Budding 8-year-old artist draws First Friday portraits [video]

     Max Perlman, 8, spends first Fridays drawing dollar portraits of art lovers outside the Arden Theater in Old City, Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Max Perlman, 8, spends first Fridays drawing dollar portraits of art lovers outside the Arden Theater in Old City, Philadelphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    First Fridays in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood feature established artists and performers from nearby and around the world.

    But one little boy, with an easel and a box of markers, manages to attract a lot of attention outside of the Arden Theater. Max Perlman, 8, spends First Friday drawing portraits of art lovers.

    Max Perlman’s, father and the Arden’s Technical Director, Glenn Perlman, said the arts come natural to his son, who’s been drawing since he could hold a crayon, and drawing portraits now since age 6.

    A sign advertising the price of Max’s portraits, $1, hangs next to a drawing of Max’s father on a motorcycle jumping over a shark. 

    Max draws one girl as a giraffe and another walking her dog. Perlman says that part of the money Max makes gets saved and the other part Max is allowed to spend on toys for himself. Max uses the leftover money to purchase toys and needed items for the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

    Perlman says the artist community is very supportive and that Max enjoys drawing and can take breaks and can stop whenever he wants.  When he’s not drawing, he participates in gymnastics, hip-hop dancing, and karate.

    The crowd surrounding the young artist is smiling and laughing, many just to spend a moment watching Max draw others’ pictures. Despite not being too chatty with his subject, Max smiles and poses for pictures. He says he wants to remain an artist forever.

    Marissa Amos, an international coordinator for students attending Rutgers, had her portrait drawn. She said she plans to take a picture of it and make it her Facebook profile picture.

    “I hope he’s a famous artist one day, and I’ll be able to say, ‘Max drew me when he was 8!'” said Amos.

    Max Perlman draws portraits outside of the Arden Theater every First Friday, unless he doesn’t feel like it.

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