The Royal Tenenbaums, R2-D2, Iron Man: Anthony Coleman draws all your favourites
With graphite, coloured pencil, and protruding noses, the Philadelphia-based artist has probably captured every pop culture figure – and clown – you can think of.
- Liz Gorny
- 31 May 2022
There are some figures from pop culture you’ve seen so many times you can’t imagine ever seeing them captured in a new light – let alone ever being caught off guard by their appearance somewhere. So imagine our joy when we came across the portraits of Anthony Coleman, who, in high-contrast hues, has depicted everyone from Iron Man and Jennifer Lopez to the Pink Panther and Wonder Woman – the latter two captured side by side as unexpected partners in crime – in personality-laden images that manage to retain each figure’s distinct essence with ease.
For those unfamiliar with the Philadelphia-based artist, Anthony’s angular, lively artworks are as unmistakable as his iconic subjects. Compositionally, his forms often protrude outwards, whether through an exaggerated lapel, elf-like ears, or most excellently, noses so long they bonk into the very edge of the page and droop down into the margins. Another key signature to Anthony’s prolific portfolio is “the antenna”; whether visualising Yoda, Alf or Squidward, a line of colour nearly always juts from each subject’s forehead, prodding at the periphery. Clowns are also reappearing motifs – taken from every era, from the evil to sad variety. Expressive and largely devoid of a background or foreground, his images forgo environments to instead focus on what all great portraits should achieve: letting character spill out onto the page.
It’s an approach that’s always been present for the artist; Anthony has always been known for creating art out of anything. Previously, he tells us, his characters have been drawn across the likes of work files, papers, and magazines, which he would then cut out and keep in his wallet to carry with him. In fact, while working at a pizza shop, leftover pizza boxes became Anthony’s canvas to draw across and cut out characters from. Despite working with a diverse range of materials in the past, to this day, graphite and coloured pencil on paper remain the artist’s preferred mode of expression – without a doubt, his trademark.
More recently, Anthony exhibited work at the Outsider Art Fair in New York with Sage Gallery Studio, displaying various depictions, including portraits of video game character Q-Bert and Star Trek’s Worf. But whether you’re a Trekkie or not, looking across Anthony’s extensive catalogue of work, it’s impossible to not be struck by moments of welcome nostalgia. For us, it came from the little additions, like the alien-chest detailing on E.T. and the perfectly fuzzy inclusion of Richie’s (Luke Wilson) tennis headband from The Royal Tenenbaums. Whatever you take from his brilliant practice, we can bet it’ll make you want to open up a fresh page of a sketchbook and fill it with colour, or at least pop on a Krusty-heavy episode of The Simpsons.
Anthony Coleman: R2D2 & C-3PO (Copyright © Anthony Coleman, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.