Chicago artist Jason Seiler, who created the illustration of Pope Francis for Time magazine's Person of the Year cover, said his goal was to convey his impression of the pontiff as a genuine, compassionate spiritual leader.
goal when painting him was to capture this man's character and
essence," he said. "He is a beautiful person and I hope my painting
While Seiler is not Catholic, he said he has "great respect for who (Pope Francis) is and how he uses his influence."
"From what I have seen of Pope Francis, he seems real and genuine," added Seiler. "He does not abuse his power."
made the comments via email in response to questions from The Compass,
newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay. The artist was born in Green Bay,
where his grandmother, Julaine Seiler, still lives. His parents, Larry
and Debbie, and younger brother Jeremy and wife Ashley all live in
Laona, about 100 miles north of Green Bay.
Seiler moved to Rice
Lake with his family around age 5 and later to Eau Claire, where he
graduated from Eau Claire Memorial High School in 1996. After high
school he studied fine art illustration at the American Academy of Art
in Chicago for two years.
Seiler's illustrations, paintings and
caricatures have graced the covers of dozens of newspapers and
magazines, including Billboard, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Der
Spiegel, The New York Times and Business Week. He said Time's 2013
Person of the Year was a first for him.
"I have never painted the
Person of the Year before," he said. "Not many artists have. Most times
it is a photograph, so the honor I feel is tremendous."
explained that Time first hired him to paint the Person of the Year
runner-up: National Security Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden. "The
art directors were extremely happy and asked if I would like to also
paint Pope Francis. I said, 'Of course.' I had recently done a drawing
of Pope Francis for the cover of Der Spiegel," a German magazine.
to paint on canvas with oils and acrylics, Seiler used a 21-inch LCD
display and digitally painted Pope Francis. It took him more than 70
hours to complete the project.
"I wanted to push it further and
capture him in a more realistic way, focusing on subtle things to
capture his character," he said. "It was important to me that it really
feels like him. I only had four or five days to paint the cover."
to Seiler, he did not know that his illustration of Pope Francis would
grace the cover of Time until the night before it went to press.
researching projects, Seiler said, "I gather as many references as
possible and watch YouTube videos, if there are any. And then I just
Seiler spent a lot of time creating the eyes and mouth of
Pope Francis. "I (first) showed him with his mouth open and I wanted a
closed mouth and softer eyes," he said.
Seiler said he has received "tons and tons of feedback" on his Time cover illustration.
has been a little overwhelming," he said. "It is great for my
professional career. ... A lot of letters and interviews including TV
and magazine, but mostly hearing from my friends and family -- that
means the world to me!"
Seiler said he has painted only a few religious figures in his career, but nothing tops his most recent project.
am just so honored to have been asked to do this," he told The Compass,
"and I hope the pope sees it and is pleased with my work."