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New York subway portrait artist Devon Rodriguez is the most followed artist on TikTok


New York City-based artist Devon Rodriguez has become a viral sensation. In the past year, he has garnered nearly 20 million followers on TikTok by posting videos in which he draws portraits of people riding the subway and then gives the finished artwork to his subjects. Today he is the most followed artist on the social media platform.

“It’s my favorite thing to do,” said Rodriguez The Today Show. “I’ve always said that if I could draw portraits for the rest of my life, I would be happy.”

In the videos, Rodriguez begins to sit in front of a person on the subway. The camera that records the scene is positioned from its point of view. First he takes a quick look at the person opposite him and then starts sketching.

At the end of the edited 30-second video, Rodriguez has completed a realistic and impressive drawing. Then he gets up, attracts the attention of his subject and hands him the work of art. “I drew you” is the phrase he usually uses when giving the gift.

Rodriguez started out as a graffiti artist in the Bronx, but soon realized that he was more interested in realistic drawings and paintings. When the pandemic broke out last year, he decided to use the subway as his art studio and capture the comings and goings of New Yorkers on a daily basis. In August 2020, he released his first video of the subway series. His most watched video has been viewed nearly 134 million times.

“I’m trying to get a whole bunch of people – all backgrounds [and] every age group, ”says Rodriguez. “It’s kind of random.”

What is not accidental are the reactions Rodriguez gets when he gives the drawing to people. Every reaction – from shock to sheer happiness – ensures a satisfactory end to every video. He even made a woman cry.

“People write to me like … ‘I watch your videos and it helps me overcome my anxiety and depression and it just makes me smile,'” says Rodriguez. “I never thought that would lead to that.”

To see all of Rodriguez’s videos visit his TikTok page and follow him while you are there.


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