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Arts and Entertainment

Artist Masterfully Sketches Late-Night Taco Runs & K-Town Benders

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John Lee is an L.A. artist who sketches stunning portraits and scenes from Los Angeles nightlife. John Lee, also known as "Keebs," is an artist and designer. While he has a strong background in commercial client work, he told LAist that he's lately started to do more personal drawing and artwork. His latest pieces capture snapshots of Los Angeles at night.

Lee was born in Glendale, and his family moved around Koreatown for a bit before settling in Torrance. Lee said that he worked in Korea for a time after he graduated college, then moved back to Los Angeles in 2007. He currently resides in Koreatown, where he was recently inspired to start sketching scenes from the nightlife in his neighborhood.

"The people, the culture, the restaurants, and bars all have characteristics that stand out and I use them as a source of inspiration to create artwork that, I hope, is memorable and evocative," he told LAist.

Some of his favorite spots include Myung In, Hanbat, Brothers Sandwiches, Biriyani, Mariela's, and BCD. And, as a beer drinker, he likes to stop by Beer Belly or Southland Beer.

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In one sketch, people wait for late-night tacos. In another, a man gets tipsy at a K-Town watering hole.

"There are a lot of little details that make up the beauty of this city and I try to incorporate all of that into my artwork," he said.

Before Lee was drawing scenes from L.A. nightlife, he was creating portraits of various personalities. He started with rappers, including Compton's own Kendrick Lamar, creating a series called Hip Hop Heads.

To create his work, Lee said he sketches with pen or pencil and then finalizes his pieces digitally with a drawing tablet.

"I either use a previous sketch I had and import it into Photoshop/Illustrator or sketch directly into the program via tablet. Once the sketch is established, I start the inking and finally the coloring using a few different brushes," he said.

Lee plans to continue his nightlife series, and intends to later get into painting or murals in the future.

If you're wondering where Lee got the moniker Keebs, the name actually comes from high school. Lee has attached earlobes, and said some of his friends started calling him Keebs as a shortened version of Keelber, as in, the elf mascot for the cookies.

Lee's work can be purchased on Society 6, or you can follow him on Instagram here. His portfolio, which consists of art made for commercial clients, can be found here.