Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Freddie Mercury--digital pen and ink study.

Not a caricature, but more of a stylized portrait, this man's features (and voice, and songwriting) have always intrigued me, and maybe that's why I find him difficult to caricature. His teeth are an obvious target for many caricaturists, but there are so many other things that make him worth a second look.

Part of the reason his looks seemed so exotic, and wasn't really widely known until after his death, was that Freddie Mercury was a member of a tiny ethnic minority, the Parsis, based in India, but which originally came from Persia (modern-day Iran). His birth name was Farrokh Bulsara, and he attended an English boarding school in Mumbai for most of his childhood. The Parsis, who follow the extremely ancient Zoroastrian religion, have intermarried among themselves for generations; as a result, they have a characteristic look and Freddie was a good example. Even his famous teeth were due to a common genetic mutation in Parsis--he and his mother had extra molars which pushed out the front incisors. There are only an estimated 100,000 Parsis left throughout the world today.

Freddie downplayed his background during his lifetime and instead embraced the British rockstar lifestyle. In this wonderfully done caricature (which I have not been able to find any information on...I'd love to know who the artist is/was, and the circumstances of its creation) which graced the sleeve of the 'Somebody to Love' single in 1976, it's obvious that Freddie and the rest of Queen had an affinity for our artform!

Yet another reason I find him so interesting: he was an accomplished artist! He didn't call himself one, in the 'painterly' sense of the word, but Queen's logo and their visual sensibility were all Freddie's. And you can't look at this pencil sketch of Paul McCartney, done while Freddie was a college student (he had a degree in graphic design) and not be impressed by its likeness and sensitivity.

I find it amazing that Freddie drew one of his musical idols while in college and ended up singing onstage with him at Live Aid twenty years later!

And now it's been almost twenty years since Freddie's untimely death and his talents are still missed by many.


  1. Love the portrait and never knew that about him. Very interesting.

  2. Thanks, Brian! Yes, Freddie's off-stage personality was very private and what few interviews he did focused on his music and not his pre-fame life. But his looks are intrinsically part of his stage persona...

  3. Bravo Emily !!!
    I loved Freddie on the top...
    Very good art...

  4. Hi For your info. I'm the illustrator who drew that illo many moons back. Alas Ive no idea where the original went. Here's a link to a couple of my sites : www.miko-cartoon.com and www.miko-greetings.com . Thanks for you lovely comment about my work .