This article was the only link I had to this artist as the internet was not yet in existence back then and you could consider yourself lucky if you found an artbook sold in bookstores that didn't tackle painting. Here's part of what's written about him in his biography in Wikipedia:
Hirschfeld's art style is unique, and he is considered to be one of the most important figures in contemporary caricature, having influenced countless cartoonists. Hirschfeld's caricatures are almost always drawings of pure line, with simple black ink on white paper, with little to no shading or cross-hatching. His drawings always manage to capture a likeness using the minimum number of lines. Though his caricatures often exaggerate and distort the faces of his subjects, he is often described as being a fundamentally "nicer" caricaturist than many of his contemporaries, and being drawn by Hirschfeld was considered an honor more than an insult.
He was well loved and I guess it's safe to say he's at the top list of every caricaturist living today. I myself was hooked though I didn't find myself trying to follow the same lines he did in drawing, I think more than anything the cleanliness and simplicity of the drawings contributed to my art today.


Steven and JM

But the even bigger surprise with this new friend of mine was the fact that we not only shared the same passion for the art of Hirschfeld but also the same interests in theater plays, music, painters, and LP records. Despite his young age this was someone whose interest was more on the traditional old stuff rather than that of digital technology. A rare artist indeed. The artwork shown above features a couple of his friends which shows how much he's already mastered the technique as well as in the following celebrity caricatures (click the images to enlarge):


Tom Lehrer


Chaplin in the Gold Rush


Maestro Herbert von Karajan


Silmarillion: Yavanna

He's also written a couple of engaging prose and poetry: The Magical Cigarette, Damocles...Revisited, and I, poet along with some rough sketches for a project he and his buddies are working on (which I think is either an RPG graphic novel or a movie):


Underwood Sketches 1 (detail).


Underwood Sketches 2 (detail).

And just a few weeks ago I saw this über cool and awesome artwork in his gallery without me asking him for it. I mean I would have but he beat me to the draw (excuse the pun):


He's the first and only artist I know so far who draws as close as possible to Hirschfeld and to have my likeness rendered in a manner as this, well it's as close to being drawn by the great caricaturist himself which is an honor in itself. But what I consider to be an even bigger privilege is having made his acquaintance before he hit the big time. Which isn't far if he continues with his dream. Check out the other artworks in his gallery and tell him how much you appreciate his art because you never know one of these days we might read his name and see his artwork in the newspapers or art magazines abroad. Or even being interviewed as being part of the huge movie SFX teams that designed an epic fantasy or sci-fi flick. We'll never know.

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