Ian Sklarsky

Abstract portraits from a blind contour artist

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When Brooklyn-based artist Ian Sklarsky isn’t directing music videos like Luciana’s Betty White-inspired dance track “I’m Still Hot”, he can be found staring peacefully at the subjects of his abstract blind contour drawings. Originally from Chicago, Sklarsky became interested in the traditional method during a high school art class. Blind contours require the artist to trace his subject’s silhouette without looking down at the paper, and for Sklarsky this means becoming completely zen and allowing his hand to be his guide.


The 30-year-old artist draws anything from pets to people with a simple ink pen, and then applies a dab of water color for a distinctive effect. Having completed more than 700 portraits in the past half-decade—including large-format group pictures over six feet high—we decided to check in with Sklarsky to learn more about his technique. Check out this CH Rough Cut, where he patiently paints Otis, one-half of our Cool Hunting mascot duo.

Sklarsky’s blind contour portraits begin around $65. He finishes each with a wax seal and signature, and also offers the option of an epoxy glaze over the subject area. This varnish turns the paper slightly translucent, and allows you to play around with a back light for a more creative display.

Check out his website for information on commissions or where he will pop up next for a day of portraiture in NYC, or Sklarsky’s Tumblr for more examples of his creative works.