Copyright Viktor Hertz 2013. Personal project.
‘ICONS’ is a series of portraits of people who somehow have achieved iconic status for different reasons. The portraits are composed of a mosaic of small icons, that have been carefully selected and represent different events and themes from the peoples' lives and activities. The technology behind the images is a bit of digital stenciling and nothing has been done automatically; a very tiresome but rewarding process. ‘ICONS’ is my personal tribute to some of the world's most influential and recognizable people. There are eight portraits at the moment, but the idea is to make lots more of them.
An example of all the icons in a smaller, framed, version. Below are full versions of the artworks, with a couple of close-ups on each one.
I had some fun and hid a visual message somewhere in this close-up; can you find it?
One night in spring 2012, I got a call from Bond Strategy and Influence, a creative agency in New York, who asked me if I wanted to make an alternative movie poster for the Bob Marley documentary ’Marley’. Very honored and flattered, I made a portrait of him, making a mosaic of lots of small icons that symbolize the work and life of the late reggae music legend. Ever since I finished this artwork, I felt compelled to make a whole series of these portraits in the same style and technique- so the Bob Marley pictogram portrait movie poster was originally the seed for ’ICONS’.
I took the liberty to throw in my own signature logo (no, it's not the marijuana leaf) in the artworks, as a part of the mosaic, hidden at the lower right side on each poster.
In this close-up, there are a couple of song pictograms hidden in the grid- can you find them?
The work process
A lined up grid with the icons I've chosen for the portrait- in this case, Twiggy. 99% of the icons come from The Noun Project, where I've downloaded free icons, but also bought lots of them.
At this stage, I have chosen the icons I want to use for the portrait, and I've started to randomly spread them out in lines. I did this manually, using the drag & copy, align center and order automatically evenly distributed. And then I would repeat this for ages, until I had the canvas covered.
Here is an example of how I've put the icon grid on top of the photo (later simplified using 'cut-out' in Illustrator), and then starting the process by deleting the ones that are outside the silhouette.
Here I have deleted the icons outside the head, and also some of the areas in the face.
Three close-ups on one of the areas I "coloured" with icons. I manually selected all the icons that overlapped a certain area of the simplified face. I then grouped them together in different layers in Illustrator, to keep them apart and easily being able to select one area of the face and change it's color.
A screenshot from the final version of Twiggy, before colouring.
Marilyn starting to take shape- seeing the results after hours of just clicking, copying and selecting icons was very rewarding and made it all worth it.
Another work-in-progress of Marilyn. The process has been very lo-fi and non-automatic; there are probably lots of better ways to produce random grids with objects, but I really like the idea of keeping the technique as simple as possible (read: I don't really know other ways of doing it). I also left lots of small ”mistakes” and rough edges from the mosaic, wanting to keep a human touch to it, not making all the details perfect. I really wanted them to look rough and edgy, when looking at them from a short distance, and then see the face appear more and more smoothly, when taking a step back.
Bob Marley's well-known portrait starting to show a tiny bit. The eyes in these portraits were a very crucial area, it could depend on just one single icon in the wrong spot, and it would make the eyes look weird, even from a far distance.
An early test draft of Salvador Dali, who ironically enough never ended up in the final list of finished artworks. I wanted to see what size the icons should be, when printed out on a 70 x 100 cm area.
Without quick access to a large digital printer, you have to get out your scissors and tape for once!
I never finished this draft, and you can see that the icons are a bit short in numbers. Dali is on the to-do-list now, though, so expect him in the near future.
Some photos from the ICONS exhibition at Scandic Grand Central in Stockholm. Canvas prints sponsored by Photowall.se. Photos by Jenny Farida.
I printed the ICONS on 100 x 120 cm canvas for this art show opening (June 15, 2013) at Scandic Grand Central in Stockholm.
Thanks for viewing my project, I appreciate it!