Chicago Artist Paints Pope Francis 'Person of the Year' Portrait

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013  |  Updated 12:10 PM CDT
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Pope Francis' Papacy

Time Magazine

Pope Francis was chosen as TIME's Person of the Year for 2013. It was the third time a pope was chosen for the title.

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A Chicago-based artist is gaining national attention for his drawing of Pope Francis for TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover.

Jason Seiler, who studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, is known for his many realistic drawings and humorous illustrations, which have been featured in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Der Speigel and Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland.

He’s even known for his work in Chicago politics, after he painted an image of former Governor Rod Blagojevich (pictured below).

Jason Seiler

His latest work has thrust him into the national spotlight as he captured the essence of the pontiff for a cover that has made history.

Time's managing editor Nancy Gibbs announced the magazine’s pick on NBC News’ "Today" show last week.

It's the third time the magazine has named a pope its person of the year. Pope John Paul made the cover in 1994 and Pope John XXIII in 1962.

The top nod goes to the person who Time editors think most impacted the news this year, in a positive or in a negative way.

Seiler said he was approached to paint to the portrait earlier this month and “his mind was blown,” according to a YouTube video about his experience.

The self-taught digital painter spent more than 70 hours creating the artwork, a process he simply let happen “organically,” he said in an interview with TIME.

“Capturing this truth, or essence, is, for me, the most important factor in considering a portrait successful or not,” he said.

Seiler said he is now turning his hopes to publishing a book titled "The Complete Artist: How to Succeed in the Creative Industry."

He started a Kickstarter fundraiser to finish the book's production, which he hopes will help young artists find success in the creative industry.

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