High School Senior Makes Charcoal Portraits of Entire Graduating Class

By Sherley Boursiquot, Epoch Times
June 1, 2016 1:34 pm Last Updated: June 10, 2017 7:30 pm

An 18-year-old senior from Boston Latin High School spent the last four months creating portraits of 411 graduating seniors from his school.

“It took me about four months. I started in late January and picked up speed in early February, finishing in late May,” Phillip Sossou told Epoch Times.

His reason was simple: to bring everyone together.

“The drawings brought about a sense of community, which I feel is what our school really needs at this point.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.05.15 PM
(photo courtesy of Phillip Sossou)

He managed up to three portraits a day when he first started. His speed has improved remarkably since.

“I now have the ability to draw 10-12 portraits a day after all the practice I’ve gotten,” he said.

When asked if he has a photographic memory, he responded jokingly: “My memory is terrible.”  Therefore, he took pictures of the seniors and used it as a reference for the portraits. 

Courtesy of Phillip Sossou

“I got most of my reference pictures from Facebook. So, in total, the search process itself took a few hours,” Sossou said. 

When Sossou finally presented everyone with their portraits, they were all touched.

“They couldn’t believe that someone spent so much time to do something like that. I never really considered how 411 portraits would look from another person’s perspective,” he said.

He also said he was very surprised by everyone’s reactions since it was something he thought would just be a “cool exhibit to display on the last day of school.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.04.28 PM
(photo courtesy of Phillip Sossou)

“Kids were crying. Students were crying. Parents were crying. Teachers were crying. I wasn’t crying. I didn’t understand the impact that I had on everyone.”

The portraits went up on display in the hallways at the school and will remain on the walls until graduation. Then the students will get to take their portraits home.

However, the soon-to-be high school graduate is no stranger to art. He told Epoch Times his very first drawing was of a “super-powered dog with some big ol’ muscles.”

He said he was probably six or seven years old. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.04.49 PM
(photo courtesy of Phillip Sossou)

Courtesy of Phillip Sossou
Courtesy of Phillip Sossou

“I’ve drawn for as long as I remember. I drew comics all the time as a child. But I didn’t learn about my talent in portraits until my advanced art class teacher told me that I drew exceptionally fast,” he said.

Despite Sossou’s talent in drawing, he said drawing is more like a hobby, and maybe he’ll get a side job every now-and-then.  

The young artist, who will be graduating in a few weeks, plans to attend Bunker Hill Community College to study computer sciences and will continue his studies at Umass Amherst.