WSJ Style Portraits of Presidents

all images, c. Kevin Sprouls

So, it’s getting pretty heated out there politically. With the midterms having blessedly passed, I thought it might be fun to present some of my WSJ style portraits of presidents. I’ve created many of these, as you’ll see. When I was at The Wall Street Journal, I produced portraits of many world leaders and politicians. But, for this post, I’ll stick to U.S. Presidents.

Remember this guy? I made this portrait of Barack Obama for a client who had it printed on tee-shirts for his first Inauguration. I’ve illustrated Mr. Obama a few times. The Illustration below was used on a Harper’s magazine cover:

Workman, a publishing house, published an parody Anthology of Poetry a few years ago. The “poems” were extracted from utterances of some culturally famous people. Here is Obama’s portrait from that book:

Working backwards, Here’s a caricature of George “W” Bush I created, WSJ-style:

Going further back, This is a hedcut I made of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for The Wall Street Journal when I held my day job there…

You can spot my signature toward the base of the drawing if you look closely.

I was commissioned to create a detail from the twenty dollar bill for a retailer advertising a sale. Andrew Jackson in his oval frame:

Lastly, here is one with a twist: I took on a quite challenging assignment when I agreed to render the back of George Washington’s head. I wonder if you can imagine the difficulty of finding source materials for this angle! It was not really possible to unearth anything to go on, so I just made it up. I don’t recall the rhyme or reason for this image, something for a print ad I think, but it was an interesting challenge to take on…

…complete with backward running typography.

That’s it for now, Thanks for visiting my blog!

2 thoughts on “WSJ Style Portraits of Presidents

  1. When I do a drawing lesson I try to mention that the spaces between the features are at least as significant as the features themselves. But I only half-practice what I preach, and don’t explain much about why this is so. Thus for most of my students, and for me too, the cheeks, temples, jawline, etc., etc. remain a sort of no man’s land to be scurried through with perfunctory bits of shading and minimal attention, or no attention at all, to specifics. Your portraits show how these featureless zones not only define the subject’s facial structure but also express personality. Maybe there’s even a Neo-Maoist sermon lurking in the shadows… In the on-going struggle against Major Feature Chauvinism your work is a shining beacon lighting our way towards a future in which each and every square inch of a head’s surface shall finally get the attention it deserves! A lesson for us all in truth, justice and equality!. Or maybe it’s best to just make sure your work is seen and let it speak/teach for itself.

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