I found myself alone in a new empty studio in Madrid, with only two suitcases, a laptop, and a sketchbook. Then I got an idea: I could travel without crossing the door!

As an artist, I have been very nomadic. I get inspired by traveling, meeting people observing them and listening to their stories.

When the quarantine was declared, I realized that something exceptional was happening: the whole world had come to a halt, no matter how unprepared anybody was, it had never happened before in our society.

I found myself alone in a new empty studio in Madrid, with only two suitcases, a laptop, and a sketchbook. Then I got an idea: I could travel without crossing the door!
I asked for volunteers in my social media, perhaps as an artist I could do something special for them, give them a little gratification during the hardship of the lockdown, and in return they could do the same for me: I would portray for free anyone who would tell me their story, which then I would edit and share with the rest of my followers.

If it hadn’t been for the long lockdown we would have carried on with our business and I would have never met so many wonderful people and made beautiful friendships. Confined in my studio, I traveled to around 60 countries and got to enter such different homes, but the most precious gift is that people opened up to me completely, and let me know so much of their life, as if we were already familiar with each other. I wanted to know who they were, their past, how they lived, what process of their life the quarantine had interrupted and how they were spending their time in social isolation.

Some sitters, after spending 2, 3 or even more hours with me, to say thank you, would sing songs, play a musical instrument, sketch me, read a poetry or show me their house, art studios, introduce me to their family, pets, or how they make things with their own hands, like jewelries masks or clothes. I realised how much these “ordinary” people were all extraordinary, and my portraits needed to be a testament of that. Both they and I now cherish the memory of a wonderful experience in times of social isolation.


These are the portraits that I made mostly between March 20 and May 24 2020, while in complete lockdown. I created a calendar and invited any of my Instagram followers to sign up for free portraits from life, through videoconference. They were not just drawings of faces, and could not have been done through a static photo, they needed to originate from the interaction. I wanted to see how the person moved while talking, understand their personality and who they were. Each interview and portrait would last around 2 to 3 hours, with some exceptionally longer ones. I would start jotting down a few notes to learn about the person, then I would ask the sitters to show me around their place, to try out ideas for the pose, taking into account those things that came to light as being important in the story. The last hour would be dedicated to portraying the person, who had to keep still in the chosen pose. Later on, I would edit the story and publish at least one “Quarantine Portrait” per day in my social media.

See the selection


After the big impact of the global quarantine, there never was a return to the old “normality”, and the life of people was more or less drastically changed by the pandemic.  After the Quarantine Portraits I returned to painting, but I felt that I could still learn so much from listening to people and their experience as human beings, but this time I chose based on the stories that were more compelling. In my sketchbook, the notes from the interviews took many more pages and then I took full days to edit each of them and publish one every Sunday. I decided that in future I would publish a book! Stories of solidarity, courage, life-changing experiences, bold decisions, resilience and love to get inspiration from, accompanied by the portrait, made from videoconference or from life, when travels returned to be allowed. Some sitters had been in the frontline against the virus, others had found a new reason to live, had taken that step they never dared before, had lost somebody dear, had helped neighbours or people in need, had found a special person in these difficult times, etc.


See the selection


Michele Del Campo grew up in San Nicandro, South Italy. After a Degree in 2001 in Illustration from Dundee (UK) he studied Fine Arts in Milan (Italy) and Madrid (Spain), where he graduated in 2007. He has traveled and lived in many different countries, yet in his work the focus is on people, their stories, emotions and interactions, reflecting a broader human experience that transcends geographical limits. He paints the people he knows, family, friends and neighbours. He has had solo shows in Madrid, London, San Francisco, Lima, Lugano, Barcelona, Milan and Valencia, and group shows in Europe, Asia, USA and Latin America. He has won many international awards, among which the BMW Painting Prize in 2006.

He is currently living and working in Madrid.

Visit his website