Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's self-confessed rubbish sketcher Declan Higgins a net sensation

By David Young

When Belfast IT expert Declan Higgins picked up his pencil a couple of years ago and began to draw, he had no idea that his pictures would soon become an internet phenomenon, shared by millions of people across the globe.

He'd had no training in drawing, but his lack of skill has proved to be no barrier to finding fame for what he calls his "c**p portraits".

But Declan's naive, untutored portraits have now been viewed and shared by millions of people online.

It's testament to the power of the internet - and to the IT man's marketing skills.

"About two years ago I picked up my pencil and had a go at a portrait," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I thought it would be funny to post the drawing on Facebook, to see if any of my Facebook friends could guess who the drawing was of.

"There was a lot of merriment and laughter about it - no one could recognise who it was."

You can see why.

He doesn't make it easy for people to figure out who the drawings are supposed to portray.

Without the captions, it would be pretty difficult to figure out who's who.

But the spare-time caricaturist had a stroke of marketing genius that has catapulted his works across the worldwide web - and brought praise and laughter from the celebrities he's profiled with his pencil.

"I gathered up around 30 drawings and then I had an idea.," he said. "I thought: I know!

"I'll post one of these on Twitter and I'll tag it to the person in the drawing."

And he hit the jackpot first time.

"The first one I tweeted was of Rob Brydon, the Welsh comedy actor.

"I tagged him, uploaded the portrait and within a few seconds he had retweeted it to about a million people. And within 24 hours I had 200 followers to my Twitter feed.

"That was last October. Since then I've been doing portraits almost every day and uploading them to social media.

"I generally pick comedians and people I think will have a witty response to the drawings."

Focusing on comics and celebs was a smart move.

While Brydon was happy to retweet his drawing, others like Marcus Brigstocke paid tribute to his efforts.

"A splendid piece, full of character, subtlety, nuance and truth - I'm flattered and appalled," said Brigstocke.

And telly controversialist Katie Hopkins said of her portrait: "I love it! Tk you - it's a distinct improvement".

Declan's C**p Portraits have featured in national UK and Ireland newspapers as well as on social media sites across the internet.

The Belfast man also completed studies of Northern Ireland political figures including Sinn Fein politician Conor Murphy, Basil McCrea, and a joint portrait of First Minister Arlene Foster and her Deputy Martin McGuinness.

He has no plans to take any drawing lessons to improve his technique. "I might lose my unique selling point," he said.

"Sure, I'd like to draw better - but I'm only messing about.

"It started off being relaxing, but if it becomes too much I may get fed up with it eventually."

Asked if his newfound fame as a caricaturist would enable him to break out of the dry world of IT and make a career out of his drawings, Declan laughed and said: "What do you think?"

Belfast Telegraph

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