Salmon Arm artist Justin Maas got an immediate reaction when he posted a sketch of a celebrity on Twitter last Thursday night.
The drawing shows comedian and America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel with many hands touching his head and the caption, “Sometimes the judges ‘need a hand’ too.’”
“Justin Maas is great at drawing scary pictures,” posted Mandel on Instagram Friday morning.
Mandel suffers from mysophobia, a pathological fear of contamination or germs, to the point that he does not shake hands with anyone unless he is wearing latex gloves.
As of Tuesday morning, the post had garnered 4,819 likes and 56 comments.
Maas, who has been a full-time professional illustrator, fine artist and graphic designer for nearly 20 years, teaches art courses at Okanagan College.
He has had a Twitter account for three years but has been using Facebook as the outlet for his art.
But about a month ago, Maas came across an article on social media and art and began tweeting his drawings.
“I started with (Scottish actor) Ewan McGregor,” says Maas. “He liked it and retweeted and it ended up in a Scottish newspaper.”
Maas says on nights when he is not painting, he has been doing random sketches of celebrities.
Before Mandel, Maas sketched America’s Got Talent judges Mel B and Heidi Klum because his daughters love the show. And while the celebrities did not acknowledge his tweets, the network did and Maas tweeted a sketch of the fourth judge, Howard Stern, on Friday morning.
“I am a nobody and I get 500 notifications a day, it’s almost overwhelming,” says Maas of social media. “It’s definitely an interesting outlet, I just haven’t got a handle on how it all works.”
Maas, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, UBC and earned a degree in visual communications at the Alberta College of Art and Design, works primarily in pastel, acrylic and watercolour and has been producing commissioned pastel portraits.
His work is on display at various art galleries and other locations in the Interior and has been sold to private collectors across North America, Europe and parts of South America.
Uncomfortable with the big-city pace, Maas moved to Salmon Arm eight years ago.
“It’s a good place, it’s been been good for the family and my career,” he says.