Tourist with Phone is a screen print from Julian Opie’s Tourist series (2014) that shows a three-quarter length portrait of a man looking down at his phone. The image is rendered in very thick, bold outlines and blocks of bright colour that is representative of Opie’s graphic style.
Opie’s Tourist series shows various people on the streets of London in colourful clothes and with no facial details, yet each appears as a distinct individual with personality. Tourist With Phone conveys the idea of a young man in a city he doesn’t know, looking intently at his phone to figure out where to go next. This portrait is instantly recognisable, an archetypal image of a young person in London, but at the same time is a distinct portrait of an individual.
Tourist With Phone plays into ideas that interest Opie around the sitter refusing the viewers gaze, something that one experiences when wandering the streets of a city. The notion of the sitter refusing to have their portrait made injects the print with a melancholic drama that would not otherwise be felt if the sitter’s face was seen. This sense of melancholy is further emphasised by the sitter’s barely-there facial features, distinguished only by his sunglasses.