Many ultra-contemporary artists, meaning those born after 1974, use fine line drawings to create their figurative, landscape, abstract and realistic works.

Some fine line artists, like Timothy Curtis, began their careers as graffiti artists. Others, like Austin Lee who has an MFA from Yale, have been classically trained.

Austin Lee 1983 – present

The works of Austin Lee begin as computer drawings. He even uses a Virtual Reality headset to get three-dimensional effects that appear in his paintings, prints and sculptures.

Austin Lee, 2019

For Lee, it’s not just the form that he’s interested in, it’s also the vibrant colors that define his work.

“On the computer, the color’s really luminous because of the light, versus a painting’s subtractive color,” he says. “On the computer that’s really easy to make, but then to make that with paint is a little trickier. So for me, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool — how do I paint that?’ If I just made a painting physically first, I might not arrive at that. On the computer, it’s endless drawings. I could just draw forever and there’s no risk and I can try everything.”

Timothy Curtis 1982 – present

Graffiti artists have as many different motives for placing their ‘tags’ in public places as they have in the styles they use for their work.

Timothy Curtis, 2017

For Timothy Curtis, who grew up in West Philadelphia, graffiti was a way of life, a way to have fun. The fun he had on the streets of Philadelphia cost him seven years of jail time.

The jail time was well spent. Curtis studied art history and honed his skills, especially the skill he has of drawing faces.

Smiley faces, embellished with a bow tie or a dollar sign, were often used by graffiti artists when Curtis was beginning to get into graffiti.

In prison, where inmates would receive letters and family photos, he drew portraits of his fellow inmates to send to their families in lieu of photos.

In his work, Curtis continues to use faces as expressions of storytelling. “They are portraits or masks that come from the line I developed through all the things I’ve learned through the years: tagging, calligraphy, art history, fighting, climbing, running, taking, giving, even other artists I’ve learned from and admire. It’s all muscle memory and it’s all included in these lines. They are the result of my history and I hope to learn how to use them properly to tell the story I want to tell. It’s really intense to capture so many emotions on one canvas. I’m trying to get them to be more human and relatable to an actual person, as opposed to being too cartoony or candy looking.”

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Austin Lee, Timothy Curtis or any of the other fine art for sale at VFA.

Keith Estiler. Austin Lee Crafts Whimsical New Artworks for “Aah” Exhibition. Hypebeast. September 16, 2020.
Jessica Stewart. 8 Different Types of Drawing Styles You Can Try Right Now. My Modern Met. August 21, 2019.
Kristen Tauer. Austin Lee Mounts Solo Exhibition ‘Feels Good’ at Jeffrey Deitch. WWD. March 6, 2019.
Joey Garfield. Timothy Curtis: Never One Day Not Having Fun. Juxtapoz. April 2017.