The Amazing Photorealistic Portraits of Monica Lee

Malaysian artist Monica Lee is garnering global attention for her photorealistic pencil portraits. Growing up in the business of photography, Monica’s early fascination with perfect detail has blossomed into an art form that is taking the world by storm. We caught up with Lee for further insight into her painstaking practice.

Walk us through your journey to where you are today.

Ever since I was a child I loved to draw and wanted to become an artist. After Art College, I didn’t pursue a career in art. I didn’t think I had the talent for it. Instead I worked for as a digital image artist in my dad’s photography studio for 12 years. In 2013, I came across some drawings on Instagram and I was inspired to try drawing again. I realized that drawing was still my passion so I decided to quit my day job and become a full-time artist.

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What has been your most significant moment as an artist?

To me, the decision to quit my day job and pursue my dream of being a full-time artist is my greatest achievement so far.

Do you have a favorite piece?

“Alisa” was the first portrait that I did and was a huge turning point for me. People began to take notice of my work.


What are the challenges that arise with hyperrealistic drawing?

I’m not as productive as I would like to be. As most of my works are quite detailed, it can be very time consuming and tedious work. One drawing can take around 2 or 3 weeks to complete. My piece titled “Rhino” took 3 months to complete.


What is it that drew you towards hyperrealism?

When I first came across hyperrealism I was totally blown away by it. I said to myself, “Now this is the kind of art I want to make.” And because I grew up appreciating photography, hyperrealism appealed to me.


Who inspires you?

I’m a big fan of Dirk Dzimirsky and Paul Caden. Their work is just mind-blowing. Any artist who is passionate about their art and their willingness to share their skills with others inspires me.

If you could give a beginning artist one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t let anyone, especially yourself, tell you that you are not good enough.


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