The Oxford English Dictionary cites the origin of the word ‘reportage’ to come from the Early 17th century French, from Old French reporter ‘to carry back’. In this way, reportage illustration is a form of visual journalism, visual storytelling. You go out into the world around you and take back with you that experience. That memory, in drawn form, with pen, and ink and…. whatever else it is possible to record onto a surface with.
On my website, I talk about my illustrational work focusing upon capturing a sense of place, a sense of occasion and a sense of emotion. It is these three key elements that I am drawn to in my work. These elements are the basis of my Reportage drawing Illustration work. Over the last year or so, I have been fortunate enough to receive a number of commissions related to these areas of interest. They have been born partly out of my background in landscape and garden design and place-making and partly out of some inspirational commissioners who could see how I could tell their story through drawing. For that, I am extremely grateful. You have set me on a path that I both love and can develop and evolve within, calling on existing skills whilst developing new ones. The idea of documentary drawing, of capturing something as you see it, as it is happening has a special ‘draw’ for me. It inspires me to try to capture the ‘essence’ that is that place, that occasion, that emotion. I scoot around looking for those elements. The clues that make it that location, that celebration, that feeling and atmosphere and then put them to paper, with narrative to help support the visuals. Here are some snapshots of some of my previous work:
Festivals, events and celebrations
I attended a number of key festivals and celebrations over the past year, including the Manchester Histories festival and The Chinese New Year celebrations. Drawing is a great way of capturing the life and the action as it is happening. Spontaneous drawings have a vibrancy and an appeal that is unique and very different to other media. They can be used effectively in marketing and for social media campaigns and websites.
I was previously trained as a garden designer. Therefore, the RHS shows and gardens as places for reportage illustration have a bit of a pull for me! Here’s a simple sketch capturing some of the show at Chelsea in 2015.
It is so wonderful to be able to capture all 3 of my areas of interest, place, occasion and emotion in wedding drawings! All these elements tell the most important stories of the day. I have been involved in capturing the essense of the venue and attending celebrations to capture the day. More Wedding Reportage illustration is planned and I feel privileged to be involved in these most personal of occasions.
Building development and restoration
There is so much development and restoration going on in most major cities. The idea of capturing that evolution and change on a specific site is a really exciting one for me as a reportage artist. These snapshots are of a couple of buildings that are about to be redeveloped in Manchester. Ancoats Dispensary and London Road Fire Station. Whilst these initial sketches are not a detailed view of the developments, the opportunity for capturing through drawing is clear.
I was fortunate enough last July to have been invited to be the Local correspondent for the 7Th International Urban Sketching Symposium held in Manchester. These drawings were done in association with daily written blogs to tell the story of the happenings for this 3-day event. This of course is a useful journalistic tool for lots of events like this one.
Most sketchers love to travel. When I am travelling I am using my interest in ‘Sense of Place’ to capture the essence of a place in my drawings. Here are some examples: Australia, Greece and Wales. Of course there are lots of ways that these types of drawings could be used, in brochures, books etc.
If you are interested in following my reportage illustration tales, then please sign up to my blog so that you receive an email when I publish one. If you are interested in commissioning, then please contact me here. Watch out for some exciting Reportage projects next week, which I will be sharing on my social media channels.