Self Portraits With A Twist

The illustrator and cartoonist Michael Mathias Prechtl made this poster for the G. Schirmer music store in New York, back in 1974. When I recently saw it in an old graphic design book, I realized it was time to spice up the traditional self portrait. If Beethoven could have his head exploding with women and music, children could also have things they enjoy tumbling out of their head. Imagine the possibilities.


  • paper
  • pencil & eraser
  • charcoal, pencil crayons…whatever you prefer to draw with
  • collage materials (optional)
  • glue (optional)
  • mirror


1. Sit comfortably in front of a mirror. Have a good look at your face and determine what kind of shape it is (round, oval, etc.) Draw an outline of this shape with your pencil.

2. Now add in features, beginning with your eyes. Place them just above the centre of your face making sure you position them equally.  Add the brows, nose, and lips, taking care to notice the distance between them. Ears and hair can be added last. You can exaggerate the hair near the top so it combines well with the images that will be tumbling out of your head.

3. Make a list of things that will tell us a bit about you and the things you like. Some ideas include types of music, food, flowers, sports, people, etc. If you love autumn, you could include a few leaves coming out of your hair; if there are people or names of bands you like, write them out or tear the letters from magazines; if gummy worms are your favorite candy draw in a few; if traveling is your thing, why not have an airplane landing in your locks. When you’ve made your decision about what to include, you can either draw them coming out of your hair, glue images from magazines, or a combination of both.

A few wonderful examples of self portraits to inspire you:


Jan Van Eyck. 1433.

Frida Kahlo. 1940.

Albrecht Durer. 1491.

Rembrandt. 1634.

Pablo Picasso. 1907.

Marie Bashkirtseff. 1880.


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