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

Es­ti­mated reading time is 5 minutes.

AL­BERTO “STING” RUSSO 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 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.

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!”


SebastianKruger caricature MickJagger 600

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

On caricaturing people

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 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 1000

This is Mort Druck­er’s art for the 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.

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






Elvis caricature 60 Russo 600


Elvis caricature 64 Russo 600


Russo Elvis 68 double image sketch 1000 crop2

Russo Elvis 68 double image 1000




Elvis caricature 73 Russo 600


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.”


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 GoldSuit

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 70s)



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