We have all seen street artists who hand-sketch quirky and exaggerated caricatures or photorealistic live portraits on the spot, perhaps you even have one of these artworks of yourself from your last holiday. Although these artists might be underappreciated because of the nature of their work, a talent and years of practice that goes into mastering portrait drawings are undeniable and worth recognition.
There aren‘t two same faces in the world. And before you think about twins, let me remind you that not even two sides of one face are symmetrical. This makes the work of a top-notch Saint Petersburg based street artist extremely admirable. Originally from Cheboksary, Nikolay Yarakhtin has been transferring every unique feature of different faces onto blank canvas using just a pencil for 28 years.
"I discovered my talent at 6 or 7 years old. At that time, I was drawing with anything and anywhere," says the artist to Bored Panda. "It could be walls, wallpapers, books, notebooks, albums."
“It takes me about an hour to make a portrait. Looking at the excitement of my clients seeing their portraits brings me a lot of joy and inspires me, It gives me creative energy and motivates to become better,” says the gifted artist, who has met a much larger and diverse audience on the streets of Saint Petersburg than any gallery could ever host.
Observing your model in real life allows you to analyze them in-depth and recreate every unique feature in meticulous detail. As a result, some drawings turn out more true to life than photographs. “When you draw a live portrait, you can see the model better. Unlike drawing from a flat photograph, you can see an actual shape of the face,” says the artist. “This process is much more interesting to me.”
When we asked Yarakhtin about the secret to his life-like portraits, he said: "The secret lies in the way an artist sees a figure. Back in art school, I was taught to look at the figure as a whole, not as a set of details. The principle is to work from the more general to the more specific - from big shapes to smaller shapes. It takes years of practice and knowledge of anatomy."
Although Yarakhtin points out that rainy and windy weather or lack of customers can interfere with his work on the streets, the biggest challenge isn't it. "The most challenging in portraiture drawing is when a model moves a lot. It becomes difficult to capture the likeness."
"When you draw portraits in real-time, you will always have viewers who comment on your work process. I was always interested in those comments," says the artist who admits that work on the streets excites him more although most of the year, he has to work at home.
The artist is quickly gaining popularity not only on the streets of Saint Petersburg, but the Internet is also really impressed with Yarakhtin’s precise work. With over 40k followers, he’s taking over Instagram and is getting commissioned work from all over the world on a daily basis. Staying true to his passion, the artist draws from portrait photos that carefully depict facial features and expressions.
Nikolay Yarakhtin admits that his biggest goal is to collect enough artwork and present his personal exhibition.