3 Benefits of a Hand-drawn Portrait Versus a Photo?

A thought crossed my mind the other day as I finished up a graphite portrait. “What is the benefit of a hand-drawn portrait versus a photo?” I wanted to put myself in the shoes of a client and really attempt to understand the value of having my family and I drawn as oppose to having a photo.

3 reasons to have a hand-drawn portrait over a photo:

1. Timelessness that can only be captured by an artist:

For centuries, the rich and powerful have had their portraits painted or drawn. This was not only to display their prestige, but to keep record of who they were and what they looked like. In this day and age we have the instant gratification of digital photography. Photos can be taken at any given moment, then quickly edited with filters and immediately uploaded to social media. I love being able to do this, and it has its place. With this immediate digital age we live in, the human element is lost when portraying a person, a beloved pet or a homestead’s character.

The element in-between the subject and the final project is the artist. As I look at the subject I am drawing or painting I see and process the many details that make up the structure of the subject’s face. As I lay my brush or pencil to my canvas I am giving my interpretation of what I am viewing and in that how I perceive this individual’s personality and the mystery of what makes them tick. I love doing portraits because I get to hear part of a family’s backstory.

Custom Hand Drawn Portrait, graphite pencil

2. The ability to customize the final piece:

Sometimes when I begin a custom portrait, the client wants me to add another family member from a different photo, from a different time, taken in a completely different location. Now the client has a whole new memory presented to them in a consistent style.

The sky is the limit on what can be created in a hand-painted/drawn portrait!

Whether the portrait is created in graphite or is painted with acrylic, the client now has a choice in what style they would like to see on their wall. A photo can only mirror exactly what it sees, whereas a hand-drawn portrait is limited only by our imagination. The background in a hand-drawn portrait can be omitted, changed to another color, or the setting that the subject/s are in can be changed.

Here is an example of a custom portrait collage. In this particular piece, the father, a physician at Duke University, was retiring. I was commissioned to create the piece adding elements of what he held dear to his heart, helping tell his unique story.

3. The value of having an heirloom quality, hand-drawn portrait to pass on:

A custom hand-drawn portrait is a heirloom and a priceless piece of art.  It is a family member, loved ones or maybe a pet who is captured in a moment in time on canvas forever.  I love creating custom portraits because I have seen what joy it brings to the family. Portraits that I painted or drew years ago are still proudly displayed and pass on to their family members.


In this portrait I was asked to incorporate two stars which represented tattoos from her grandfather’s hand. I love how each portrait tells a story, everyone has a story!

Everyone has a story! I would love to help tell your story with a unique portrait that you can be proud to pass on to your future generations. Click here to begin telling your unique story through portraits!

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