With a flick of a paintbrush, this artist creates surreal celebrity portraits

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

Matt Chessco is an artist based in Vancouver who quit his job as an industrial designer and mechanical engineer to pursue a career as a painter.

Seven months later, Chessco already had over 1 million followers on TikTok, a waitlist of commissions and multiple brand partnerships.

The artist uses acrylic paints to create pop art-style portraits of celebrities and cultural figures like Tom Hanks, George Floyd and Billie Eilish. But it’s really how Chessco showcases his vibrant, punchy paintings that helped him build his following. While most artists on TikTok merely record themselves while making artwork, Chessco portrays his process differently.

Take his portrait of Kylie Jenner for example. Chessco holds two paintbrushes in his hands and waves them around as if commanding the canvas to produce color, highlights and shade.

First, the outline of Jenner appears on the canvas. Then he flicks his brush again and there’s multiple shades of orange. He flicks it again, then suddenly her eyebrows, eyes, mouth and nose are perfectly detailed. Chessco waves the wand again and her features are highlighted with yellow strokes to finish off the striking portrait.

No, it’s not the actual process, but it’s a fun edit of how he produces each step. The pop painting received 5 million views on TikTok.

“If only painting was this easy,” one TikTok user commented.

“Amazing job as always,” another wrote.

“It’s so cool!” a user added.

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