Tue, Mar 15, 2011 - Page 13 News List

He’s only got 8 million faces left to draw
畫盡紐約路人 插畫家還要畫八百萬人

Artist Jason Polan stands in Grand Central Station on Feb. 28 working on his project of trying to draw every person in New York City.

Photo: AFP 照片:法新社

Artist Jason Polan won’t be running out of live models any time soon. In trying to draw every person in New York, he’s got at least eight million more to go.

The plan may sound crazy, but Polan, 28, is serious.

Every day he’s out there with ink pen and sketch pad, posting the results on www.everypersoninnewyork.blogspot.com. Three years into the project, he’s up to about 14,000.

“I know I’m going to fail, I won’t draw everybody, but I enjoy trying,” he says.

The artist on this quixotic mission is a quiet, non-descript man with glasses and an anorak. He blends easily into the crowds that obsess him so much.

Many of his targets are moving, but he’s learned to draw quickly, barely looking at the paper.

Polan, a professional illustrator, has a thing for cataloguing. He once sketched every single work of art in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Another time he drew every individual piece in a bag of popcorn.

He may have a meek demeanor, but he scans crowds with the intense concentration of a hunter.

And the goal, Polan says, is not to scratch out any old picture, but some defining characteristic of the person’s look. The sketch must be live, not remembered and embellished later.

“I crave authenticity,” he said.

Part of that authenticity is to keep himself anonymous. Polan never asks permission to draw portraits and he stands at enough of a distance so that he is rarely spotted.

An exception is that he invites members of the public, through his website, to set up a rendezvous. Give him a time, place and rough personal description and he will come to draw you -- although you might never realize.

“I kind of hide. I like to get there early so there’s a surprise element for them when they look at the blog that evening and wonder if I got them,” he said.


1. blend in/into v. phr.

融入 (rong2 ru4)

例: I thought you wanted to blend in tonight. So why wear the bow-tie?


2. defining characteristic n. phr.

明確特色 (ming2 que4 te4 se4)

例: A defining characteristic of Van Gogh’s paintings was his unique use of color.


3. elusive adj.

難以達成的 (nan2 yi3 da2 cheng2 de5)

例: It’s not easy to pin-point exactly where the problem is, so the solution is proving to be elusive.


Polan says the goal may be elusive, even impossible, but that he enjoys this artistic embrace of an entire city.

















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