Mini-portraits for the masses

The headline on a recent story on CNN.com read: Old–school Portraits See Resurgence Online. The article spotlighted Matt Held, a New York City artist who paints peoples’ Facebook photos and gives them to his subjects. The story noted the art of portraiture, once reserved for the rich and the royal, has found a new mass appeal online.

The report started me thinking about how many artists today create their own inspired Facebook images—mini self-portraits that not only establish their identity online but at the same time provide a sampling of their artistic talents and imaginations. Some offer up sophisticated and painterly oil self-portraits like Coloradan Daniel Sprick (below right).

Others like Alex Schaefer, from the Los Angeles area, have some fun with their postage-stamp-size digitals. Schaefer, an instructor at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, took his first grade photo and added a beard in Photoshop (above right). “People think it’s funny, which is entirely my intention,” he says. “It still looks like me but also expresses a little about how I feel inside. I think in any artist there is a certain refusal to grow up.”

How does your Facebook/MySpace/Twitter image represent you as an artist?

—Bonnie Gangelhoff

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