Meet the Boston Common $1 portrait artist


Getting to know Nick Shea | Photo by BOStoday team

If you have spent any time in the Boston Common, you might have noticed a line of people waiting for the chance to talk with a guy sitting by a pizza box advertising $1 drawings.

That guy would be East Boston-native Nick Shea + we waited for our turn to get to know the local artist.

Recent articles + TikTok videos might have caught your attention for the $1 portrait artist, but Nick has been drawing people in the park since 2017. Long before that he has been making art for as long as he can remember.

Nick currently lives in Dorchester and has plans to travel to new cities to share his art and meet new people along the way.

You’ll find Nick in the Common, usually on the same green bench with a stack of note cards, sharpies, and his signature Sal’s pizza box. Chances are you won’t be the only one, he has met people who traveled from other states to get a portrait.

For Nick, it’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.

“The types of messages I get now are just positive responses and stuff I never really imagined,” Nick said. “I’ve always had faith in my artwork and I’ve always done my best, but the way it touches people sometimes it gets emotional out here.”

When we talked to Nick he shared that he really enjoys in-person interactions and he’s trying to create a safe place for conversations.

“I try to show people you don’t need much if you want to start doing something,” Nick said. “I feel like people will think they need special makers and fancy things, which I have all that stuff at my house and definitely use that stuff. I love to make all kinds of artwork. I try to show people just go get started and that if you have an idea just go see what happens — it might be really fun.”

He hopes to have his art in a gallery one day. You can follow along + connect with the local artist on Instagram. Pro tip: We heard there is a book in the works for later this year.

Take it from us, there might be a line, but you’ll walk away with more than a unique portrait.

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