Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I have loved watching you post your artwork on Twitter.
You’ve been drawing strangers as part of your initiative, what gave you this idea?
I originally got the idea after an experience. But first, some background and context to help set the scene…
Although I’ve been drawing, doodling, and cartooning since I was a kid, I’ve never been a “professional artist”. That is, drawing has never been my full-time job. Instead, I spent 25 years in IT, and am now a public speaker. However, the pandemic put my career on hold, and so – to keep myself busy and sane – I’ve returned to my past passion: drawing.
Since mid 2020, I’d been drawing quite a lot. And then in January 2021, I saw an old friend post their “favorite photo of themselves” on Facebook. I thought they might like a custom, hand-drawn illustration of the photo (some folks do), and so I decided to draw them – for them, for practice, for fun. And…they liked the drawing! I was happy that they were happy! Then, it occurred to me that other people might like custom, hand-drawn illustrations of their “favorite photo of themselves”, too. But rather than draw photos of my family and friends, I thought it might be a nice, innocent way to perform small, random acts of kindness for complete strangers (while getting in a bit of practice and keeping myself busy and sane with an activity I enjoyed). IMHO, there’s too little kindness in the world today, and this seemed like an opportunity to spread a bit of joy. And so, I began my little, personal project, “Favorite Drawing Of Me”.
How do you pick the people you draw?
For the “Favorite Drawing Of Me” project, I always begin by searching Twitter for the phrase “my favorite photo of me” (and dozens of variations). This returns many results with new, publicly-posted photos posted appearing every hour. Then, I start browsing – looking for photos of strangers that are interesting, funny, poignant, artistic… Anything that inspires me. And when I find one that seems like a good candidate, I then attempt to learn a little about the stranger. I explore the stranger’s Twitter feed, I read the past few days/weeks/months of their posts and replies, I visit and browse any websites and blogs they have linked, and I check out any other social media presence they have listed. I do all this to 1) try and get a feel for the person to help inspire my drawing of them, and 2) to avoid drawing jerks (I hate jerks). Eventually, I find a suitable stranger and photo, and then finally begin the “art part”.
Do you have a favorite picture you’ve done for this project? I always find it difficult to choose, I imagine it’s like a parents choosing a favorite child.
Ha! So true! You’re right, I love each drawing for different reasons. But, if I absolutely had to pick just one, I’d say #44 is my favorite. It’s kind of a mix between comic book and pop-art styles. I’d never before tried mixing those styles but I’m very pleased with how it turned out, especially the hair.
Was this your first time using digital art?
No, not by a long shot. I was first introduced to personal computers in the early 80s, and not long after I merged my knowledge of computers with my love of art. A few of the first programs I remember using to create digital art (ray tracing, 2D and 3D, still and animated, etc.) were Harvard Graphics, Autodesk Animator, and the Video Toaster on the Amiga. Through the years, I’ve used many dozens of programs and apps to create “digital art”. However, all of the drawings for the “Favorite Drawing of Me” project were creating using Sketches Pro by Tayasui on an old iPad with a cheap stylus. Interesting side-note: I currently live in a house previously owned by Charles Csuri, described by the Smithsonian magazine as the “father of digital art and computer animation” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Csuri and http://www.csurivision.com)!
That’s awesome! Do you have your next project in mind already?
I don’t have any new projects in mind, so I’ll probably return to an old project that has been on hold since the pandemic began: writing and illustrating my second children’s book (working title “Hank and Stella in How to Know”) that is intended as a fun way to teach kids how to think critically and learn for themselves, like a scientist.
That’s so exciting, Damian, I can’t wait to see what you do next! Keep us in the loop!
If you would like to find Damian Synadinos, his website is: https://www.idrawstrangers.com/ and you can find him on Twitter: @dsynadinos