That's No Photo, That's a Gorgeous Painting by Ashton Gallagher

The Shape of Water, by Ashton Gallagher, is part of his new show at Gallery 1988.
The Shape of Water, by Ashton Gallagher, is part of his new show at Gallery 1988.
Image: Ashton Gallagher/Gallery 1988
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Sometimes an artist is so talented, the line between art and reality can become blurred. Ashton Gallagher is one of those artists, and his latest exhibit just opened up.


Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles just (virtually) opened “Mini-Portraits 2,” the latest solo show of the Illinois-based artist. Once again, Gallagher takes his painstaking, gorgeous realism to the next level, painting lifelike portraits of famous pop culture characters.

“I like keeping the theme simply ‘mini portraits,’” Gallagher told io9 over email. “That way nothing feels forced to ‘fit’ a more specific concept. Most importantly, I love that there is a little something for everyone in the cast of characters that make up this show. It’s a bonus that I happen to enjoy these characters, as well.”

Last year Gallagher tackled Wall-E, Samwise Gamgee, Marion Ravenwood, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Dumbledore, among others. This year, Gallagher keeps that same impressive variety with pieces of the Rose family from Schitt’s Creek, Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Red from Shawshank Redemption, and Marquis Warren from The Hateful Eight. Those are just the non-sci-fi properties. Here are the rest, many revealed for the first time here exclusively on io9.

Sister Night! Deet! The breath on that Velociraptor! Holy freaking crap, right? Do the characters ever stop?


“There is always a really long list of characters in the beginning—no restrictions in genre or media, it is whatever comes to mind,” Gallagher said when asked how he picks his subjects. “Of that list, undoubtedly, there are a few that I immediately know, like Catwoman—yep, this one is happening just because I want to paint that character. So, I dive in from that point. A lot of times, when I’m painting one piece—I’ll get hit for an idea for another and if it works, I will run with it. If it doesn’t, I’ll save it for another time and that idea is added to the ever-growing list.”

Each painting then takes about a week to do, from concept to painting to custom building each and every frame. And if the paintings sell out, don’t worry. There are concept sketches and prints available of all of them. Plus, this is not an idea Gallagher sees himself stopping anytime soon.


“Regardless of how many characters are on the list, I take it one mini portrait at a time,” he said. “When my list starts including the guy in the background sweeping up the Death Star, it will probably time to put a cap on it.”

“Mini Portraits 2" is now on display, and sale, at Gallery 1988.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo