Stare closely at the pictures on this page. What do you think it took to create these beautiful images of Amy Winehouse, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and Rihanna? An expensive camera, a precision lens, hours of trial and error from a skilled photographer?
Well, the answer is none of the above.
All of these extraordinarily detailed pictures are pencil drawings, created purely by hand — with no digital trickery — by British artist Kelvin Okafor, whose only tools are a set of pencils, a piece of paper and the occasional stick of charcoal (though most of the pictures don’t even require that). Yet no matter how closely one looks, there’s not a pencil line in sight.
Today, an exhibition of his work opens at London’s Science Museum — and already some of his portraits are changing hands for £10,000 apiece. This week, a portrait he drew of King Hussein of Jordan is to be presented to the late monarch’s widow, Queen Noor.
So how does Okafor create these incredible works of art? ‘Before I start drawing, I spend a few hours — even a few days — analysing the face from every angle. I usually start with the eyes. From there, I make the whole shape of the face and I work in the detail.