Just returned from Grand Central Station in New York, where I took my class from Parsons the New School for Design to draw. We got into a discussion about reportage, what it is, why it’s so important, why I love it! So, what is reportage? Wikipedia defines reportage as: “the reporting of news, especially by an eyewitness; news or information of general interest that has been reported.” That’s a pretty good definition to start with, but for me it’s much more than that. Reportage is a way of engaging with the world on a personal, emotional level. When I go on location to draw and paint, I really experience the place in a way that is not possible any other way. I have been plotzed on by pigeons in San Marco,chased by an irate jazz musician in New Orleans,surrounded by curious tourists in the Forbidden City (who were scattered by the Chinese army, no less), spritzed by holy water at a Japanese temple,jostled by excited fans at a bullfight and interrogated by a New Jersey patrolman. Not to mention the many, many personal stories related to memory and place that have been entrusted to me over the years by people as I’ve wandered around the world, sketchbook in hand. It’s a way to understand culture, customs and ultimately, human nature. I’ve met so many people through the language of art and drawing, and heard so many stories, that I am convinced if more people went out and drew the environments they inhabit we could clear up a lot of misunderstandings in the world. The drawing at the top of this post of Grand Central Station is one I did a few years ago, for a reportage campaign of American monuments for Brooks Brothers. Grand Central Station is one of the most beautiful architectural interior spaces in New York City, a fact that is impressed upon me more and more every time I go. It was so much fun this morning to see the expression of excitement on one of my students faces as she looked up at the constellations painted on the ceiling. It was her first time there, although she had seen the station featured in movies back home in Poland. We discussed together the difference between seeing a photo of a place and actually being there, picking up the energy and aura of place that every environment has. The conversation got me thinking about New York, my hometown and favorite city. Every part of New York has an aura, and the interesting thing is how that aura changes throughout the day. Each neighborhood in New York is its own world, and it morphs from morning to night, as though the streets were some kind of giant lazy susan to be spun around until the right mood shows up. The meat packing district – 6 am – is still a somewhat industrial part of town, full of trucks and workers — spin the clock to midnight — now it’s a hipsters hangout, full of high heeled women, well suited men, and brightly colored cocktails with ironic names. You can’t beat this city for variety! So I’ve decided to begin a reportage series of New York with this idea in mind. The many faces of Manhattan. This will allow me to approach my home town in the same way that I’ve tried to approach reportage around the world: with an open mind and an inquisitive eye. Not only that, I look forward to the challenge of creating a different graphic feel for the different graphic faces of the island of Manhattan, faces which vary by neighborhood and time of day. I hope you’ll visit the blog from time to time to check it out. thanks!