Now Shamrock is just one of the many well-known MMA fighters that Shoman has drawn. What started as a hobby is now a major time commitment, as the request for portraits are rolling in. It’s a far cry from where Shoman started, drawing his favorite fighters from photos he found on the internet.
Among the first of his subjects was Chuck Liddell. Shoman sketched “The Iceman” on his own time and then posted it to an internet message board, where the positive reaction from other fans provided enough encouragement to keep him going.
Reactions from fighters, Shoman says, have been interesting, to say the least.
“Jorge Gurgel was probably the funniest. He has that accent, you know, and when I sent him his drawing he freaked out. He couldn’t believe it. I told him it was probably the best one I’d done and he said, ‘No, you’re just saying that! I’m so excited for this!’ It was like he was watching a soccer game or something.
“Bas [Rutten] was very animated when I showed him his. It was right after he’d announced that he’d be a full-time commentator for the IFL. I met he and Kevin Randleman before an event, and he kept saying, ‘This is awesome. I don’t know how you do this. It’s awesome.’ I love that. It’s very satisfying.”
It’s not all heaping praise and adulation, Shoman admits. Other interactions with fighters he’s drawn have been, well, awkward.
“When I gave Chuck Liddell his original, that dude was out to lunch. He looked right through me.”
But while Shoman has become the go-to artist in the MMA world, he still isn’t getting rich off his endeavor. Not only do the portraits take a long time to complete, but when they’re finally sold his take equals only a few dollars per hour spent perfecting them.
“There’s absolutely no money in it now, but there was even less when I started. I basically love MMA, love drawing, and I love people’s reaction,” he says. “I always say it takes forty to fifty hours, but now I want to say it’s more like sixty to eighty. By the time I’m done, I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I’m sick of it. I think, ‘God, I’m so glad I’m finished. I couldn’t look at this guy’s hair or his nipple any longer.’”
While it may not make him famous or rich, Shoman has no plans of shutting down his portraiture operation any time soon. The only problem now is keeping up with the workload, which grows along with his reputation in the MMA world. Next on his docket is IFL fighter Jay Hieron, among others.
His special talent is not just drawing a picture that resembles a fighter, but truly capturing his essence. The process he has to go through to accomplish this is intense, but the results speak for themselves.
“I always say to the fighter, ‘Give me the photos that best represent you, not the one where you necessarily look the best or you look like Brad Pitt.’ I also take pictures of the fighters myself sometimes to have as a reference. I took a picture of Clay Guida with his shirt off in the middle of a WEC event. It was kind of weird, but it worked and it represented what I though Clay was all about.
“Sometimes a drawing can have the lines in all the right places, but it doesn’t really look like that person. It doesn’t capture them. That’s what I want to do. That’s why I do this.”
To see more of Evan Shoman’s artwork, please visit shomanart.com