Over the past three years, we’ve come across an endless amount of portraits. Today, we’ve chosen 20 that really stood out to us for their originality and creativity. What these artists have done is take everyday materials like screws, maps, CDs or junk mail and turn them into incredibly cool and unusual works of art. We appreciate these artists not just for their unique style but also because we know that it takes a seemingly endless amount of time and patience to create such well-executed works. So, “Bravo!” to you! Thank you for having the determination, the courage and the creativity to see your works through. We’re truly inspired.
Toronto-based Cube Works Studio is a collaboration of graphic architects and "cubers" who use the popular Rubik's Cube to create some incredible cool portraits. Their goal is to “re-contextualize common objects to create complex, high-quality pieces of functional art.” Their best pieces? We love their amazing recreations of pop art!
Meet Andrew Myers, one of the most patient modern-day sculptors around. This Laguna Beach, California-based artist goes through a multi-step process to create incredible works of art you almost have to see (or touch) to believe. He starts with a base, plywood panel, and then places pages of a phone book on top. He then draws out a face and pre-drills 8,000 to 10,000 holes, by hand. As he drills in the screws, Myers doesn’t rely on any computer software to guide him, he figures it out as he goes along. “For me, I consider this a traditional sculpture and all my screws are at different depths,” he says.
Artist Christian Faur creates incredibly captivating 3D portraits made entirely of crayons! “My earliest memories of making art involve the use of wax crayons,” he says. “Because of the three-dimensional nature of the crayons, the individual surface images appear to change form as one moves about the gallery space. The images completely disappear when viewed from close up, allowing one to read the horizontally sequenced crayon text and to take in the beautifully colored crayon tips — all the while being reminded of that first box of crayons.” Mesmerizing and beautiful.
Artist Nick Gentry really knows how to think outside the box! Gentry paints his portraits not on a traditional canvas, but rather on old floppy disks. Like many of us, he grew up with these near obsolete items – floppy disks, VHS tapes, polaroids and cassettes. His art delves into what kind of impact the new internet culture has on all of us.
Take a close look at this picture and you’ll notice that this Mona Lisa is made up of 3,604 cups of coffee. Each cup is filled with varying amounts of milk to black coffee. It measures an impressive 20 feet high and 13 feet wide and took a team of eight people three hours to complete! Elaine Kelly, from event organizers the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority said, “We wanted to create an element of surprise and a sense of fun in the way we engaged with the public. The Mona Lisa has been reproduced so many times in so many different mediums but, as far as we know, never out of coffee.” (Photo by Gilles Gravier.)
A new, one-of-a-kind sculpture pays homage to one of the greatest boxers of all-time, Muhammad Ali. Made up of 1,300 boxing speed bags, the installation stands 22 feet high and is held up by 5 miles of stainless steel cable and 2 miles of aluminum tubing. Internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor Michael Kalish is the man behind reALIze, the new conceptual and thought-provoking monument. Kalish came up with the project and then worked with architectural firm Oyler Wu to design it.
Maps, Atlases and Encylopedias
Think these pieces were made from pencil, pen or paint? Think again. Artist Matthew Cusick cuts away pieces on maps, atlases, encyclopedias and school textbooks, to create crazy collages that look like drawings or paintings. "I like to catalog, archive, and arrange information and then dismantle, manipulate, and reconfigure it,” he says.
If you ever thought you needed to spend a lot of money buying art supplies, then check out these modern-day mosaics by Sandhi Schimmel Gold. Schimmel takes any paper waste he can find (junk mail, calendars, postcards, photos, old greeting cards, etc) and then assembles its pieces to create a portrait. “Absolutely no technology, programs or dies are used to create my art,” he says. “It is hand-painted, hand-cut, hand-applied, hand-embellished, and hand-finished.”
Using the very medium that made them famous, Erika Iris Simmons brings our favorite iconic film stars back to life! Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Fred Astaire are magnificently recreated with only an old, recycled film reel and tape. The highly detailed projects takes the Atlanta-based artist at least a couple weeks to complete. “I don’t really add any paint or pigments,” says Simmons. “I usually just take things apart and re-arrange them in weird ways, cutting away pieces when necessary.”
Using an entire phone book and some black paint, to bring out the detail, Alex Queral creates three dimensional relief sculptures that depict famous faces. Why? “I started using well-known faces simply because they were much easier to find in the media, not necessarily because I am a fan of a particular person depicted,” he explains. “I like the challenge of trying to capture a well-known face, especially one that I have been familiar with for a long time. I also like the juxtaposition of a well-known face with the anonymity of the listing of names, adding an additional layer of meaning by contrasting the anonymity of the listings with the famous face.”
TBWA, an advertising agency in Milan, Italy had a brilliant idea for the inauguration of First Floor Under, a pop-vanguard culture magazine. First Floor Under's first exhibition was about music piracy. What was TBWA’s brilliant plan? They produced posters of various artists using CDs!
Autobiographies usually focus around the life story of a main character. However, In the case of these clever ads, the books take the shape of the actual characters’ faces. Dutch ad agency Van Wanten Etcetera created the campaign to promote the annual Dutch Book Week. Every year, a specific genre is profiled. This year, the autobiography is featured. The project was conceptualized by Markus Ravenhorst and Maarten Reynen, with artwork completed by Souverein.
To commemorated his friend’s death, Frederick McSwain decided that he needed to do something special. You see, his friend was Canadian artist and designer Tobias Wong, who died at the age of 13,138 days (35 years-old). McSwain used 13,138 dice to create an immense portrait of Wong called Die. It was part of the BrokenOff BrokenOff exhibition at Gallery R'Pure in New York City, which was a to the artist during New York Design Week.
Embroidery extraordinaire Daniel Kornrumpf is able to mimic paint brushstrokes exceptionally well. His pieces are so realistic that they can almost pass as paintings.
Oksana Mas is a skillful Ukrainian artist who makes beautiful portraits without using your standard canvas and paint brushes. Instead, she uses hand-painted wooden eggs to assemble incredible mosaics that are sure to take your breath away. Just recently, Mas created several Easter egg mosaics for the Venice Biennale. She was inspired by the old Ukrainian folk custom krashenki, where wooden eggs were covered in traditional Ukrainian designs to celebrate Easter.
Blessed with both an impressive imagination and artistic skill, Nikki Rosato creates incredible people portraits…all made from maps! Her reason for choosing road maps as her medium? "Our physical bodies are beautiful structures full of detail, and they hold the stories that haunt and mold our lives,” she says. “The lines on a road map are beautifully similar to the lines that cover the surface of the human body."
Push Up Pins
Who needs paint when you have push up pins? Michigan-based artist Eric Daigh uses basic colored pins – red, yellow, blue, white, and black – and puts them into his canvas – poster board. About 25,000-100,000 pins can be found in each portrait. Talk about patience!
Though Ben Heine is well-known for his very clever series Pencil Vs Camera, many might not know about his Digital Circlism set. Heine’s created a new technique whereby digital circles are selectively placed onto a black background. Using a sharp round brush in Photoshop CS4, he makes these circles of different sizes and colors until they magically form a familiar face.
Vintage Bottle Caps
Molly B. Right creates amazing portraits out of vintage bottle caps. She begins by painting a portrait on a piece of sheet metal. The caps are then glued to the painting so that they overlap or are “like scales of a snake.” The caps are old dating back from the 30’s to the 70’s and the completed portraits weight up to 70 lbs!
This incredibly cool mosaic of Jimi Hendrix was made out of 5,000 guitar picks by artist Ed Chapman. The portrait was auctioned off for $37,200 at Abbey Road Studios in London as part of Cancer Research's Sound & Vision fundraiser.
Which of these do you love the most?