I Had My Facebook Portrait Painted by Matt Held

matt held jillian mcdonald

Listening to the archives of my favourite radio show, Q, today I caught an interview with authors Lianne George and Steve Maich, whose book The Ego Boom talks about “The You Sell”. Advertisers and marketers no longer tell us we’re not good enough / beautiful enough / thin enough and therefore need their products to become better, but rather affirm we are perfect the way we are and nevertheless need these products to maintain our perfection. Because kids are taught that everything they do is special and excellent, narcissism and a responsibility-deficient culture suffuses the generation.

An article titled, Enough About Me. Like My Portrait? Appeared in The New York Times a few days ago, suggesting that Hollywood figures who commission their own portraits are narcissistic, though they sometimes feel guilty or awkward about displaying the results. But is everyone who has their portrait painted a narcissist, in an age where we can and often do take any number of photographic portraits, and even Photoshop ourselves into perfection?

I don’t consider myself a narcissist, although I appear in a lot of my own artwork. And although I’ve known many musicians, writers, and artists I have never before been the subject of any one else’s artwork, poem, story, or song. To the best of my knowledge. Which is probably a good thing. Unless you count Mike Peter’s Stolen Kisses, which I would count except that the subject is arguably not me, but rather the character I play in my video, Screen Kiss.

A longtime proponent of participation-based artwork, particularly when the participant gains something in the process in a generous gesture by the artist, I read with interest some press about painter Matt Held’s Facebook portrait project earlier this month. I joined his Facebook group, “I’ll have my Facebook portrait painted by Matt Held”. Held’s portraits in general are absurd, unlike the typical Hollywood portraits – there’s self-assured Angie in a blue fun fur bird-monster suit; bald Ardalan licking a larger-than-life pink ice cream; and wide-eyed Jessica drinking a glass of wine bigger than her head. But more that that, his project opens up portrait painting to ordinary people, his “friends” – real and virtual. At the moment I’m writing this, the group has 2,100 members, most of whom – unless Matt donates the rest of his life to the project – may never see their portraits. Somehow I got lucky – you can see my portrait above and the original photo avec Billy Bob tattoos, below.

Visit Matt Held’s website for more info, and join his group quick, while there’s still room.

jillian mcdonald billy bob tattoos

One Response to “I Had My Facebook Portrait Painted by Matt Held”

  1. CampBlood Says:

    Wow, that’s pretty awesome!

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