Artist Makes Unique Drawings for World Wildlife Day at Zoo

Brad Vanderbrook showed off drawings at Lake Superior Zoo

DULUTH, Minn.- Sunday was World Wildlife Day, and while Lake Superior Zoo doesn’t normally have elephants, giraffes, and gorillas, they got to have them all, through the unique drawings of one artist.

“There’s so many animals that are in trouble, it’s like I’ve got a lot to choose from.”

The pictures on display at the Zoo may look like black and white photographs, or drawn with the finest pens and pencils.

But the artist does his work with tools we see everyday.

Sharpies, on a plain white sheet.

“It’s softer, and I can use drier markers for different shades of grey,” said Brad Vanderbrook. “Y’know, the drier the marker the lighter the grey. Y’know the newer the marker, the blacker it is.”

“So all of this is done in 1 color, it’s all 1 color, just different shades of that color.”

Vanderbrook has been making art with different methods for most his life.

But conservation turned him to make portraits of animals last year.

“I think I started getting an idea of what I could do when Cecil the Lion was killed,” he said. “And then the last white rhino died, and that made me think a little bit more. And I was traveling and I saw some signs about poaching and that’s when I thought, this is really happening.”

Soon one portrait became several, animals of all sizes blown up on his white sheet.

His newest subject: a blue whale leaping out of the sea.

“I’ve never done a portrait like this before,” Vanderbrook said.

While these portraits are done with simpler tools, they are no easy task.

Some took up to three weeks to complete.

Now his sharpie sensations are shown for the first time at the zoo, a dollar from every ticket donated to the World Wildlife Fund.

After Sunday, his portraits will be on display for a second time at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Retail Center on March 15th.

According to Vanderbrook, the real stars are the animals in the portraits.

“Showcasing them and trying to show that these animals do exists and they are in trouble.”

“And maybe art can help.”

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