Joey Salvo: Sketching Self

“Salvador Joey” reads the signature on the first successful portraiture by Joey Salvo ’14, a headshot of Salvador Dalí that he created in seventh grade. He has continued exploring portraiture ever since and has since become a passionate visual artist and skilled portraitist.

“It all begins with the eyes,” said Salvo. “As long as the eyes are right, the picture captures the essence of the person you are illustrating.” Through both simple sketches of friends on Post-It notes and elaborate colored pencil portraits, Salvo strives to reveal the unique characteristics of every person he draws.

Throughout his four years at Andover, Salvo has participated in various art classes in 2-D studies, video and advanced drawing, as well as frequently drawing comics for _The Phillipian_ in addition to his job as a Commentary Editor and exploring the visual arts on his own time. Salvo has fallen in love with drawing portraits in particular and has developed his own way of capturing individuals that combines elements of realism and exaggeration.

“For me, there’s something very intimate about drawing someone else,” said Salvo. “After working on a portrait for an hour or so, you start to feel this delicate connection with the subject, even though all you’re really looking at are a collection of carefully organized smudges. I try to capture this sense of intimacy in my work.”

According to Salvo, the initial moment he realized he wanted to work in-depth with portraiture was when he saw Alexander de Antioch’s “Venus de Milo” at the Louvre when he was in sixth grade.

Of the various elaborate and simple portraits he has produced over the years, Salvo’s favorite is a self-portrait he dubbed “The Docaheadron” that he produced in Drawing II. The colored-pencil piece includes 12 elaborate studies of Salvo’s face and is meant to depict the different emotions and expressions that Salvo experiences.

“‘The Docaheadron’ is definitely my strongest piece,” said Salvo. “To make it, I first found 12 photos in which my head was clearly visible and rearranged them on Photoshop until I was satisfied with the order. I took both expression and head angle as I organized the headshots. I used three different flesh-colored pencils and two hair-colored pencils when actually drawing the heads. The background consists of a colorful checkerboard pattern made out of lime green, dark green and sky blue. Each background square’s color was also meant to correspond to the expression of its head.”

One of Salvo’s proudest moments was receiving recognition for “The Docaheadron” from the community. The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library asked to purchase the piece, and it will be displayed for all to see starting next year.

Although Salvo does not intend to major in art at college, he is certain that he will continue creating art and continue his passion for drawing for the rest of his life.

“The beauty of drawing is that it requires very simple tools and can be done almost anywhere. And yet, drawings can be some of the most powerful works in all of art,” said Salvo. “No matter what field of study I eventually pursue, in college and beyond, I don’t think I will ever give up drawing.”