Guitarist and Busker Mariusz Goli

Like a lot of people, my primary method for visual music consumption is YouTube. In the absence of an actual television channel dedicated to music videos (what a novel concept), it’s definitely the go-to method for enjoying official music videos. But it’s also a great venue for watching live music recordings and for independent artists in unique genres. One niche that I’ve always enjoyed the solo guitarist shared content, including virtuoso demonstrations and street performance (also called “busking”). I’ve got a few favorites that I watch every so often; Mariusz Goli, Tina S, Andre Antunes, and a few others. I even made a public playlist on YouTube of some of the best, which I’ve embedded below. Not a tremendously long playlist, but it’s got almost 30 songs or so by various talented musicians whose creations I’ve enjoyed.

Mariusz Goli was actually one of the earliest performers I came across on YouTube years ago. He’s an extremely talented musician, composer, and busker/street guitarist from Poland. The first video I came across from him was his song “Improvisation“, performed in a public space near some shops back in 2014. It really became one of my favorite instrumental songs of all time, and I’ve surely listened to it hundreds (or thousands?) of times now. As much as I love music, sadly I have no musical talent whatsoever. That might be one of the reasons why I enjoy watching musicians play along with the listening component. It’s awe-inspiring to watch someone like Mariusz Goli perform, just flying through notes and creating these wonderful sounds.

Playlist featuring music by Mariusz Goli, Tina S, Andre Antunes, Lara de Wit, Mixed Up Everything, Gabriella Quevedo, Laura Lace, Gordo Drummer, Animara, and a few others.

Although I don’t have the musical gifts of folks like these, I am glad to be able to experience their creations from a fan’s standpoint. I guess that’s the beauty of music (and all artforms) – anyone can experience it. And it can become as meaningful and memorable to the listener as it can the performer. At some point though, the thought occurred to me that I can also express my appreciation through a different form of art. I realized it might be fun to try create my own tribute through a portrait! I decided the best place to start with this would be with the busker Goli himself.

One of the first thoughts I had when pondering this drawing was, how cool would it be if I could actually use his music along with the video? That felt like sort of a pipe dream though. I’m very cautious about using creative works like music under the appropriate license, which typically translates to me only using Public Domain, YouTube music library license, or Creative Commons BY (with attribution) songs. Even when I wrote Pencils and Process, I felt it was important to get written permission or licensing for everything, even if it was someone I know personally! Anyhow, despite being a longshot, I decided to reach out to Mariusz Goli to see if he would be willing to let me use his music in a drawing video. To my surprise, he responded and said yes!

Here is the final version of the drawing, which I also forwarded to the portrait subject:

Portrait of Mariusz Goli based on his performance of ‘Road Into The Unknown’ in Vienna, Austria in 2015. (video link here)

As for the drawing itself, I like how it turned out. There are always little things that I feel like could have gone better though. In this case, I did not capture the subject’s mouth and jaw as accurately as I could have. But I was basing this on a performance from one of his videos, so it was a bit tricky to get the right view. I also thing the guitar could have gone better. Interestingly enough, I think this might be the first time I’ve ever drawn a guitar! The strings were a challenge that I hadn’t really anticipated.

Mostly though, I think the portrait went as planned. The shadows and contrast seem within good range, and the color choices were solid (except for perhaps the guitar’s body). The hair also seemed to turn out just fine. I’ve been attempting in the last couple of drawings to use an Exact-o-knife to bring out little strands of hair a bit. This is a technique I first saw in Kirsty Partridge’s YouTube videos, which she uses to really impressive effect. I haven’t fully gotten the hang of it, but I might be getting better.

Now, to the video. I’m excited about this one because I finally got to use what I regard as the perfect music for the drawing! Here, with his permission, I’ve included music from Mariusz Goli’s album ‘Road Into The Unknown.’ If you like his music, you can buy the album on his Bandcamp site or check out more videos on his YouTube or Facebook pages.

Earlier in this writeup mentioned being surprised by getting a response from Mariusz Goli. I tend to regard people I deem as “famous” to be too busy to respond to requests like mine. When I wrote Pencils and Process, I sent out a fairly large amount of requests to various copyright holders to ask for permission to use personal likenesses or images related to intellectual property. The vast majority never responded, with many also just denied the request. I had to license a couple through sites like Shutterstock, but a surprising handful just outright granted permission! You really just never know until you ask.

It really makes me wonder if more of these musicians would be willing to grant permission to use their music in a drawing video. After all, I do have a couple dozen more songs in my “Music Favorites” playlist. It’s sort of a catch-22 though, because I liked having a finished drawing image I could send to this particular musician when I asked. But it’s an investment of time to actually create the portrait, so to draw them and then not receive permission would be sort of a bummer. But I guess it’s all about the mindset! I went into this particular project with no expectations and it seemed to work out just fine.

So, we’ll see how that goes and what ends up next on tap. I’ve thought about drawing our somewhat new pet cat, but the idea of attempting more musicians is pretty appealing too.


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