• 09.27.13

See The Stunning Portraits This Artist Created … On Her Thighs

Visual arts student Jody Steel talks about expressing herself, on herself.

Tired of painting on boring old canvas? Don’t have any canvas? You might be inspired by visual arts student Jody Steel and try using something that’s always to hand–your thighs. Steel didn’t set out to incorporate herself into the hyper realistic portraits that have propelled her to Internet fame this week. She simply found her thighs an efficient surface on which to take notes during class. The desk tops were too small, she explains. “Not to mention that my legs are as pale as paper.”


After binge watching all five seasons of Breaking Bad last year, Steel was inspired to draw Walter White–that was the first image to go viral after it appeared on Reddit. She then moved onto Daenerys Targaryen. She choose Joseph Gordon Levitt and Aaron Johnson because of her “shameless celebrity crushes” on both men. Each portrait takes up to an hour to produce but only about 10 minutes to wash off. Generally, Steel erases them before bed, “so they don’t get on my sheets and clothes,” she says.

The drawings have earned Steel global attention and at least one job offer–from a professor at her school. They also draw attention IRL. She says a lot of people confuse the images with tattoos. See the works in the slide show above.

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.