Reportage Illustration

I am currently over half way writing my Dissertation! The reading has been a lot of fun, researching how to translate observational drawing in characters for children’s books.

Visual Communication feels like a fundamental skill to explore before attempting to develop characters. I have been reading about Reportage Illustrators to learn about their approaches to observational drawing and how they communicate emotion and a sense of place through their drawings. Reportage is event based, recording significant events happening in the world, this gives an insight into the illustrators experience as the drawing evolves over time.

 ‘A situation has to be experienced, understood and processed before it can be relaxed through the hand.’ (Reportage Illustration: Visual Journalism)

Jenny Soep is a reportage illustrator who captures live music scenes as she experiences them. She records her thoughts, sounds, conversations, how she feels emotionally and physically in response to what she is drawing. Soep selects what she experiences as essential to the event, as she draws, focusing on shape and detail.

The shape of the piano and figures are created with a wash, and then line is used to depict important detail. Water colour wash can be applied quickly to get the overall composition, and there is a beautiful quality to how the wash dry’s that adds a sense of the passing of time. The line looks soft, like a coloured pencil, that can work over the wet wash to delicately capture the moment. The facial expressions show the emotion of the performance, and the clothing shows the formal, intimate setting of the concert. The figure creates the context for the shapes; you know it’s a piano because of the figure playing. I love the subtle colours for the odd socks; these little details suggest something of the personality of the musician.

New York Subway from video
London Street Music from video

Above, I have drawn from video some live music scenes to explore communicating visually with observational drawing. I felt very moved drawing these scenes, and seeing the impact music had on people. They are both extremely talented and captured people’s attention with a mindful pause during the hustle and bustle of the streets. I wanted to capture the moving figures around the musicians, with the musicians more grounded in the drawing acting as a pivot for the rest of the scene to move around. I drew in layers, firstly with brush pen, then pencil and lastly neo colour wax crayon, to build up the moving energy of the scenes.

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