LONDON, ONT. -- One day last July, the life of London, Ont. artist Dan Pietens was forever changed after just one message.

It came from the National Hockey League.

They wanted to know if they could share a pencil drawing Pietens had posted online of the hall of famer Peter Forsberg.

“My wife and I thought it was a joke at first,” Pietens tells CTV News.

But they quickly realized the request was legitimate and accepted the offer.

“Obviously a no brainer, your platform is much greater than mine ever will be. so please go for it.”

The league did, and in the coming months opted to share even more portraits Pietens has created.

Pietens says NHL stars are also taking notice and commissioning him to create a pencil portrait.

“Quite a few have reached out to me, which is just as exciting as the NHL wanting to do interviews and share my art.”


A post shared by Dan Pietens (@pietensart)

All the attention has created a new career for a man who hadn’t touched a pencil since art class at London’s Montcalm Secondary School.

While drawing has always been a passion, he felt the need to secure a steady paycheck and trained to be a physiotherapist then later a web designer.

But after just a few years in that field his artistic side pushed him back to art. He says it’s amazing that his first portrait caught enough attention to create a new career.

“I’ve had a lot of different jobs, even careers I would call them. But, nothing has been like this, where I was excited to start the job and then I just got more and more excited as time went on.”

Pietens art is made using a sports photo he chooses based on its intensity.

“I’m always looking back to the reference photo. Does it look like the reference photo, does it also come across the way I want it to come across?”

Using a grid he creates the basis of the drawing. He then spends upwards of 30 hours recreating even the most minute details, down to reflections seen in a player’s visor.


A post shared by Dan Pietens (@pietensart)

And it’s not just NHL stars showing interest in his work.

While they commission some of his originals, Pietens has been selling affordable prints to the general public.

“The greatest honour for me is knowing that somebody wants to have my art and wants to have it in their home. And, I don’t like the idea that money is going to be an obstacle to that.”

And for a man who has overcome many obstacles to find his way back to his dream career, there is one he hasn’t overcome.

The life-long hockey fan (his favourite NHL team is the Colorado Avalanche) has never donned a pair of skates.

“My wife kept saying to me, It’s never too late, it’s never too late, but it would be hilarious to see me on skates I’ll tell you that.”

Still, it’s a 'picture' he doesn’t rule out.

You can see more of Pietens art here.