Illawarra Mercury. It took Brett Ashby more than 200 digital photographs to create his internationally recognised portrait of Barack Obama. yet none of them were of the President of the United States. In fact, Ashby has never met him. Instead, Brett spent countless hours in his Mt Keira unit painstakingly etching the precise elements of hundreds of travel snaps that would become the eyes, ears and mouth of one of the most recognisable faces in the world.The slender frame of the Statue of Liberty, repeated dozens of times, became the president’s hair, above the McDonald s arches, which form part of the forehead. Other famous US landmarks helped define eyebrow arches and ageing lines, while the country s coins, military aircraft and even former presidents also feature. Ashby s original style, he claims he is the first artist to use the digital technique, has helped thrust him onto the international art scene, with the Obama portrait being selected for two US exhibitions. Ashby made his debut in September when the image was included in a show in Massachusetts, and he will feature in a Miami exhibition to open today and doubles as a competition, with valuable industry recognition. Just being selected from more than 150 entries has been encouragement enough for Ashby, a TV producer, to become a full time artist. Ashby, who developed his technique while studying digital photography in London, said it was fitting his different style was used to portray such a bold man. There was so much attention focused on Barack Obama being the first black American president … it inspired me to apply my style, he said.