I know this isn’t really a “gadget” post, or even a “review”, but I made a New Year’s resolution to do more editorials, and more “human interest” pieces – so why not make my first story of the year be something in that vein?  This story started writing itself on Christmas Eve this year, when my sister gave me a gift that just blew my mind.  This gift had such a “cool” and “wow” factor to it, that I instantly had to find out everything I could about the person that made it so I could find out if they did anything else along the same line, and to my pleasant surprise they did.  So what was this amazing gift, and who is this Christopher Nix person?

The gift: a not so simple picture of Pittsburgh Steelers Strong Safety Troy Polamalu, and Christopher Nix is the artist.  This is the story of his works, and a glimpse as to how insane these pictures are.

From a distance, the pictures that Christopher draws look exactly like the persona they’re supposed to; from the other side of the room you literally can’t tell that there’s anything “different” about these pictures.  They all look just like hand sketched renditions of the person or object in question (Christopher doesn’t just do Pittsburgh related things, he also has some other works with a more universal appeal).  It’s when you get close however, that the real magic of what Christopher does becomes apparent.

Each picture is actually a collage of hundreds of other tiny hand drawn sketches, arranged perfectly to create a seamless final image.  From talking to Christopher, I found that he meticulously researches everything he can about the subject of his art, so he can basically draw the person’s life story inside of the picture.  For instance, on Troy’s picture Christopher draws his high school (Douglas High), his zip code, and the fact that Troy has a one million dollar insurance policy on his hair – little facts and tidbits like this are literally littered around the image, and I keep finding more things each time I look at it.

So how did Christopher discover he even had this talent (and if you don’t think it’s a real talent, just go to his website and see, you can zoom in on any of the pictures)?  It’s a touching story of an engineer being short on money for Christmas, and wanting to give something special to a family member.  Christopher drew his first picture for his father, and because of the response it garnered from family and friends he realized that maybe he could be doing this for a living, or at least a supplemental one.  When the company he worked for cut his hours, he was able to spend more time doing this amazing artwork.

Time is definitely something that he needs to be able to make these things though.  Whereas some artists can put out paintings and such in little time, Christopher averages three to four months just researching his subjects, not to mention the 40 to 80 hours he spends actually drawing them.  The result, while time consuming, is absolutely stunning.  I know that this won’t appeal to everyone as the majority of his works are Pittsburgh based (you should see the Penguins logo he has, but it’s not on his site), but there are fans of Pittsburgh sports everywhere (at the one Steelers game I went to this year I met two kids who flew in from California, and a father and son from New Mexico!), and if you happen to know one, then one of Christopher’s prints would be an amazing low cost gift.  Even if not though, things like the four leaf clover, the Canadian maple leaf, the image of a golfer, and the Dale Jr pictures might be more your style.

Christopher also does privately commissioned pieces, of which he sent me two in order to show how they looked.  One was of a baby boy, the other of a young girl (six years old) – and while I won’t post them here because I’m not sure if they’re confidential or not, I will go on record to say that they look impressively like the subjects pictures.  The privately commissioned works are a bit on the pricey side however coming in at $1200, but I would love to have had one as a memento of my son that passed away, they’re just that good.

Right now Christopher is working with a NBA player’s fiancee in order to get a picture of him done, but I hope when that’s finished he’ll move back to doing some more football stars (or hockey for that matter…. where’s Mario?).  For now though, the eleven pictures you can get on his online gallery will suffice (if you can manage to get to one of his physical stores, you can also pick up the Penguins and Steelers logos).  For the $30 price, you get the print put on a very high quality paper (not sure paper is the right word though because it’s thick enough to not bend).  You’ll need to provide your own frames, but you can find some really good ones out there for cheap prices that compliment the pictures tremendously.

You can reach Christopher through his online gallery, or through his Twitter and Facebook pages.