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Photorealistic drawings with a biro
February 4, 2008 10:27 AM   Subscribe

The incredible works of Juan Francisco Casas, drawn using a Bic pen (some NSFW).
posted by goo (43 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That is really cool. Thanks.
posted by veggieboy at 10:58 AM on February 4, 2008


Bic pen drawing and NSFW seems odd - but indeed....
posted by Rashomon at 11:07 AM on February 4, 2008


Even the ones that are not really NSFW look pornographic in that context, such as this or this.

Anyway, I don't see what's so exciting about recreating banal photographs with a pen.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 AM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


Holy crap.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2008


I don't see what's so exciting about recreating banal photographs with a pen.

You do it.
delmoi's actually Chuck Close and I'm about to get totally pwned, aren't I?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:16 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I don't see what's so exciting about recreating banal photographs with a pen.

I dunno...the skill involved?
posted by piratebowling at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2008


Delmoi has a point. From a skill point of view the guy's stuff is amazing. From an artistic point of view?

And what the fuck is up with the pictures of the little kids who look like they're in the middle of sex?
posted by schroedinger at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2008


I dunno...the skill involved?

I've seen this kind of thing before, and it was always more interesting.
posted by delmoi at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2008


Anyway, I don't see what's so exciting about recreating banal photographs with a pen.

I dunno...the skill involved?

That's like getting excited by how much a cover band sounds like the real thing. Plenty of skill going on here, but I don't see any art.
posted by yifes at 11:33 AM on February 4, 2008


Yeah, I'm kind of with delmoi. Exceptional technique and control, but he's still basically tracing photographs.

I'm generally impressed with photorealistic technique, including these, because it demonstrates a skill and attention to detail that is often lacking with many artists. However, I don't see the artistry; as photographs, they'd be somewhat interesting as something you'd find in an early 90's zine. As tracings, well... when he starts drawing photorealistic images that are clearly entirely from the confines of his head, then I'll be more intrigued.
posted by hincandenza at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess I just don't get the double standard that some are arguing here of "Oh, as a photo it would be interesting." A photo (especially this type of candid subject shot) is easier to snap than drawing from a photographic source. Shading and crosshatching with a pen is pretty damn hard, especially a shitty disposable pen like a bic. But I clearly seem to be in the minority here, and this is quickly turning into a "Yes, but is it ART?" debate. Oh well.
posted by piratebowling at 11:45 AM on February 4, 2008


If you want amazing technical detail and art at the same time, try Vik Muniz.
posted by nímwunnan at 11:46 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


He gets through about four Biros to create each 2m (6ft) creation – and he always uses blue.

Doesn't really work on a small computer screen, in other words.

As for the art aspect:

The 31-year-old former art student's life changed when he submitted one of his drawings to a national art competition in 2004 – and won second prize. He said: 'It was an academic competition and I knew they would think my entry was a joke. It was a real shock it was so successful.'

Not enough MeFiSnarkers on the competition jury, obviously. Cannot leave things like this to academics.
posted by effbot at 12:02 PM on February 4, 2008


How does Juan find the time to draw? Looks as if he is getting more action than a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 12:05 PM on February 4, 2008


.. or Jerry Bruckheimer, full-stop.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2008


Does this guy make a living from this? Because I could knock up stuff like that with my eyes shut.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:14 PM on February 4, 2008


Does this guy make a living from this? Because I could knock up stuff like that with my eyes shut.

No, those women probably don't pay him.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on February 4, 2008


They kinda suck, in a fratboy kinda way.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:26 PM on February 4, 2008


You know who else won second place in an art competition?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:28 PM on February 4, 2008 [8 favorites]


somewhat interesting idea, mundane result. next.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 12:29 PM on February 4, 2008


Seems to me I've read that art with a (typically sharpened) Bic ballpoint is a big thing in prisons, and I'm wondering if that's part of the unspoken underlying context for these.
posted by jamjam at 12:32 PM on February 4, 2008


That's not the kind of sex they have in prisons, jamjam.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:33 PM on February 4, 2008


I thought these were really good. Thanks for posting the link.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2008


I like them too - they're surprisingly intimate, sometimes even intrusive, but leave me happy. I'd like to see them IRL.

His oil paintings, further on in the gallery, are very good too.
posted by goo at 12:45 PM on February 4, 2008


I tend to agree - very impressive, but not very interesting.

Or, to put it another way, a high ratio of perspiration to inspiration.
posted by kcds at 12:55 PM on February 4, 2008


I realize this may be a matter of opinion, but no, his oil paintings are not very good. Simply re-creating photographs does not mean you're generating good art, especially when your sense of composition, color, and shape is so bad.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:59 PM on February 4, 2008


goo, thanks for the post.

Juan Francisco Casas' work is pretty astonishing. Not only is his photorealism aspect amazingly accomplished but the images he chose to create are quite fascinating. They're the sort of vulgar and intimately private photographs one would throw away as meaningless, the off moment, when nobody was posed prettily. Licking the ketchup off one's fingers eating McDonald's fries, gutter tastiness. Moments that still capture something quite personal, raunchy, sort of ugly and raw but also compelling.

Just cool too.
posted by nickyskye at 1:04 PM on February 4, 2008


I like them. Thanks for the link.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2008


The sheer scale of the pictures isn't obvious from the linked gallery - they are large to huge.

I think there is a distinction between whether one thinks art is good or bad, and how much one personally likes it; somewhat like food nutrition and food taste. In this case, I think the art is very good, but I don't like it. The framing and subject of the pictures is too much the same - all with a kind of "MySpace/Facebook photo" feel to them. (Unsurprisingly, the artist has a MySpace.) Seeing one is great; having seen three or four, I feel no real desire to see the rest.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2008


What's that rule of art? If it's not good, make it big?

Anyway, I thought these were kinda neat.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 1:40 PM on February 4, 2008


I guess I just don't get the double standard that some are arguing here of "Oh, as a photo it would be interesting."

I think they would be pretty dull as photographs too. I mean, maybe they would be cool in color, mixed in with a lot of other types of pictures. But the whole "confined, intimate, flash-lit" thing gets old after a while.
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2008


His technical skill is impressive. I hope he moves beyond realism at some point. I can see some interesting ideas happening, but not fully developed.

It's worth noting that many artists start out scribbling in their notebooks with ball point. I think this sort of art gets a bad rap, because it's seen as indicative of the early stages of artistic development, and it shows the mark of someone who has no formal training. It would probably do Casas some good to get some training with another artist as mentor, if not school (art school is not always worthwhile, but studying with another artist is a different thing).

Seems to me I've read that art with a (typically sharpened) Bic ballpoint is a big thing in prisons, and I'm wondering if that's part of the unspoken underlying context for these.

Well, if so he's not very good at conveying it through the subject matter. Not that art has to be obvious, but I'm not seeing the point of the subtext. One of his drawings features him making a goofy face, standing behind a windswept young woman, sorta like a picture that a friend would take. That's the feeling I get from most of his stuff. That doesn't mean he has no potential, but IMO he has a lot of work ahead of him.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:04 PM on February 4, 2008


I really, really wanted to send these out to family at christmas this year, but there would have been hurt feelings.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't want to hang any of these in my living room, but I'm fascinated by the technique. Maybe it's just because this guy can draw and I can't, but I find these pictures pretty amazing. I wish the web site did a better job conveying the scale and detail. Check out aeschenkarnos's large and huge links to see why.
posted by Loudmax at 3:28 PM on February 4, 2008


Is he doing something to make the ballpoint archival? Or are the drawings being "throwaway" part of the trashy statement? If so, hey - sort of interesting (if not all that special)!
posted by gorgor_balabala at 3:39 PM on February 4, 2008


Simply amazing for a man and bic pen. Wow
posted by mikeo2 at 3:45 PM on February 4, 2008


Or, to put it another way, a high ratio of perspiration to inspiration.

He only needs to beat 99:1.
posted by DU at 3:48 PM on February 4, 2008


Yeah, cause the less inspiration, the better.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 5:18 PM on February 4, 2008


I'm going to have to jump on the pile of "Technically impressive, not terribly interesting."

I love ball point pen as a medium, too. It has a a subtlety and versatility that's underrated, and I enjoy drawing with them myself. I was really hopeful when I clicked the link.

See, for me, the thing is...I honestly don't find photorealism that impressive. It's kind of a parlor trick (something that Chuck Close took pains to point out.) In order for me to find photorealism interesting, I need to find the original photo interesting, and these are sort of amateur pornish. Clearly, it's a lot of work, but in the end, the finished product is just a large image of an awkward snapshot.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:42 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


See also - Dave Archambault, originally posted by XQUZYPHYR and biro-art from Wolfdog. Me, I much prefer the fabulous Mad Meg posted by crunchland.
posted by tellurian at 5:46 PM on February 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


buriednexttoyou: If you can't paint it well, paint it big. If you can't paint it big, paint it red.

Photo-realism, when it's an art form, is historically a form of Pop-Art. It's ironic. The act of taking a (typically banal) photograph and lavishing technical polish upon a giant hand-rendered imitation of it creates a kind of dissonance, which elevates dumb snapshots and cheapens great paintings. Just like you might look at comic books differently once you've seen a Roy Lichtenstein. It's definitely not for everybody, but it is certainly art (if one of hundreds of Jasper Johns' flag paintings is art, so is this)

Photo-realism can also be pretty highly charged in other ways. Look up some Gerhard Richter for examples.

When it's not art, it is 'mere' technical polish. But there's definitely a place for that as well. There is a joy in looking at an artifact and realizing it is made by a person, and that it is very nearly flawless. Hey screw you machines! I can count and draw!
posted by device55 at 6:43 PM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


In my entire life, I've never seen anyone even closely capable of photorealism actually mock it. It's generally some wannabe poseur artiste who couldn't draw flies with a brush dipped in shit.
posted by RavinDave at 8:42 PM on February 4, 2008


There's a bit of a difference between carefully copying a photograph and making a drawing. The artist puts more of themself into the latter, generally.

(Generally. Unless there's a high level of craft in the photography.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:08 PM on February 4, 2008


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