January 10, 2021 – “What is Reportage?”
Fred Lynch, Veronica Lawlor
In episode two, Rob Sketcherman was joined by reportage artists Veronica Lawlor and Fred Lynch to share with us what reportage is, their personal approaches to it, and the links and differences between reportage and urban sketching.
|Veronica Lawlor and Fred Lynch|
Fred Lynch joined us from Boston, MA (USA), to talk about his experience with reportage. There are many approaches to sketching and Fred’s is to take a long time to sketch one subject. He doesn’t just capture one moment, but a series of moments, making decisions during the process to help tell the story he wants to tell. He employed his “long look” approach when sketching the homes and workplaces of his immigrant ancestors in the New England area.
Veronica Lawlor joined us from New York City (USA) and told us about her introduction to reportage by the late David J. Passalacqua, an illustrator and professor at Parsons School of Design in New York. Passalacqua led reportage sketching workshops at Disney World (that Veronica later led) that prepared her for quickly capturing people and the sense of a scene, such as one he called “The Gates of Hell” – sketching people as they entered the park through turnstiles.
Throughout her career, Veronica has captured some of the biggest events this country has seen, including the September 11 attacks on New York City and Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. But she reminds us that reportage sketching doesn’t have to be a big story, it can be small daily moments.
If you are trying to find your style, Fred says to try everything and you’ll find that your style is “what you can’t help but do.”
For learning to sketch quickly and confidently, Veronica says that once you can accept what you consider “mistakes” you can be quicker and more confident because you’re not stopping to “fix” anything.
Reportage and urban sketching are part of a continuum and the difference can be your intention. Are you sketching to make a piece of art, to explore color, to record a memory, or are you telling a story to be shared? Reportage is like writing a story to someone or like an essay about an event or place.
Part of reportage is opening yourself up to all of the sensation of an event or place, welcoming interaction and being a part of it, and being open to capturing something in a particular moment in time.
Research is also an important element of reportage because it can help you decide what to focus on as a solid starting point or can lead you to more research after you sketch something.
Portrait of a Day in the Pandemic Create a report by documenting details of your day in a drawing. What we are living through with the pandemic is history, so the way we spend our days is meaningful. As Veronica says, “These little moments add up.”