The current state of US politics can feel almost humorous, yet very serious at the same time. To provide some relief from the verbal debates and squabbles, we thought we would share artwork from a Greek Illustrator named Costis Papatheodorou whose work shows the funny and serious sides of both presidential candidates.
When and where was this body of work created?
"After my summer vacation and before clients started monopolizing my time, I worked on digital portraits, a personal project of mine. Several portraits and caricatures of friends in, I decided to move on to political figures and celebrities. And since the US election was every night on the news, I opted for the candidates."
What inspired you to create these caricatures?
"Last September I felt like getting into caricatures. I thought it would be intriguing, because it's a whole different approach than usual portraits. I started drawing caricatures of me and friends. As I felt more confident I went on to drawing recognizable public and political figures. I did the caricature of Donald Trump just for the fun of it. Then my wife insisted I should do one of Hillary Clinton too."
Can you explain your creative process and the technical aspects behind creating these images?
"I find the digital medium perfect for my professional and personal projects. I work on Adobe Photoshop with a Wacom Cintiq, a really powerful combo. I never use the undo/redo command. I correct my mistakes by painting on top of them - a tough but rewarding way to become more confident in my choices. At most of my digital paintings I try to draw using colors, blocking the shapes without pencilling first. In these portraits and caricatures since the subjects were very tricky, I did some pencil drafts and kept the most satisfying one to start painting over it. It took 4 to 8 hours each, because they were quite detailed."
What is the conceptual relevance of this work? Is there a feeling, emotion or idea you’re aiming to convey?
"Art is about the artist's view and interprertation of the world or the person he is drawing. I'm always trying to capture the 'likeness' of the portraited person, but most importantly I give my personal view of his /her personallity. I can't just be a 'photographic device'. In these portraits it was crucial to present my version of the candidates, without being overly biased."
How do you feel about the state of the US presidential race?
"It feels like deja vu! Last year's Greek election was also about populism vs pragmatism, blatant lies vs painful truths, hate speech vs moderation. Unfortunately that seems to be a pattern all over the western world right now. But I'm optimistic that in the end, the USA voters will make the right choice."
If you had one piece of advice for emerging or aspiring creative professionals what would it be?
"Gather all the artwork from other artists you like and admire - even better if they have different artistic styles. Try to understand why you really like their artwork (colour pallete, composition, use of light etc.). Work as much as you can and try to learn from your weaknesses and failures. Eventually you will develop your personal style and evolve as an artist."