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Meet Jason Polan, an Artist Drawing Portlandia One Sketch at a Time


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Humorless art is OVER. To celebrate the return of Portlandia, artist Jason Polan will be drawing highlights from each episode of the show’s fourth season, which will be featured on Jason is known for his black-and-white illustrations, which have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times and many other publications. He’s also made a name for himself by leading the Taco Bell Drawing Club – a group of artists who gather in Taco Bells around the country. IFC spoke with Jason about the Drawing Club, his upcoming illustrations and his mission to draw every person in New York.

1. What inspired you to start the Taco Bell Drawing Club?

I had been spending a lot of time drawing at Taco Bell, and I thought it would be fun to draw with other people there too.

2. What is it about Taco Bell that brings out your creativity?

The food maybe? Or the people that are there while I am drawing? Or the music that is playing? I bet it is a combination of those things.
An illustration of "The Celery Incident" - a sketch from Portlandia 403.

3. Your mission is to draw everyone in NY. Sometimes you pick people at random, other times they specifically ask for one. Have you been surprised by a request?

People will usually mention a spot that is pretty normal, like a street corner in Manhattan near where they live, or a park where they sit while eating lunch. Somebody told me to draw a person at a place near the airport once, but I was kind of scared and didn’t know how they were connected to the person so I didn’t draw them. Most of the spots have been fairly normal, though, and I am usually pretty excited to go and try and find the person to draw them.

4. Did drawing every piece of art at the MoMA teach you anything about modern art – or art in general?

I hope so. I did the project twice. I think it taught me a lot about myself. How I look at things or how I deal with being in a crowded place or how long I can work on something with an ending I can see, but is pretty far away at the beginning. I enjoyed spending so much time looking at the collection. I also noticed a bit about how people look at art. How close they are to a piece or how long they look at it. There are different pieces in the museum that people tend to interact with in different ways. It is fun to watch the people (so many people visit the museum each day) and to look at the art. I love that museum.

5. How long have you been a fan of Portlandia?

Since the beginning!

An illustration of "The Celery Incident" - a sketch from Portlandia 403.

6. How do you plan on capturing the spirit of the show in your drawings?

I am not quite sure. I am working on the drawings right now and am having a lot of fun. There are particular things that I like drawing a lot of (hairstyles and the dogs in the Portland Pet Haven scenes) but I also like drawing random things that surprise me (venus flytraps eating bacon) and just random things in the background I like and hope other people notice too.

7. After you draw everyone in NY, and recap Season 4 of Portlandia, what will your next artistic mission be?

I will probably take a nap or go on a vacation to Miami.

An illustration of "The Celery Incident" - a sketch from Portlandia 403.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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