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Miramelle's avatar

Friendly Heckler

Drawing people in public is fine! The only problem I've ever run into is someone catching on and then nonchalantly trying to pose. (Stop that! You don't naturally arch your back and suck in your stomach! Go back to that relaxed slouch, this isn't about you!)
Kupocake
Pssh, I start downright acting like the people I watch sometimes in the middle of public just so I can get a gist of how they move. I'm completely embarrassing to be around.
Does that mean you run into the problem of making the same face as whoever you're drawing? And then when you're drawing a goofy expression it slowly dawns on you that people are staring at the really weird face you're making? (Or is that just me?)
I used to be rather shy about drawing people and public, and I'd always try to be very discreet. I don't think anyone has ever noticed, but sometimes I feel more awkward because of the people around me who see that I am drawing a stranger. There is only one incident that really sticks out... One day I was drawing in a mall food court, and some strange old man came up behind me and surprised me. He sat down next to me and started to compliment my work. Then he got really quiet, and I was a little scared.

And then he told me what sounded like his life's story, and by the end of it half an hour had passed in his company and I was near tears. His sister used to design dresses in Germany, but when WW2 swept around they were separated. His sister was taken somewhere and he himself was on the move because they were Jewish. He kept all of his sister's drawings because it was all he had left of her, and he even said that "foolishly I'd hoped that she'd be able to continue what she began, that we'd both be able to carry on with our lives after it was all over and done with."

And he never saw her again. To this day he has no idea if she is still alive, or of her whereabouts. He rolled up his sleeve and showed me the string of numbers tattooed onto his forearm. I was in a state of shock during all of this- really, it felt like an out of body experience. I'd never expected something like this to happen in a mall food court. Then he got up and told me to keep drawing, and slowly limped away.

I don't even know his name. I'm sorry. That was totally unrelated to the topic at hand- it's just that I can't stop thinking about this lately, and I had to tell someone. I've stopped drawing, at least on paper, and I felt like I couldn't let his story die with me.
SUNGLASSES.

That being said, if they are in a public place, then that's what they get no matter their feelings. If they are uncomfortable, they are free to leave. If you are in a place of business it is up to the manager to figure out if it's appropriate to keep you drawing their customers.
Kupocake's avatar

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Miramelle
Drawing people in public is fine! The only problem I've ever run into is someone catching on and then nonchalantly trying to pose. (Stop that! You don't naturally arch your back and suck in your stomach! Go back to that relaxed slouch, this isn't about you!)
Kupocake
Pssh, I start downright acting like the people I watch sometimes in the middle of public just so I can get a gist of how they move. I'm completely embarrassing to be around.
Does that mean you run into the problem of making the same face as whoever you're drawing? And then when you're drawing a goofy expression it slowly dawns on you that people are staring at the really weird face you're making? (Or is that just me?)
Oh, all the time. I've basically taken the "haters gonna hate" route, in that regard. If I come off as eccentric and probably insane, then they're probably right. XP
Imalyose's avatar

Distinct Gekko

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Annie Felis
There's no laws against drawing other people, you just can't use their likeness for commercial purposes without their permission. If it really bugs you that people can see you looking at them, try wearing sunglasses.
this. also, generally, when you sketch people in public they don't hold still long enough for you to get more than vague facial features or a gesture drawing. If you are trying to practice AND draw enough details that a person would be offended you drew them, then you are probably drawing too slow and copying too much for the practice to actually help you. The thing about drawing people in public is it forces you to focus on the major things first and foremost, so that when you go to draw a real in depth picture, you know what to look for. It's also supposed to help you focus more on describing a certain movement with lines, rather than copying exactly. Or at least, it's that way for me.
Imalyose's avatar

Distinct Gekko

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Vyscaria
I used to be rather shy about drawing people and public, and I'd always try to be very discreet. I don't think anyone has ever noticed, but sometimes I feel more awkward because of the people around me who see that I am drawing a stranger. There is only one incident that really sticks out... One day I was drawing in a mall food court, and some strange old man came up behind me and surprised me. He sat down next to me and started to compliment my work. Then he got really quiet, and I was a little scared.

And then he told me what sounded like his life's story, and by the end of it half an hour had passed in his company and I was near tears. His sister used to design dresses in Germany, but when WW2 swept around they were separated. His sister was taken somewhere and he himself was on the move because they were Jewish. He kept all of his sister's drawings because it was all he had left of her, and he even said that "foolishly I'd hoped that she'd be able to continue what she began, that we'd both be able to carry on with our lives after it was all over and done with."

And he never saw her again. To this day he has no idea if she is still alive, or of her whereabouts. He rolled up his sleeve and showed me the string of numbers tattooed onto his forearm. I was in a state of shock during all of this- really, it felt like an out of body experience. I'd never expected something like this to happen in a mall food court. Then he got up and told me to keep drawing, and slowly limped away.

I don't even know his name. I'm sorry. That was totally unrelated to the topic at hand- it's just that I can't stop thinking about this lately, and I had to tell someone. I've stopped drawing, at least on paper, and I felt like I couldn't let his story die with me.
He should go on reddit. That site is amazing when it comes to finding missing people or info.

._. My 13 year old cousin thinks it's funny to make jokes and claim to be a Nazi, and have a swastika in his facebook pictures. He thinks it's all a big joke. He told me how he got in trouble for it in school and how unfair the teachers were for not being more laid back. I wanted to hit him. I tried to explain that people are still alive that lived through that, that it's like making fun of people who died in a school shoot up. He just didn't get it. Thankfully, I know it's not because he is spiteful. He's just an idiot. /sigh
Rosy_Owl's avatar

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I've never drawn strangers in person. I have drawn strangers from references that I've found online, which to me doesn't seem unethical because the pictures are online and I don't know the people. Of course, it is much better to draw from life. But the only difficulty with drawing strangers in public is that it may make them feel uncomfortable, especially if they are uninformed...Personally, if you'd like to draw people from life, I would stick to family or friends, or maybe go to a figure-drawing class. Drawing strangers may be fun, but, unless it's from a significant distance, it may come across as somewhat creepy, unfortunately.
Laila_Moonflow's avatar

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I really enjoy looking at people for inspiration. I usually won't draw the actual person but I might take their pose and apply it to a picture so that I can put one of my characters or just a random imaginary person in that pose or that particular facial expression.

However, occasionally I'm so drawn to a person that I'll draw them and one time a person was really excited when they figured it out and they actually came over to look at my stuff and ending up asking to buy one of my sketches! heart
I am an art student and I find myself doing this sometimes, but I always feel a little awkward! whee

I think I would feel a little weird (Maybe a little flattered) if I found out some random person was drawing me, but I still feel like I learn a lot by doing the qucik sketches since I never know when they're going to move.
Best rule of thumb: If someone spots you drawing them and looks upset and/or asks you to stop, then stop. Simple as that.

You can try explaining the benefits of drawing candid strangers but it's probably just easier to say "Okay, I'm sorry. I'll stop." and move on to drawing someone else.

I do most of my public drawing at baseball games to be honest. The players have no idea there's someone in the stands doing gesture drawings every time they hunch forward in anticipation of a play or every time they wind up or every time they take their batting stance etc so no big deal there.

But I -have- attempted to photograph people before and that's been more difficult for me. Sometimes I manage to snap shots of people without their knowledge but there have been other times I've wanted to take a sort of portrait and been turned down. It's disheartening especially when you're inspired, but as I said before, the best thing to do then is to respect their wishes.
I sketch random strangers all the time. It's a great way to pass train journeys.
NuMedia Millie's avatar

Prophet

part of being an artist is having no boundaries.
You could gain permission from the person you're drawing or just be wary of the persons reaction to you looking and drawing them.
As an art student and a professional artist I have struggled with this myself. I haven't actually ever sketched some random person ( even though its been brought u and I've wanted to on plenty of occasions) I just don't like to. I don't feel right. I like to have permission to use a model, seeing as I use professional live models quite often. Some people really don't appreciate it at all. But it is entirely up to you. I've known people to snap pictures on their phones of people too and then use those for a painting or sketching which I find is crossing a line even more so. Most models wont even let you take pictures of them without paying them or at all for that matter, so where do you draw the line? Pun intended.

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