In one of the classes I’ve been teaching this term we introduced the illustration ‘genre’ of reportage. What is reportage drawing?
Reportage is “event-based,” meaning that it is an art applied to things of significance happening in the world. The illustrator acts as a particular kind of visual journalist, capturing the dynamics of unfolding events through their artwork. Reportage combines sketching the appearance of a scene as well as striving to understand and communicate a story through visual language. The areas where it is most frequently used include (1) courtrooms; (2) social events such as concerts or demonstrations; (3) news reports and investigations; or (4) documentaries, including wars and conflicts.
– Reportage Illustration: Visual Journalism by Gary Embury and Mario Minichiello
The ‘things of significance’ bit is something we expanded to include auto-biographical and not-so-significant (perhaps) things; we shared some examples of Hourly Comics Day works by different artists.
We tied this into a small project: they were asked to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, or alternatively local galleries, record their experiences and observations and turn it into a zine. A Reportage Zine! I went myself this week, and ran into multiple students while I was there– they seemed to be enjoying it. I’m excited to see what they come up with! And to expand on my own recordings.
Prior to introducing it to the students, however, I had been reading up on it myself, which filtered into some small daily sketchbook pages (of my fresh new sketchbook!):
What’s the difference between observational and reportage drawing? I think observational drawing is a technique and aspect that is a part of reportage– the illustrator’s eye is at work, and there’s this aspect of being present and witnessing. I think being there and experiencing the event is an important part of it (which raises questions about journalistic drawings based off of photographs, purely…), in my opinion. I’m finding writing is often a part of it, too. Annotations, notes, and written observations, built into the picture itself.
I’ve been enjoying it! And something about it brings me into a state of mind where I’m actively noticing things around me. I like to think I’m a fairly aware person that notices my surroundings, but that certainly isn’t always the case. By being in the act of ‘reporting’, or even mentally bookmarking things for future recording, I can purposefully sink into a more focused, observational state of being. And I feel like there’s almost an element of serendipity that comes into play: suddenly odd, beautiful, even poetic things start to happen around me.
Or perhaps is more that my view of them becomes one of poetry: linking fragments together, looking for meaning within them.
I wrote the About This Place post earlier today, and this reminds me: in a way, the purpose of this blog is to report on my own doings and makings, like reportage drawing.