with Uli Knörzer
Grainy Colored Pencil Portraits by Uli Knörzer Emphasize a Subject’s Distinct Demeanor
Berlin-based artist Uli Knörzer (previously) highlights the signature grainy texture of colored pencils in his faithful portraiture. Whether for personal projects or commissions from fashion labels and publications—many of the pieces shown here are part of a recent project for Tommy Hilfiger—the richly illustrated works hone in on the emotions of the subject. By positioning the figures against monochromatic backdrops devoid of setting, he accentuates the minute details of their facial expressions and body language.
If you’re in London, stop by Trinity Buoy Wharf to see some of Knörzer’s portraits in the group show for this year’s Drawing Prize, which opens on September 28. Otherwise, follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest pieces.
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Rich Portraits Illustrated by Uli Knörzer Capture Subjects’ Idiosyncrasies through Colored Pencil
Fascinated by the transient expressions and feelings of his subjects, Uli Knörzer attempts to capture a moment in time. The Berlin-based illustrator draws richly detailed portraits that are simultaneously revealing and elusive. By positioning each subject against a solid backdrop, Knörzer eliminates the contexts that inspire their particular looks and moods. “Because a tilt of the head and look to the side or a smirk could be just that but by putting it on paper, detached from their surroundings, that fleeting moment can be charged with a completely different meaning. All of a sudden someone very outspoken and extroverted can appear very introspective, etc,” he shares with Colossal.
Always focused on idiosyncracies, Knörzer says his choice in subjects is particular. “It’s always the side scene, someone in the background, or a backstage moment that draws my attention, and I imagine what their ‘deal’ is, so I love to put them front and center,” he says. He then sketches the subjects entirely with colored pencils, highlighting the texture inherent to the medium.
Many of the deflty rendered portraits shown here are part of a commissioned project for Highsnobiety that centers on Black hair. Having previously worked on a variety fashion and journalistic endeavors, Knörzer received direction on styles and runway looks from the magazine and was able to determine the rest. “I had the freedom to draw people the way I saw them in those clothes and with that hair. And that’s how I like it the most,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Knörzer’s background includes a lifelong love of portraiture—he shares that he would draw his teachers as a child and enjoyed paging through books of Tomi Ungerer’s work—and a degree in graphic design and typography from HfG Offenbach. Explore more of his figurative illustrations on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.