fiftythree paper

"... don't break the chain"

Michael Rose is one of thousands of artists finding inspiration with the Sktchy iPhone app. Here’s a peek at his collection of Sktchy portraits with a few words from the artist.

What’s your background?

I’m a thirty-something glasses-wearing bearded dude, husband and father of twin girls from that place in New York known for inventing the chicken wing … yum!

For the last 15 or so years, I’ve been working as an in-house designer for a science education company, creating fun stuff like product catalogs, marketing materials, web sites, email newsletters and a bunch of other stuff.

Before that I attended college at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where I dual majored in graphic design and illustration with a minor in fine arts and literature.

What inspires you in your day to day life?

My twin girls (or two little rosebuds, as my wife and I like to refer to them) and the faces of strangers.

When you’re looking for inspiration in the Sktchy photo gallery, what jumps out at you?

All the normal things that make for a good photograph: good lighting, of high quality, in focus, interesting composition. I tend to gravitate towards black and white photographs with high contrast and well-defined highlights. I’m still learning how to draw and I find grays much easier to pull off, especially when drawn on an iPad (more on that in a minute).

Other than that, I like to select photos of women with long hair or men with some facial scruff. I like to play up both to take the emphasis away from any goofs I make when drawing, since I’m still learning about anatomy and correct facial proportions. Hair is also really relaxing and fun to draw, and I enjoy zoning out to music while placing each strand of hair on canvas.

What’s your medium of choice when you’re creating a portrait?

I draw exclusively on an iPad with a stylus using the Paper by FiftyThree app. Since graduating from college almost 15 years ago, I found that I stopped drawing in part because I was sitting in front of the computer all day designing. When I purchases an iPad two years ago, everything changed for me. I discovered the Paper app shortly after and found a tool that let me create in a convenient way that was similar to the traditional tools I stopped using so long ago.

The challenge of creating with Paper really drew me to the app as well. You can’t add layers, you can’t import photos to trace over, you can’t change the size of the tools – forcing you to embrace “happy mistakes.” The lines and marks Paper produces look more true to traditional pencil and watercolor produced illustrations versus the over airbrushed digital painted look found in more capable apps.

What’s one quirk in your creative process?

As if drawing with Paper wasn’t a challenge, I added a few more to my process. Draw at least one portrait a day and try to keep it under two hours. When Paper launched, it only had nine colors and no way to zoom to help with details work. Because of these two factors, I mostly drew portraits without faces. As my confidence with the app has grown, I’ve gradually worked up to drawing complete portraits as a personal challenge. But I think I still prefer the look of creepy faceless ones ;-)

Can you share one art-making tip?

As cheesy as it sounds, practice really does make perfect. Block out a slice of time from your day just for yourself and create something. Repeat this everyday and don’t break the chain. Start small, make it something you enjoy, and it won’t seem like a chore.

Get the Sktchy iPhone app to see more of Michael’s portraits and the photos that inspired them.