A face among his subjects, talented graphic artist at Total Office Supply, Justin Maas was invited to create a book sharing his expertise on drawing portraits. (Jim Elliott/ Salmon Arm Observer)

Celebrity portraits attract book offer

Talented Shuswap artist Justin Maas shares technique for realistic pencil portraiture

It was a gift graphic designer Justin Maas will never forget.

Just a few days before Christmas 2017, Northlight Books, whose parent company F&W Media produces The Artist’s Magazine, invited the Salmon Arm artist to write a book.

It was something the talented artist had wanted to do for sometime.

Read more: Tweet gets quick reaction

In 2015, Maas got an immediate reaction from Howie Mandel after he published a portrait of the celebrity on Twitter.

By December 2017, Maas counted 180,000 online followers viewing his portraits of celebrities.

The book contract was signed in early January 2018 and Maas worked on the project for about six months, with Drawing Realistic Pencil Portraits Step by Step: Basic Techniques for the Head and Face, hitting bookstores this July.

The first half of the book provides information on materials of choice, understanding how to render a likeness and methods for blocking in drawings.

“The second part of the book is 14 full demonstrations of basically portraits, and 70 to 80 per cent of the people in the book are Salmon Arm residents,” he says, noting portraits of four celebrities are also in the book, including Cary Elwis of Princess Bride fame and Erin Krakow star of TV show When Calls the Heart. “It was a lot of work but they (F&W) do art books so they have it down to a science. They give you a plan so every page builds on the last.”

Using the guidance provided by Northlight Books, Maas was able to work in small increments, so while there was a lot of work, the project moved ahead smoothly.

Read more: Shuswap artists on display

Pleased with the result, Maas is also delighted a feature article on him and his work will appear in The Artist Magazine, one of the biggest art magazines on the market, this spring.

That will likely deliver another boost to his Instagram numbers, which have already grown to 260,000 followers.

Drawing Realistic Pencil Portraits Step by Step: Basic Techniques for the Head and Face is available for preview and pre-order at Bookingham Palace in the Mall at Piccadilly and online at Amazon, IndieBound and Barnes and Noble.

A collection of Maas’ portraits can be viewed at https://www.instagram.com/maas.art.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

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