Artist Jason Polan Plans to Draw Every Single Person in New York

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Photo: Jason Polan

Last year, freelance illustrator Jason Polan combined his degrees in anthropology and drawing and painting with his love for "people, drawing, and quantities" into a singular goal: to draw every single person in the city. Since then, he's updated his blog, Every Person in New York, every day with a fresh new batch of drawings. According to the New York Times, the endeavor could take him over 79 years ... if he draws a person every five minutes. But Polan is undeterred. "That didn't make me nervous," he told Daily Intel. So far, he's done about 8,300. In the following slideshow, he shared with us few of his recent drawings.

Additionally, Daily Intel asked the artist a few questions

So do you ever find people that aren't comfortable with your drawing them? Has anyone ever seen you drawing and asked you to stop?
Usually I'm not noticed, because I draw people from a distance. I don't want people to know I'm drawing them. But every once in a while I'll see something, or maybe I'll get a look from somebody if they notice me drawing. If I ever feel anything negative or feel that someone doesn't want to be drawn, I'll immediately stop. If it's a situation where I see a particular person I really want to draw, I'll go up to them and ask if it's okay if I draw them. Those times I'll usually give the drawing to the person because I was so excited about drawing them. So those won't appear on the blog, but I'll still count that I drew that person.

Where do you usually go to draw?
The Museum of Modern Art. I like drawing at museums. I've found that people move at different paces in different parts of the city. In midtown and Times Square and the financial district they move pretty quickly. At MoMA people are looking at artwork, they're in a good mood, so they're moving slowly and I can get better drawings done. I like the natural history museum too.

Has someone ever asked you to draw them somewhere weird?
Nothing too crazy has happened with the project. People have requested I go to pretty faraway spots. I've drawn people at JFK and La Guardia. I didn't have any trouble with airport security. No one really gives me trouble, except when I'm spending too much time drawing at Taco Bell on 14th Street. They don't want you sitting too long.

You have a fair number of pictures of celebrities. Do you go looking for them?
Just wandering around I notice celebrities, because I'm looking at everybody's face. I think it's exciting to see a celebrity, so I'll draw them. I've never talked to any of them, but sometimes I'll get e-mail from people. I did a drawing of Kristen Wiig, and the person making her website called me and asked if they could use my drawing of her on the site. That was exciting.

If you want Jason to draw you, you can contact him at art[at]jasonpolan.com. If you'd like to meet him, you can purchase the deluxe edition of The Every Piece Of Art in The Museum Of Modern Art Book, which includes a guided tour of the museum with Jason, followed by a free hot dog or pretzel.