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This week I sat down with Heather Rooney, an incredible artist whose work has made tremendous noise on the web. Her YouTube channel, which features videos of her artistic process, has pulled over 30 million views, giving her the utmost relevance for an exclusive one-on-one interview with The Hub.
The basics – name, age, major, and hometown?
Heather Rooney, Senior, Studio Art, Naples Florida.
What would you call your technique?
Photo-realism color pencil portraits.
When did you start these?
I started in High School art class. My first assignment was to draw a portrait and I have been improving on the concept ever since.
How long does a portrait typically take?
When I first started, portraits took about seven hours. Because of the intense attention to detail I now pay, it takes about thirty hours to complete a potrait. It is time consuming to achieve the photo-realistic quality.
How many finished portraits do you have and what do you do with them?
I have over one hundred and they are kept in a portfolio. I put videos of the drawing process up on YouTube. I have been asked to do commissions for family, friends, and even a dog in Australia. He was an English Bulldog.
What are you currently working on?
Well, I am doing a series of self-portraits for my Senior Studio thesis. This is a lot different than previous works because I don’t usually draw myself. I am going to put the entire series of portraits into a single Youtube video. In terms of celebrity portraits, I just finished one of Taylor Swift last week.
Very exciting. So you have an incredible following on the internet (246k fans on Facebook, over 30 million views on YouTube). Can you trace this fame to a certain piece?
I remember being excited over one hundred views and five comments. I think my audience grew after I drew the Oscar Selfie. My recent drawing of Robin Williams has been shared all around Facebook and has 3 million views on YouTube. A Harry Potter portrait I did a while ago is really popular as well.
Have any of the celebrities you’ve drawn noticed your work?
Yes. Jimmy Fallon reposed my drawing of him on his Tumblr, Victoria Justice retweeted her portrait, Zac Eron favorited his on twitter, and many others have done similar.
Do you have a favorite piece?
My favorite piece might be the latest one – Taylor Swift. I am pleased with how it turned out, I spent a lot of time on hair detail.
Do you get requests from people to draw them?
I am constantly getting E-mails. I think I have over one thousand that I haven’t responded to because I am too busy. I am constantly asked what my price is, if I can draw you, and if I will sell my celebrity portraits.
Considering that you live in an on-campus dorm, I’m curious to know what your work space looks like.
I work in my room and listen to music as I work. Lately, I have been playing a lot of Tom Day, but it really all depends on my mood. I typically work with a eight by ten sheet of paper and go through a lot of colored pencils. I am frequently at Blick.
So, what are plans after EC?
I am still figuring that out. I love drawing portraits with this technique and sharing them with other people.
Heather Rooney on Social Media
Ian Chemenko is the Public Relations Director for the Hub. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.