Tuesday 23 September 2014

You Ask a Friend to Create a Portrait

The situation: You’re scrolling through your friend’s portfolio, imagining your own portrait sitting amongst the sunsets and bumblebees.

You feel: excitement; vanity.

There comes a time in every totally splendid person’s life, when she needs a portrait of herself. It may be a photograph for the dust jacket of a first hardback, it may be a cartoon for the cover of a self-help book, or it may be an oil painting to mount in a downstairs toilet. Whatever the reasons, you must think long and hard before you ask somebody you know to create a portrait.

If you work with an illustrator, then she is the obvious first port of call. However, stop to consider how important your relationship with your illustrator actually is. Do you need to work with her again? Do you value your friendly-professional relationship?

No matter how skilled an artist, everybody has preconceived ideas about what they themselves look like, or what they’d like to look like. What if you’re in denial about the size of your nose and your illustrator draws it accurately? Once you’ve seen the drawing of your beaky nose, will you ever be able to work with your illustrator again without your Concorde popping into your head?

Everybody has a friend who’s into photography. If it’s a photo you’re after and you’ve exhausted the potential of the selfie, then a friend with a shiny DSLR is the natural next progression.

But does your photographer friend know your best side? Does he know that you like your head angled very slightly to the left to distract from your wonky eyes? Does he know that you like your face elevated to avoid looking double-chinned? Does he know that your hair needs to be parted so that it falls over your sun spot? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before enlisting your friend’s support. Otherwise you will either have to sound like a vain pedant or risk getting presented with a photo in which you look fat, wonky-eyed and sun-damaged. What will you say when your friend asks why you didn’t use his picture?

On the other hand, your photographer/illustrator might capture you so nicely that even your eternally critical inner self can find no fault (especially once you see the justice she did to your awesome white boots)

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