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March 12, 2014

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Subway sketch artist is an Internet sensation

A COMPUTER games designer has become something of a celebrity after his sketches of Metro commuters found a following on the Internet.

Xiao Ji, 27, said he began sketching people on the subway in January after growing tired of playing cellphone games on his 30-minute daily commute.

“I used to be a cellphone addict, but one day I looked up and realized that the people around me were far more interesting. So I started drawing them,” Xiao told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“Sketching puts me in a good mood for the day ahead, and it’s also a great way to improve my drawing skills,” he said.

After building up a portfolio, Xiao decided to upload his work to his microblog and WeChat accounts.

He now has more than 40 drawings online and is referred to by his followers and fans as “Metro Sketch Guy.”

Xiao said he doesn’t have any system for selecting his subjects, though he generally prefers people who are sitting down and engaged in something, as they move less and are easier to draw.

In one picture, a chubby girl is shown with a donut above her head. He said his subject told him her nickname was “Donut” because of her large build and optimistic attitude.

Most people don’t notice when they are being sketched, he said, but those who do are generally happy about it and sometimes strike up a conversation.

“I’m happy to chat, but I prefer to draw in silence, because when a subject is unaware of what’s going on their expressions are more natural,” he said.

“Also, I only have about half an hour so if I chat too much I don’t have time to finish.”

The latest addition to Xiao’s portfolio shows a man with big ears and towering hair. He titled it “Monkey King” in reference to the famous fictional character.

“I’m surprised how many people like my paintings. I just wanted to show the interesting things I see on the Metro and make people happy,” he said.

Xiao’s days as a Metro artist are numbered. He’ll have saved enough to buy himself a car soon. “Having my own car will make my life easier,” he said.


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