My Reportage Illustration at a launch event for Manchester Airport: Platform

At the end of February this year, I was thrilled to be commissioned by the Manchester Airport Property Group to capture their first lunchtime event at Manchester Airport’s Transport Interchange. These events, which will include a wide range of community activities, including, food, seminars and product launches (publicized with the hash tag #FarFlungFridays on social media) are aimed at animating the large public realm area and are named Platform  Although video and photography were being employed to create a video of the event, the drawings were considered a welcome addition, as a way of capturing the energy of the occasion and the vibrancy and context of the set up and location. The intention is to use the drawings in marketing material. This blog shares my process and results.

After email exchange and phone discussions, I met with the Marketing manager and director on site the day before the event. This is something I always do before a key project; check out the overall location, potential drawing locations and compositions and any final ideas and comments from the client, as well as key thoughts on materials (type, colour etc). This was a useful meeting where I was able to see the scale, branding (already viewed digitally but nothing is as good as seeing the banners etc in situ), angles and challenges of the location. As you can see from the images, it’s an expansive and complex space (lots of levels and angles) with vibrant branding so required some thinking about the best locations for drawing.

On the day of the event (Friday 24th February) I arrived at the venue early (I wanted to get a head start on capturing some of the setting, especially as the event itself was running 12-2 which isn’t long to capture the whole event).   Realistically with this time frame, it seemed better to select just a couple of key locations to capture all key aspects of the event and although I had initially thought sketching from above would be a good idea, in reality, it was going to give me less than the captures I could obtain on the same level.  I decided on using 2 media: Watercolour paper with watercolour paint and Toned Strathmore grey paper with coloured pencils and wax crayons. A fountain pen and black ink was used for both approaches. 2 main locations were identified, one an angled view, capturing the foodstalls and the Grindsmith Deansgate Coffee house, together with the visitors, in colour first watercolour approaches. The other location enabled a straight on view of the foodstalls and visitors sitting and enjoying their lunch: a crowded and vibrant scene. This same location also enabled a view of the 2 music entertainers. I captured Guy Connor during the first hour of the event.

Ha, it is true to say that the first angled composition gave me some challenges with the colour first but I managed to pull it around in the end. The many angles can make for a few headaches but it also heightens interest in the overall drawing. There were similar challenges with the face-on view for the toned paper, balancing capturing the location and sense of place with the crowds (it was a very successful event!) and activities. You can judge as to how you think I did in capturing it all!


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