Sunday, 21 July

Burna Boy's response surprises typewriter artist

The portrait, that only uses letters that feature in the name Burna Boy, was commissioned by the Californian music and arts festival

An artist who uses typewriters to create portraits was "pleasantly surprised" to receive praise from one of his subjects - singer Burna Boy.

James Cook, 26, from Essex, was asked by the Coachella music festival to make portraits of some of its headline acts.

He posted the artwork on social media and captured the attention of the Nigerian musician.

He retweeted a video saying: "So sick. How long did it take to make this?"

Burna Boy's response garnered more than 800 retweets, over 5,000 likes, over 300,000 views and many comments complimenting the artist's work.

"I was really pleasantly surprised to see that he saw the work and that he liked it," said the 26-year-old, who is from Braintree.

"It's always a vote of confidence because you never know if you're able to convey a good likeness of someone and whether they actually genuinely liked that recreation of them.

"That was the cherry on top of the project."

The A3 portrait of the singer took about 60 to 70 hours of work.

It includes between 50,000 to 60,000 individually typed marks, with some concentrated to create darker areas, like Burna Boy's beard and eyebrows.

| The artwork includes between 50,000 and 60,000 individually typed marks and took 60 to 70 hours to complete

"The paper has gone through the machine at least 60 to 70 times because that's how you build the ink up onto the page to get the darker regions," Mr Cook explained.

"Over a period of 30 to 40 minutes, what you've put on the paper will initially be quite dark, but as it dries it lightens, so you have to keep building the ink to retain those details."

Mr Cook says his portraits work on two different levels: "You stand back and the drawing is revealed and then you get up close and the drawing conceals hidden typed words.

| Nigerian singer Burna Boy shared James Cook's video on twitter saying: "So sick. How long did it take to make this?"

Burna Boy has not been the first celebrity to comment on the artist's work, however.

In May 2022, actor Tom Hanks signed a depiction Mr Cook made of him in 2018 with the words: "To James Cook. This is super! Tom Hanks."

Mr Cook said that getting messages of support from across the world was "incredibly rewarding".

"It's so lovely to see that the art resonates with people," he said.

| Mr Cook was also asked by Coachella organisers to create a portrait of Blondie's Debbie Harry

Coachella took place in April and also featured Gorillaz, Bad Bunny, Wet Leg, Charli XCX, Blink 182 and Bjork.