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Today's RED Hearts Update: Entertainment

The Best Badly Drawn Celebrities

11-20-14
By Carey Dunne, 25, reporting from Brooklyn, NY, on a new book that sheds new light on drawing the famous

Sometimes the worst drawings are the best drawings. At least this is the case in Matthew Draws, a new book of 61 hilariously awkward celebrity line drawings by technically unskilled illustrator—that’s the fun of it all—Matthew Swanson. His primitive portraits make Hollywood’s beautiful people look like deranged criminals, and he describes the book as “part guessing game, part artistic statement, and part sociological experiment.”

He’s made great entertainment out of this awful portraiture. (Just tell me you’re not already trying to make sense of the celebrity you’re looking at here.) Readers attempt to identify who’s who, and can see previous contestants’ various guesses.

Can you tell that that eye-bagged ghoul is supposed to be the illustrious Meryl Streep? (If this gives you a sense of howmuch room there is for interpretation, incorrect Meryl guesses include Glenn Close, RuPaul and Michael Jackson.) Does that froggy-lipped, demonically-grinning zombie really represent Julia Roberts?

Sure, some subjects have identifying features that turn into giveaways—the Dalai Lama’s hands in prayer, Spike Lee’s baseball hat and glasses—but others are pretty certain to stump you until you check the answer key.

They’ll also quickly humble you if you try to draw your own—and give you new respect for Matthew’s brave attempts. The guessing game has turned into a you-can-too meme of sorts,with unschooled artists around the web trying their hand at celebrity portraiture and making their friends guess the identities of their famous subjects.

See the most recent “Readers Draw” contest results.

Swanson’s wife, Robbi Behr, is an actual talented and technically adept illustrator. The couple runs Idiots’ Books, a small independent press that publishes what they call “picture books for adults,” including the appealing series titled The Baby is Disappointing. Usually, Swanson sticks to writing words, and Behr does the drawing.

But when Swanson tried his hand at illustrating, they found the results odd and hilarious enough to deserve publication. Matthew Draws was born, available now ($10) from Idiots Books.

Inspired for RED Hearts, I attempted my own celebrity sketch—in blue Bic ballpoint on an eco-friendly paper napkinat a coffee shop. The result was creepy. See if you can guess which actress this is supposed to be (hint: She may or may not be a shining example of the genre).

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