This Artist’s iPhone Oil Paintings Utilize Face Grease

    September 17, 2012
    Josh Wolford
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For smartphones users, keeping the touchscreen clean and free of fingerprints, debris, grease, and smears of inexplicable origin is one of the hardest battles. As a glasses-wearer with an iPhone, I always feel like I’m looking at everything on my screen through a hazy dual-film. It’s kind of gross, when you really think about it.

Gross or not, all of that grime that accumulates on your touchscreen is the basis for some of the most unusual art I’ve seen in quite some time.


New York-based artist JK Keller is currently the world’s premier iPhone oil painter. No, he doesn’t paint pictures of iPhones with oil-based paint. He doesn’t dip the iPhone in paint and use it as a brush. In his case, the “oil” he uses as a medium is human in its origin.

The self-described “self-obsesser” uses his oily face as his palette, and he mixes his pigment by rubbing an iphone across it. As you would imagine this produces a nice sheen of grease, produced from his very own pores, on the screen. The next step in creating one of his iPhone oil paintings is to use his fingers to spread the face grease into patterns that will ultimately look cool when light hits them.

“It’s a play on expectations of what that phrase [oil paintings] means in the traditional sense…You’re a little grossed out, but also think it looks pretty cool to watch the anisotropic light reflections shift as you move the phone around,” he told Mashable.

“Well, if they introduce special anti-grease glass I’m screwed,” said Keller in a tweet. Lucky for him, that wasn’t one of the new features announced during last week’s big iPhone 5 event.

Check out some of his “paintings” below:



  • zigzag

    This is retarded.

  • Spud Spudster

    I’m used to so-called “fine artists” doing ridiculous things in the name of art, but this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen an artist do. The phone isn’t even turned on. So what’s the point in using a cell phone in the first place? Sorry Mr. Keller. I’m an artist myself and usually I’m all for experimentation, but this is just gimmicky idiocy at its finest.