Award winning artist & author Justin Maas talks art, social media and celebrity

Justin Maas is a portrait artist and author whose “celebrity series” on instagram has become known worldwide.  Justin’s portraits have won countless awards and his book on drawing is an amazon best seller in various art categories.  We are honoured to sit down with him to find out more about his work and what he is up to.  

You have a large following on instagram how did this come about?

Its actually a funny story. I happened to be experimenting with social media a few years ago – right around the time that i decided i needed to do a few celebrity portraits for my portfolio.  Drawings of famous people represent the single best way to show that a portrait artist can achieve a likeness. 

So I decided to draw a few celebrity portraits – the intention was only to do 6 or 8 of them – but something weird happened: I started getting reposts by the celebrities themselves.  By the time the Rock reposted my drawing of him (along with a lovely story about the time we met many years ago) my follower count exploded.  Since then, its just been building on that same principle.

You have been reposted by a lot celebrities – can you tells us some of them?

As well as The Rock, I have been reposted by many others including Martin Lawrence, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Selma Blair, Viola Davis, Carla Gugino, Kate Bosworth, Mr Bean, Paul Walker, Howie Mandel and Luke Evans to name a few.

Do many of them follow you back?

A surprising number actually. Its pretty cool but i try to stay low-key about it as they have their own lives. Its nice when they appreciate my work enough to give a follow though. 

But some have become friends? I recently read that Kate Bosworth and Laura Brown (Editor in Chief at Instyle magazine) were talking about you in Paris?

That was pretty cool. I’ll have to ask one of them what they were saying about me, haha.  Honestly though its a bit surreal at times.  I have done work for some celebrities and met others in real life – all of which is pretty cool considering it all just started out as just me posting drawings of them online. 

Justin Mass

You call yourself a portrait artist – do you only do portraits?

Over the years I have drawn everything – landscapes, wildlife, cityscapes, still lifes – but I have always come back to portraits and figurative pieces.  I can appreciate the beauty of a sunset but I am not particularly interested in painting or drawing it. But a great nose? The shadow cast by a full set of lips? Those interest me & challenge me. That is my main focus as an artist.

Can you tell us a bit about your book? How did it come about, where can you purchase it etc?

The book is called “Drawing Realistic Pencil Portraits Step by Step: Basic Techniques for the Head and Face” and should be available most places. 

I was approached by North Light Books (Now Penguin Random House) to see if I would like to write a book on drawing portraits.  It took about a year to complete, and has been on sale since July of 2019. You can find it online (Amazon, most book sellers etc) or in stores. It should be available in stores all across North America. My understanding is that while there are some shops in Europe and elsewhere that also carry it, its in less-wide release so if you’re not in Canada or the United states, your best bet may be on Amazon or another online retailer:  https://www.amazon.ca/Drawing-Realistic-Pencil-Portraits-Step/dp/1440354618

Do you teach as well?

Yes. I have done a lot of teaching over my career.  Lately I have been so busy this has become difficult but I still do the occasional demo or workshop. One thing I have also just started is creating a series of tutorials on Patreon.  (https://www.patreon.com/maasart) I only created the account a month ago but I am building a complete course of videos to help others learn to draw and refine their skills. So far there’s about 15 demos and tutorials but there will be new ones every week. 

Where is the best place to see more of your work?

Since much of my work is commissioned, a great deal of it resides in private collections.  However, I do post daily on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/maas.art/) and i try to make sure I post at least 4 new drawings or paintings a week.  And of course my website: http://www.justinmaas.com/

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