Brechwald didn't find his professional groove as an artist until mid-life, now his photorealistic drawings are displayed across the county and beyond

The years following the outbreak of COVID-19 were a turning point in a lot of people's lives, and many found hope and meaning in the life changes they were inspired to make during that time. Marc Brechwald, a former fundraiser by profession, is one such person. His passion for drawing was reignited, and Brechwald heard his call as an artist. His detailed portraits of musicians, celebrities, and striking individuals are so lifelike, they can easily be mistaken for black and white photographs.

"The Pencil Guy"

Brechwald grew up in Iowa, often spending his free time sketching superheroes. After college he took a 20-year break from drawing and focused on a career in sales, and later, fundraising. During that time, he lived in different cities across the U.S., including Kansas City, Atlanta, and eventually Tampa.

As a former fundraiser for the University of Tampa, Brechwald often admired the student artwork displayed on campus. When the COVID pandemic hit and Brechwald found himself at home with more time on his hands, he began to draw again. From there his artistic reawakening took on a life of its own.

Now, several years later, Brechwald is a full-time professional artist with a studio in Ybor City and a roster of upcoming exhibits. Much of his work is created using graphite and colored pencils, earning him the nickname "The Pencil Guy."

According to Brechwald, "every face has a story to tell." These stories come to life in his hyper-realistic portraits of attractive and compelling individuals. Many of his drawings highlight the beauty of human diversity, with subjects representing a wide range of ages, races, ethnicities, and religions. Within each drawing, Brechwald captures the contrasting textures of skin, hair, and fabric with astonishing precision. Each lifelike piece can take anywhere from 15 to 125 hours, depending upon the detail depicted.

Detailed portrait created by Marc Brechwald
Brechwald's detailed portraits of musicians, celebrities, and striking individuals are so lifelike, they can easily be mistaken for black-and-white photographs. Shown here is a detail of "Like Bees to Honey" (graphite pencils on paper, 2023).

Brechwald has exhibited work across Hillsborough County and in several galleries in St. Petersburg. In 2024, he was awarded a Hillsborough County Arts Council grant. With his career as a figurative artist rapidly expanding, he values the rich arts scene that he is now enmeshed in and how it contributes to the quality of life for artists and non-artists, alike.

"I think everyone recognizes that having a healthy and vital arts environment and culture is important for any city; whether that comes to attracting businesses to relocate to the Tampa Bay area, attracting the top talent to come to our hospitals, to our universities, or whatever the case may be," Brechwald said. "The arts are a huge economic driver and also a huge cultural, critical component to any city that people would want to live in, large or small."

Brechwald's most recent work can be seen in the upcoming Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

The Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is an annual outdoor, juried fine arts show, displaying the work of over 250 artists. The show, now in its 54th year, showcases a variety of art mediums and price points. Types of work include ceramic, digital, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor, and wood. The nonprofit festival is free and features live music, food vendors, and activities for children and families. This year's show will be held March 2-3 at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 1001 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607.

Hillsborough County Arts Council Grant Programs

Marc Brechwald is a recipient of the Professional Development for Artists (PDA) Grant. This grant program provides support for specific projects that advance the careers of artists in Hillsborough County. The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts receives funding from the Special Event Partnership Grant program. This grant program is designed to strengthen and promote cultural assets through growing and supporting arts and cultural events. For more information, visit the Hillsborough County Arts Council or emailĀ

Image Caption: Marc Brechwald, a photorealistic artist, poses in his studio with a collection of his work.
Posted: 2/28/2024, 2:23:06 PM