Exquisite synthesis: The most influential portrait ever.


My life-long obsession with art and design culminated in an early career as an illustrator. For a brief period my photo-realistic portraits—inspired by legendary 1970s photographers like Guy Bourdin—created with airbrush, colored pencil and color paper, won the admiration of top professionals in New York, Paris, and Milan. That evolved into a simpler, emotive style rendered with pastels or graphite. Which dovetailed with the emergence of The New York Academy of Art, a newly formed school founded on the rejection of contemporary art as undisciplined and, in many instances, unworthy of being considered art. (I know, it’s complicated.) Philosophically aligned with New York’s Art Students League—where I had also studied—the fledgling school was dedicated to reviving the classical atelier system involving analytical study and application of the human form in drawing, painting, and sculpture in the Renaissance style. (The school’s initial backers included Andy Warhol, Sylvester Stallone, and Tony Bennett.)

Awarded scholarship to the school’s first-year class, the focus was on live models—and in some cases cadavers—in the pursuit of anatomical study, where my work flourished. Despite an affinity for figurative art, I came to realize that my post-graduate prospects were dim, ranging from random portraits of Upper East Side ladies-who-lunch, to occasional murals for Italian restaurant. Not exactly the outcome I was hoping for.

Having always loved magazines, I pivoted to a flourishing career as an art director, privileged to work with many top fashion, beauty, and portrait photographers for nearly three decades.

While I remain involved in design and editorial content (see companion site www.heroun.com), it’s all come full-circle as photography replaces illustration, drawing, and painting. The natural evolution of a life immersed in the appreciation, study, and depiction of the human form.


Joseph Heroun



Other work:
Editorial design: Heroun.com
Photography: JHeroun.com

A Heroun & Co. Project

Contact: info@jherounportrait.com

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