Krystle Tabujara is Toronto-based artist. A former life drawing model, she now makes prolific portraits of people. She also works as the manager of library services for The Beguiling Books & Art and as the logistics manager for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. She has participated in exhibitions in Toronto, New York and Japan.. We talked with her during a night of live portraiture at the Design Exchange.
I worked as a life model at Studio Escalier in France. As a gift for all the students, I drew every single one of them as a stick figure. That was the first time I ever drew anyone. I thought it would be funny if the model turned it around. I didn’t think I had any real drawing talent but I just drew them as stick figures. I used different colours to indicate someones hair style, or a specific line style to indicate someone’s shirt that they wore often.
Really, the portrait drawings stem from 2012, when I was in a band with all cartoonists: Zach Worton, Michael DeForge and Patrick Kyle. The three of them are established published cartoonists. They are all really incredible artists. Because I was the only one with no real drawing experience, they decided I needed to do the album cover so I just drew each one of our faces. We recorded our album, got signed and immediately broke up. The band was a side project for all of us. We were called the Greasy Skeletons.
I honestly look at my subject and draw what I see. It’s incredibly unskilled. I guess I capture their personalities. If someone has an interesting face I’ll take a photo of them and then draw it later. If I’m inspired to do it from life, I’ll ask them to sit for me. If it’s a friend that lives far away, I’ll use Facebook. If I do a portrait of a rapper or an actor, it has to come from Google images. I’ve drawn Gucci Mane. I wanted to draw him so bad because I wanted to draw his ice cream face. He has a tattoo of an ice cream on his face.
Actually, the Design Exchange’s This is Not a Work Party is the first time I’ve done portrait drawing as performance. It’s almost an endurance performance because I’m constantly drawing. I’ve enjoyed myself so much! I didn’t even realize 3.5hrs went by of drawing without a break. Everyone has an interesting face, whether it’s their eyebrows, their pointy nose, or wispy hair. My favourite part about drawing portraits live is getting to look at everyone’s faces intensely and maybe capturing them in a way they can relate to once I’m done.
–Krystle Tabujara, as told to Studio Beat
photos by Courtney Vokey
Visit Krystle Tabujara’s website here.