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Video: A Hand-Drawn Tribute to Muhammad Ali (Plus: We Answer a Question You May Have Been Wondering

Behind the Scenes:

Muhammad Ali

My colleagues and I joined millions of people around the world who mourned at the loss of "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali earlier this month. Grace Portraits decided to pay tribute to him as best we could: with his own custom portrait.

Our talented artist Gene in Newark, New York took 13 hours over 2 days to draw the portrait and filmed the entire process, which added a few hours to the project. The result is a truly artistic tribute to Muhammad Ali that captures his classic boxing stance.

Some of you watching may be asking, "What on earth is that silver bar thing?" We didn't know at first either! It turns out the silver bar is an ingenious contraption that Gene came up with that allows him to rest his drawing hand without smudging the pencil.

From all of us at Grace Portraits, we hope you enjoy Gene's memorial tribute portrait to an unforgettable American legend, Muhammad Ali.

About The Artist:


In high school, Gene sold portraits in pencil and oils to earn pocket money. After high school, he took a job on the assembly line at Xerox, and soon after that he was drafted and sent to Vietnam. After being trained as a mortar crewman, he was extremely fortunate to be selected as one of a four-man combat artist team. From the time he boarded the troup carrier he’d been sketching, so his portfolio was up to date. His job was to chronicle images of the war effort for the 29th Military History Detachment.

After returning home, getting married and returning to Xerox, Gene began his formal art training at Rochester Institute of Technology after work. Gene was later transferred from assembly line to the graphics department at Xerox. After several years he was promoted to manager of that department.

Gene is interested in much more than just illustration and graphic design. Creativity comes forth in many ways, and one of these is “The Amazing Bickford,” created as an exercise in resourcefulness, Gene built a 43-pound robot from disposable razors! After making local appearances at Rochester’s Strong Museum and elsewhere, it was purchased by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, feature in their Branson Missouri Museum.

To be able to do even greater variety of work, Gene left and started his own design firm with a partner. For 11 years as co-owner of a small advertising agency, Gene has had the opportunity to develop logos, brochures, ad campaigns, and art for annual reports, displays, manuals and for use on television.

His signature area is portraiture. Gene was selected by Eastman Kodak to do Award portraits presented to Hollywood celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Burt Reynolds, Steven Spielberg, Elia Kazan, and others. Gene has also done many executive portraits for corporations. Gene is now happy doing portraits for Grace Portraits.

Have any questions for Gene? Ask them in the comments below!

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