Artist of the issue: Aubrey Colwell

Portrait of a woman illustrated with pencil.

Viral video spirals into career opportunities 

From celebrities to interesting people she finds on Pinterest, junior and self-taught artist Aubrey Colwell spends as much of her free time as possible creating realistic drawings of anything that catches her eye.

Her artwork is composed using mostly pencil and graphite, but she also occasionally experiments with colored pencils and oil paints. Colwell uses these tools to create mostly portraits and realistic illustrations. One of her most recent portraits is one of the beloved deceased rapper Mac Miller; other previous drawings include a detailed skull and illustrations of photos she’s found online.

Since she mostly depicts other people from pictures, Colwell feels she doesn’t necessarily draw personal meaning from her art yet. She draws mostly for the creative process, finding that developing a piece is both therapeutic and rewarding.

“I’ll just listen to music and draw for hours straight. I just like being able to create something, seeing the final product, being proud of it, being able to post it and share it with other people,” Colwell said.

Colwell has a separate account on Instagram specifically for posting her artwork and has also posted a few videos displaying her work on TikTok. One TikTok, where she documented the various stages of a portrait she drew from the beginning sketch to the final product, went viral. From this video, she gained a lot of attention which gave way to new opportunities.

“[Social media] actually opened a lot of doors for me. People comment on it and ask me to draw them stuff and they pay me for it. [They’ll] ask me to work with them for their brands,” Colwell said.

She recently began working with an up-and-coming streetwear designer named Astro who stumbled upon one of her videos. He commented on one of her videos asking her to create the logo for his brand. In addition to creating the logo, she’s designed tattoos for people ranging from flowers to Kobe Bryant.

Colwell has appreciated getting to work with other people and brands, and while she doesn’t yet have a clear picture of what her artistic future will look like, she knows that she wants to continue experimenting and potentially branching out to new creative ventures in the future.

“I’ve liked art since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed making art and I think it’s a cool way to spend your time. I definitely want to continue doing it in the future, [either through] tattooing or doing more commissions,” Colwell said.