For Japanese illustrator Ken Kagami, a fascination with Bart Simpson began “largely because I realised that this would be a very easy form to draw,” he tells It’s Nice That. That was 15 years ago and Ken’s love for Homer and Marge’s son has never drifted far from his heart or artistic practice. First releasing Bart Works in 2015, Ken has returned to his muse for Bart Works 2, a book comprising solely of multiple, slightly mad drawings of El Barto.
Despite drawing Bart for so long, Ken – an artist who works and lives in Tokyo and has had several exhibitions across the world, including being a surprising star at Frieze Art Fair in 2015 – still doesn’t consider himself an illustrator; hence his reasoning for sticking to what he knows (Bart). “I am not an illustrator but I use the vocabulary of illustration for my art because it is easy to draw,” says Ken, “this is the most direct way to get across my humour and my goal is to generate laughter!”
And so, over all these years, Ken has perfected the process for creating interpretative drawings of the Bartman. First, Ken “puts paper on the table” then, “look at an image of Bart’s hair and Bart’s eyes,” before step three kicks in “and inspiration strikes!” By studying the intricate details of Matt Groening’s creation, Ken’s line drawings of Bart are instantly recognisable, despite the fact that his nose can often go from a small little nozzle poking out to being overdrawn, appearing on his face multiple times or reducing massively in scale.
That’s all there is to it so why not give your own interpretation of Bartholemew J Simpson a go, or try your hand to a drawing of Lisa, Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Santa’s Little Helper or Troy McClure a turn too.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.