Emerson College student’s leg doodles go viral
Using pens, the film major drew her first leg artwork one year ago – a portrait of Walter White, the main character from the hit TV show Breaking Bad.
She posted a photo of the doodle online. It went viral and has been viewed nearly half a million times.
Celebrity crushes, favorite television shows, and an occasional cat have found their way onto her leg as she carefully draws with a Pilot Precise V5 pen during class lectures.
Steel was photographed at Boston Common September 19.
The delicate shadings of her work bring to mind a series of pop-culture chiaroscuro sketches. They are documented on her iPhone and then lost to the ages with the help of soap and water.
Since then, Steel has drawn about a dozen more works on her leg, including portraits of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, actor Joseph Gordon Levitt, actor Aaron Johnson, a cat, octopus, an elephant and torn flesh with exposed bone.
“I began drawing on my legs because either paper was limited or I didn’t have any drawing materials on me,” the amateur sketch artist from Florida said in an interview with Emerson College Today, a campus news website run by the school’s marketing and communications office.
“I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember,” Steel told the website. “I guess it comes from practice.”
“It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to do the leg drawings,” Steel added. “My most marketable skill is that I’m able to draw fast.”
She said she only ever uses one pen type – the Pilot Precise V5.
“It’s really inky, so it allows me to spread the ink on myself,” Steel told Emerson College Today. “I’ll wash it off that night. Otherwise it will stay on the bed sheets and my clothes. It comes right off with regular soap.”
She told the publication she drew all of the leg sketches while in class at Emerson.
Professor Cynthia Miller first saw Steel doodling in her class about two years ago.
“I noticed she was sketching during class—usually a no-no—but her work was so good, as were her grades,” Miller told Emerson College Today. “We just made a deal for her to show me what she’d done at the end of each class.”
Miller wound up recruiting Steel to draw the illustrations for her steam punk anthology book, “Steaming Into a Victorian Future,” which recently won the Peter C. Rollins Book Award in Popular Culture Studies.
Steel has received numerous freelance job offers, including to do illustrations for marketing projects from companies across the globe.
Besides her leg, she’s drawn elsewhere on herself, including an eye on her hand.
Sometimes she doesn’t draw on herself at all. She did a bang-up job doodling on this banana.
One of the first jobs that came as a result of the leg doodlings was from a professor who did not mind that Steel was splitting her attention between drawing and listening. Professor Cynthia Miller, who was teaching a class called “Making Monsters” in the fall of 2011, was so impressed with Steel’s work that she asked her to illustrate her book “Steaming into a Victorian Future: A Steampunk Anthology.”
As her doodled masterpieces went viral, they became international curiosities. The story was picked up by websites in France and Britain and in newspapers across Europe. Now a website in Brazil is touting her talents.
Clearly, giving a professor your full attention is overrated. Steel, a visual media, arts, film production major, says she is a straight-A student.