“What this artist does with pen and paper will shock you” or “This artist’s mind-blowing sketches will make you gasp” would probably be what viral websites would use as titles to get you to click on their stories about artist Kerby Rosanes. Except in his case, these titles aren’t exaggerated click bait; they’re the truth. Rosanes’ sketches, which he casually calls “doodles,” will blow your mind, shock you and make you gasp.
To say Rosanes’ work is popular on the Internet would be a gross understatement. His Sketchy Stories Facebook page has over one million subscribers and he is followed by over 73,000 people on Instagram. It was through his Tumblr and Deviantart posts that he was discovered by big brands like Ford and Nike, and where UK publisher LOM Art (a division of Michael O’Mara books) commissioned him to do an adult coloring book called “Animorphia: An Extreme Colouring and Search Challenge.” This is actually Rosanes’ second book already; the first one, “Doodle Invasion,” was produced by an independent publisher in Finland.
Given the intricacies of Rosanes’ work, it’s hard to believe that the self-taught artist didn’t have any formal training, but the IT graduate from Albay says that he started out through experimentation and practice.
“I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I used to excel in art subjects and would join competitions. When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to pursue this passion for the rest of my life, even though my college degree was not related to art,” says Rosanes in an interview with Inquirer Super.
He got his start doodling while listening in math class. “I used to draw my favorite cartoon and animé characters on my calculus notes. I still have a few of my earlier works, but the others were lost. I’m from Albay, and as you know, it’s a favorite place for typhoons,” adds Rosanes with a smile.
He credits his mom for teaching him that being creative would be an advantage for him. He also cites the sketchbook drawings of Mattias Adolfsson, Johanna Basford, Hayao Miyazaki, Fernando Zamora, and Inquirer’s Jess Abrera as inspiration and influences.
While Rosanes wanted to pursue his art full-time, it was only recently that it became a reality. “I started doodling two years ago. I was working in online marketing for a local company. I always wanted to practice my drawing skills and I’d do so during breaks at work or at home. Since I had limited time to spare, I started exploring line art—just black-and-white drawings on small sketchbooks,” says Rosanes.
He didn’t have a name for his line drawings, but the Internet called them doodles. It was also the Internet that made him famous. “I would give the credit to my wonderful followers on Tumblr and Deviantart. Thanks to their love and shares, my works were picked up by art blogs and became viral.”
Eventually, his doodles began to eat up most of his time. “I chose to quit my day job and pursue the one that is close to my heart—best decision of my life so far.”
At a glance, Rosanes’ doodles show (literally) a big picture of either an animal or alien spacecraft. It’s not until you look closer that you see that the drawing is actually made up of intricate bits and pieces that form the picture. It’s the hand-drawn equivalent of those big photos made from a million other smaller photos.
“I like to describe my art as intricate ink drawings characterized by small, random, whimsical elements that are spontaneously combined to create a whole piece; you have to look more than twice to discover details of the composition,” says Rosanes.
His book, “Animorphia,” is a perfect example of this. “It’s a drawing, color and search book for adults. Jonathan Marx, the editor, reached out to me last year after seeing one of my sketchbook drawings. They wanted to create a new generation of coloring books for adults.”
The book was inspired by his animal portraits that morphed into smaller elements and characters. While the book can only be ordered through Amazon, it will be available locally soon at National Book Store and Fully Booked.
“Animorphia” is Rosanes’ most challenging project to date. It normally takes him eight to 10 hours to finish an A3-sized piece and he goes through five to 10 fine liners every week. A 10-minute time-lapse video shows him working on YouTube. It is fascinating and hypnotic.
Before getting into the zone, Rosanes makes sure he is creatively inspired before starting. He finds inspiration everywhere, from nature and movies, to a random stranger’s tattoo. When not doodling, he enjoys ice skating, camping and traveling. “I make sure to detach myself from my online life; traveling is a great way to recharge the creative mind.”
While he’s done work for major brands, there are two companies on his wishlist that he hopes to collaborate with. “I’ve always loved to draw animals and nature-related themes; a project with National Geographic or WWF would be cool,” says Rosanes.
Rosanes is working now on “Imagimorphia,” a sequel to “Animorphia,” as well as planning for the third title. He is also in talks to have a local exhibition, but there are no details yet. He will be part of a group exhibit in Brooklyn, New York in December.
His advice for aspiring artists? “Don’t ever be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from others who understand your craft or share your passion. Don’t keep your masterpieces, share them to the world. And never, ever quit drawing.”
Visit www.kerbyrosanes.com, kerbyrosanes.deviantart.com, www.facebook.com/kerbyrosanes; follow @kerbyrosanes on Instagram.