Though NYC (and New Yorkers) have a tough exterior, the truth is that you can find the most beautiful acts of kindness and see the best of humanity living in this amazing city.
And in a year like this past one, it’s sorely needed. Even in the hardest of times, we saw neighbors band together to care for their communities, and people sharing the beauty in each day and in each other.
And one person who continues to do that right now is Bronx-based artist Devon Rodriguez, who has been bringing fellow New Yorkers along on his process of making amazing art of city dwellers, and spreading joy by gifting the stunning works to the very subjects he draws.
Rodriguez started doing subway portraits in 2010, when his art teacher Jeremy Harper shared his own sketchbook filled with subway drawings. He got hooked after, finding beauty in the commuters and daily life, though he didn’t start officially sharing it with the world until a few short months ago. He says that TikTok inspired him to learn video editing and then post his artistic process.
Sometimes he does pencil sketches, and other times he uses paints. Either way, it has completely resonated with others.
Rodriguez now has over 11 million followers on TikTok, and 1.5 million on Instagram. The audiences loved his art, but then wanted to see him to take it to the next level…
“I always made my living as an artist so I always sold my art to make ends meet,” he told us. “After joining TikTok, thousands of people from all around the world commented on my post saying that they wanted to see the person’s reaction. I tried it once to make people happy, and the effect that it had on people was overwhelming.”
He then started sharing the portraits with the person he was drawing, and recording their heartfelt and touching reactions. His videos, which not only went viral, also brought hope to and delighted viewers.
“People told me that my video gave them faith in humanity, helped them with anxiety/ depression, filled them with tears of joy and just gave them an intense feeling of happiness,” he continued. “The goal of my art was always to make people feel good, hopeful, and happy. That response led me to doing it much more.”
“I think it’s something that’s needed during these dark times of the world. I’m honored to have the power of making people happy and I will keep doing so. It’s extremely fulfilling.”
featured image source: Video Still / @devonrodriguezart