Rocco Fazzari is the illustrator of our game, Guess the Musician. Having been an illustrator for the Sydney Morning Herald for 28 years, we think Rocco is one of the best in the biz. He has drawn everyone from politicians to popstars. Here is our chat with Rocco about the art of drawing a face and creating our extremely fun guessing game, Guess the Musician (who died before their time).
Nicola from Journey of Something (NC): Drawing people well is a really hard thing to do. I want to start by asking you what is your preferred medium for faces and people?
Rocco: Up until 2 years ago it was paper and ink. But lately I have been using Procreate on the iPad. It allows me to work quicker and I don’t have to go through the scanning, uploading and getting stuff through photoshop. But when I was at the Sydney Morning Herald for 28 years doing caricatures, it was all pen and ink.
NC: DO you find you can still get the same level of detail and capture all the nuances using Procreate?
Rocco: Yes definitely, the contemporary brushes are pretty good on Procreate. Pen and ink are still pretty good, but after 28 years I had thousands and thousands of drawing and nowhere to store them. But now I can store them on a little hard drive the size of a cigarette packet.
NC: One of the things I am interested in when it comes to drawing people is; is there a secret to capturing someone’s likeness? Is there a part of the face you have to get right? The jaw? The nose?
Rocco: One thing to remember is that; people say all the time ‘can you draw me, I will send a photograph’, but we all look different in different photos. You don’t look the same in one photo from another. So, if I was going to draw someone from a photograph, I would ask for half a dozen photos. We look different in every one – it’s the angle, the lighting. And unless you see someone in real life, you don’t really know what they look like. Having said that, celebrities are different because we see them all the time.
NC: It’s my favourite show.
Rocco: Her forehead is the big feature.
NC: And the dramatic stare.
Rocco: Yes, the stare. But I was drawn to the forehead. I thought it was the main thing. But I guess every artist has a different interpretation of someone’s face. There is no real starting point. You have to get certain shapes right and from that point you can build around.
Rocco's Elizabeth Moss:
[See Rocco's digital drawing workshop on Elizabeth Moss here]
NC: it’s interesting what you say about the forehead. How do you stop it from becoming comical or a caricature you would get on the boardwalk somewhere?
Rocco: that’s a good point. I don’t tend to be comical in my drawings of people. I exaggerate features only to an extent that I am saying ‘this is what this person looks like and these are the features that make this person’. I am not laughing at the person or inviting people to laugh at them. I am just inviting you to look at the drawing of this person and say ‘this is what makes up this face’. I don’t tend to do big noses unless they have big noses. I think doing that is a cop out.
NC: Yes, that is what tends to give that real caricature feel.
Rocco: Yeah, I don’t go for goofy.
NC: Who was your favourite person to draw on our game?
Rocco: I thought that I would really like Elvis, but then I got into Biggy.
NC: I love your Biggy and Tupac
Rocco: I like Tupac too. I enjoyed each and every one and I learnt quite a bit drawing them. BBC when you draw someone you really get to study them. So, when I went from one to the other, I found I enjoyed drawings them in different ways.
NC: I am not saying you’re old, but you were drawing prior to Instagram. How has Instagram changed things. How did you even get jobs before Instagram?
Rocco: I was pretty lucky and I drew for a newspaper and in the newspaper my work appeared every day in a column. I had a column., I did all my initial training drawing celebrealities. Every day I would go in to the newspaper and draw people and they would be published the next day, so it was kind of like Instagram. And I used to do other things, for instance book marks of famous Aussie authors. It was different. Newspaper aren’t as popular now that Instagram has taken over. Probably a good thing for artists.
NC: how did you get the job at the newspaper?
Rocco: I went through art school and the week before I finished, I got a job for a magazine doing layouts. I was very bad at it. And there were all these gaps in my layouts because I could never get it right. So, I used to do little drawings in the gaps. That got the attention of a few people and they asked me to do drawings for them. And it grew from there. From there I went to the Canberra times newspaper and then to the Sydney Morning Herald. It was all by accident.
NC: well, we love what you do, Thanks for chatting with us. And we love our Guess the Musician game!