Review: Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life | SXSW 2023

Score: B+

Director: Dan Covert

Running Time: 80 Minutes

Rated: NR

You've probably seen Geoff McFetridge's work, even if you don't know his name. Unlike some other modern artists, he's not a personality or a celebrity, but he's ever-present all the same. Numerous companies have hired him (or ripped off his style) a lot in recent years, but few people know the man. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page! Drawing a Life gives us a view of the artist in full, from his Canadian suburban childhood, to his connection to skateboarding culture, to his current life as one of the most respected and sought-after artists of the 21st Century.

This is a pretty conventional documentary for a pretty unconventional artist. Growing up in suburban Calgary, McFetridge's childhood was defined by conformity. This, of course, explains the draw to skateboarding. His association with that scene brought him into the DIY/zine culture, partnering with the Beastie Boys and future Oscar-winning filmmakers like Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola. But rather than getting sucked into the Hollywood machine, or burning out from substance abuse with other artists, he became a family man, and devoted himself to that and his other love: drawing.

There are some lovely animated interludes and montages set to McFetridge's poetry. But otherwise this is your standard talking head doc, but with one secret weapon: a treasure trove of home movies and sketchbooks. Because of his tendency to work non-stop, there are thousands of gorgeous rough drafts and artistic exercises to fill your eyeballs here. It's also an asset that McFetridge himself is so unassuming. He's got no ego, and seems aware of his own shortcomings as a father and a husband. It's refreshing for a documentary not to push the audience to worship the subject, or force them to wrangle with his/her misdeeds.

Unlike its subject, Geoff McFetridge: Drawing a Life is not a true original. But it is a special look at a special artist.


About Katie Anaya

Katie Anaya