The artist, wearing his signature black bowler hat and a green Starbucks apron, works quickly.
It starts with just a few lines in black pen in the white space of a Starbucks cup. Then the shape of the eyes emerge, a curved line becomes a nose. An expression comes to life. He adds a crown of hair and a few flourishes. Accessories provide the final touch, often a cell phone or cup of coffee. He dashes a name across the top and his signature below.
In less than two minutes, he’s finished, and he hands the Venti-sized portrait across the café table to his subject.
Recently, Starbucks invited artist Ismael Gudiño to personalize cups for customers to celebrate the new café in the Las Brisas commercial center of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The special assignment reminded him of his childhood in Argentina, when he entertained his friends by drawing cartoons of teachers and classmates. Now an accomplished abstract artist who works in a variety of mediums, he was excited for the challenge of drawing on Starbucks cups.
“It was one of my best experiences without a doubt because it’s a cup that always invites you to use it as a canvas,” he said. “When people are having fun and I draw them, the illustration process becomes natural and flows easily.”
Exactly how long does it take Gudiño to create a portrait?
“To tell the truth I kind of lost count as I was drawing nonstop, but I think I did around 25 cups per hour,” he said. “This depends on the amount of people with curly hair. With those, I take my time!”