Big Issue Vendor

A Big Issue vendor’s amazing pencil portrait is heading Down Under for £1,500

Artist Adrian Thompson-Boyce’s life-size sketch of Bath seller Ian Duff and his dog Boycie has been sold and is heading to New Zealand

An amazing life-size pencil portrait of Big Issue vendor Ian Duff and his pet pooch Boycie is heading to New Zealand after selling for £1,500.

Artist Adrian Thompson-Boyce spent a gruelling 100 hours producing the six-foot-five tall, three-foot wide sketch before putting it on show at Bath’s Art Salon gallery last month.

After the artwork’s spell in the gallery ended, it looked like hopes of a sale were dashed until a chance encounter at Adrian’s home studio.

Adrian Thompson-Boyce pencil
Adrian spent 100 hours painstakingly producing the pencil portrait

A visitor from New Zealand came back three times to view the drawing before deciding to purchase it after finding Ian’s signature smile irresistible.

“It was put in the gallery last month and there was a lot of interest in it and there was a lot of interest in Ian with people coming up to him on his pitch to tell him that they had seen it,” said Adrian, who spent three months bringing his portrayal of Ian and 11-year-old pointer springer Boycie to life.

“The exhibition finished and I brought it back to my home studio and was spotted here by a guy who came in three times.


The Big Issue magazine is a social enterprise, a business that reinvests its profits in helping others who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or whose lives are blighted by poverty.

“Having artwork in New Zealand is a first for me. I have had some work sold to Hong Kong but that is the only two overseas locations that I know of.

“It’s funny because it is the second pencil portrait that I have sold and the other one was also to someone who had no connection to the person who sold it.

“The guy who bought it said that the drawing made him smile. He was aware of The Big Issue and, for him, what drew him to the picture was Ian’s smile.

“It was a brilliant experience for me and I would love to draw more vendors if possible.”

Ian Duff Boycie Adrian Thompson-Boyce
Ian and Boycie's pencil portrayal is so detailed that some have confused it for a photograph

Adrian was first drawn to using Ian and Boycie as his muse after repeatedly passing the pair – who he quipped were a well-known double act like Morecambe and Wise – on their Union Street pitch in Bath.

And now Ian has admitted that the idea a drawing of him will be hanging on a wall more than 11,000 miles away will take some getting used to.

“It’s a bit of a strange one – I wasn’t quite sure who would want to buy a painting of me,” said Ian, who has sold the magazine for nine years alongside running his catering social enterprise Duff Cooks.

“It’s for £1,500 which is quite a lot for a picture of me and it is quite weird to think someone in New Zealand will have a picture of me on their wall. I wish they’d thrown a holiday to New Zealand in too!”