elvis’ golden caricatures volume 10 (elvis by alberto russo)

ALBERTO “STING” RUSSO is a graphic de­signer and il­lus­trator. He is one of the newer gen­er­a­tions of artists who have el­e­vated the art of car­i­ca­ture into a whole new realm. Russo com­bines a tra­di­tional fine art sen­si­bility with the use of com­puter tech­nology. He pro­duces por­traits that are timely, funny, often in­sightful, and just as often im­me­di­ately ar­resting as a work of art.

Like many artists, Russo can’t re­member not drawing, but he started to do graf­fiti in 1990. His tag was “Sting,” which he kept as a nickname.

In graphic de­sign school, Al­berto studied figure-drawing. A pro­fessor no­ticed that he had a ten­dency to car­i­ca­ture the body of the models, and told him about Valott, a former stu­dent who had done the same thing. Russo con­tacted Valott and he in­tro­duced Al­berto to the work of Se­bas­tian Krüger.


“Some­times I am shy to tell people I am an artist. I see my­self more as a man who ex­per­i­ments with things.”


In 1994-1995, Russo at­tended CEPV École d’arts ap­pliqués and in 1995-1996, ERAG École d’arts graphiques (now ERACOM).

In 2000, he cre­ated Area De­sign, his own de­sign agency.

In 2010, Russo at­tended Krüger’s painting work­shop, which helped him to start painting faces again after six­teen years without doing caricatures. 


SebastianKruger caricature MickJagger 600

Se­bas­tian Krüger’s car­i­ca­ture of Mick Jagger. Kruger was one of Rus­so’s teachers and in­flu­ences on his style and career.

On caricaturing people

Al­berto de­scribes his style as being some­where be­tween the two worlds of graphic de­sign and graf­fiti. He mixes tra­di­tional art mediums with dig­ital mediums: “I mix my work with both and re­ally love what we can do with new tech­niques. Dig­ital or not. Re­member: your com­puter loves you!”

Russo works with as many as twenty pho­tographs on his desktop. Russo al­ways starts by sketching in pencil or pen: “I enjoy the process of the drawing be­cause it is a game to find a solution.”

“I se­lect [my sub­jects] for dif­ferent rea­sons. But the most im­por­tant one is that I want to give my own artistic view on them. I don’t do sub­jec­tive por­traits or car­i­ca­tures to make people laugh. I want to ex­press how I see them—to share these feel­ings in my paint­ings. I need to study their faces, their at­ti­tude, their soul.

I have found that with car­i­ca­ture, we do the same things with the face that one does with let­ters in graf­fiti. You can push and play with the face like one pushes the let­ters in graf­fiti. Even though you stretch the image, it still makes read­able sense.

When I draw, I go to an­other world with no time and people. Some­times I am shy to tell people I am an artist. I see my­self more as a man who ex­per­i­ments with things.”


MortDrucker MadAboutTheMovies 700

Mort Druck­er’s art for the front cover for the 1998 book Mad About the Movies. Faces to look for in­clude Warren Beatty, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Joan Craw­ford, Bette Davis, James Dean, Faye Dun­away, Clint East­wood, Errol Flynn, Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Whoopi Gold­berg, Dustin Hoffman, Mal­colm Mc­Dowell, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pa­cino, Robert Red­ford, Christo­pher Reeve, Ed­ward G. Robinson, and Barbra Streisand. Drucker was one of the artists who in­flu­enced Rus­so’s style.

Favorites and goals

Among the many artists he con­siders faves, he lists comic book artist Mort Drucker (of Mad mag­a­zine), fan­tasy painter Frank Frazetta, movie poster artist Drew Struzan, por­traitist Lu­cian Freud, car­i­ca­turist Jean Mu­latier, and Se­bas­tian Krüger.

Mainly my goal is al­ways to do the right thing tech­ni­cally but with freedom. To do only the tech­nical as­pect of car­i­ca­ture is simply math­e­matics. But the freedom you have with the math­e­matics, the ren­dering and how the piece feels, is where the real cre­ativity lies.

“Ren­dering is the music in the cre­ative process. It is im­por­tant to dis­cover the essence of the sub­ject you are drawing and then push this out in the right rep­re­sen­ta­tion. It is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain the soul of the sub­ject and not just get a likeness.”


JeanMulatier caricature GérardDepardieu 600

Jean Mu­latier’s fa­mous car­i­ca­tures of French actor Gérard De­par­dieu. Mu­latier was one of the artists who in­flu­enced Rus­so’s style.

Clients and awards

Rus­so’s clients in­clude Nike, Puma, and Uni­versal Music. Al­berto has done a lot of cover art for compact-discs by Swiss artists: “I re­ally love to create art­work where [I] can feel the music and the vi­bra­tions. It’s a great chal­lenge to put the en­ergy and the move­ment in a static illustration.”

He has been awarded sev­eral Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards for his de­sign on best-selling albums.

Eu­rocon Eu­ro­ca­ture: Best Studio Piece, 2nd Place
Eu­rocon Eu­ro­ca­ture: Sam­sung Galaxy Chal­lenge, 2nd Place

An­nual De­sign Awards, UK: Best Flyer
Swiss Nightlife Award, Mad At­ti­tude: Best event serie

Swiss Nightlife Award, Mad At­ti­tude: Best event serie

The FWA: Site of the Day
Moluv: Site of the Day
Ul­tra­shock: Site of the Day

Russo has been one of the most rec­og­nized win­ners of the Car­i­cat­u­rama Show­down 3000 drawing and painting challenges.


FrankFrazetta Conan drawing 1000

A drawing by Frank Frazetta of Conan the Bar­barian (or a bar­barian who looks ex­actly like Conan). Frazetta was one of the artists who in­flu­enced Rus­so’s style.

A Gallery of Elvises

Al­berto Russo is also an Elvis fan who has done sev­eral amazing por­traits of Presley. Below find both his car­i­ca­tures and straight draw­ings. I have placed them in chrono­log­ical order of Elvis’s age, not in the order in which Al­berto cre­ated them.









Russo Elvis 56 sketch 1 600 crop2

Russo Elvis 56 sketch 2 600








Russo Elvis 68 double image sketch 1000 crop2

Russo Elvis 68 double image 1000





Books by Alberto Russo

Al­berto has self-published two books, both col­lec­tions of his work: Fa­mous Faces – The Art of Al­berto “Sting” Russo (2012) and The Art of Al­berto “Sting” Russo (2103).




Russo Elvis 56 tiny sketch 600 crop

Quotes from Alberto Russo

“I am con­tin­u­ally trying to find new tech­niques to paint and draw while mixing dig­ital and tra­di­tional tech­niques. It is a great chal­lenge every day.”

“There is usu­ally an ex­pres­sion that a person will have 70% of the time, and the other ex­pres­sions 30% of the time. The car­i­ca­ture needs to cap­ture the 70%.” 

“It is dif­fi­cult to ex­plain the soul of the sub­ject and not just get a likeness.”


Russo Elvis email 1 750

FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page is Al­berto Rus­so’s car­i­ca­ture of Elvis based on the photos taken of the young singer on his first visit to RCA Vic­tor’s of­fices in New York in No­vember 1955. This is prob­ably my fa­vorite of Sting’s pieces. Fi­nally, here are links to web­sites where more Sting can be seen:

Al­berto “Sting” Russo


Elvis 1957 goldsuit standup 1000

POSTSCRIPTUALLY, I have planned four vol­umes of car­i­ca­tures of Elvis in the ’50s, and two each for the ’60s and the ’70s. There are at least two artists who have done enough high-quality car­i­ca­tures of Presley to merit a volume of their own, Al Hirschfeld and Al­berto “Sting” Russo. Here are links to the volumes:

The First Pub­lished Car­i­ca­ture of Elvis Presley
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 1 (Rockin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 2 (Rollin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 3 (Rat­tlin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 4 (Shaggin’ the 50s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 5 (Stuck on the 60s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 6 (Wild in the 60s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 7 (Elvis by Hirschfeld)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 8 (Love Let­ters from the 70s)
Elvis’ Golden Car­i­ca­tures Volume 9 (Aloha from the 70)


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He is a bril­liant talent.

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