Artist Cris Clapp Logan dishes on her Insta-business and creating the presidential look for this issue’s cover story.
Artist Cris Clapp Logan
A communications pro turned stay-at-home mom, Cris Clapp Logan started her popular Instagram-based art business (@crisclapplogan) as a creative outlet. “I started with a few animal paintings for my kids’ nurseries and shared them online, mostly for family and friends,” she says. Soon after, she discovered an interest in portraiture of influential people, sharing some early impressions of Martin Luther King Jr., Harper Lee, and David Bowie, and eventually she began doodling daily life around DC. A year later, she’s garnered nearly 8,000 followers with her feed and has been commissioned to draw and paint (her medium is a mixture of watercolors, brush markers, and ink) everything from pet portraits to street-style depictions of fashion bloggers.
We had to produce this issue before the election, which meant you had to create two versions of the portrait to open this story. What were some of the challenges? CRIS CLAPP LOGAN: I’ve done quick sketches of both Donald and Hillary for my Instagram, and I usually draw Donald with a pout and Hillary with a bit of a rigid smile. When I started my initial pencil sketches for the cover, I wanted to leave all of that behind, but it took some time to get it just right!
What did you hope to portray with each? CCL: Regardless of my own opinion of the candidates, we all want the country to be better off in four years, so I wanted them to look presidential and even hopeful.
Was one more challenging than the other? CCL: Trump was much easier than Clinton. I think Trump’s expressions and hair are so distinctive that it just flowed. I realized as I was working on Clinton that her facial expressions remind me of my grandmother who recently passed away, so I struggled some with the closeness I felt to that portrait.
How long did it take you? CCL: I spent about four hours on Trump, from my first sketch to the watercolor and ink application. The final Clinton we chose took about five hours, but I created four different Clintons, so all in, I spent about twenty hours getting to the result we wanted.
What materials did you use? CCL: I did an extremely studied pencil sketch and then layered watercolors, ink, and a little colored pencil to achieve the final results.
How was it similar to or different from other portraits you’ve done? CCL: Overall it was fairly similar in style and medium to what I do for my clients, but I used a bit less color and whimsy since the subjects needed to look fit to run the country!
You’ve been actively Instagramming for about a year—what’s your most memorable moment? CCL: Either when John Galliano shared my sketch from Maison Margiela or when Jessica Lowndes said she loved the NYFW front row sketch I created of her.
How would you describe your style? CCL: I’ve heard people say my work is very colorful and gestural. My style tends to be pretty loose, with a lot of movement. Often I’m trying to capture the essence of someone without focusing on every detail.