Harry Potter Immortalized in Jelly Beans at New York Comic Con
You know you’ve made it when you’re immortalized in jelly beans. The Jelly Belly artist in residence, Kristen Cumings, started a portrait of Harry Potter at the start of New York Comic Con with the goal of finishing by the conclusion of the event. Cumings says she has been making jelly bean art for about ten years. This is the third Harry Potter-themed portrait she has done, having already finished Dumbledore and Ron Weasley. “It’s because Jelly Belly has a new line of Harry Potter products out,” says Cumings, motioning to a display of Bertie Bott’s beans and chocolate wands.
Cumings is not the first Jelly Belly artist. The company commissioned several pieces in the 1980s. Cumings herself has completed about 50 jelly bean portraits since she started partnering with the candy company. The San Fransisco Bay native says living in the area where Jelly Belly is headquartered led to her more traditional artwork getting discovered by a public relations rep for the company back in 2009.
It was just one of those things where I had given a portrait of one of my mom’s friend’s daughters to her after it didn’t sell at a gallery and her husband was with PR marketing with Jelly Belly. He knew that they were looking for somebody to start doing this bean art again and gave me a call and said, ‘Do you want to see if you can do it?’ and I did a test piece for them.
The process is like paint by number. Cumings uses acrylic paints to fill in the background and then sorts through her beans to find the right shades to match her color-mapped canvas. The beans are stuck to the surface using a spray adhesive and the finished product is sealed with a resin “that’ll keep it from fading and protect it for years, actually.”
Cumings says she’s enjoying watching all the Harry Potter fans stopping by the booth to get a glimpse of the portrait. While we were speaking, a little girl in full Gryffindor robes stopped so her mom could snap a picture of her in front of the Boy Who Lived jelly bean masterpiece. “To see people who are fans already come up and start talking to me… It’s fun. I love coming to New York Comic Con,” says Cumings. Once complete, the portrait will be composed of between 12,000 and 13,000 jelly beans.