Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reportage-Telling (Drawing) It Like It Is

These are two sketches from Saturday's class. Not great but they're a start. They were done at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. We're using a 14 x 17 sketch pad. This is a very different size for me. I usually work much smaller or much larger. Mark McMahon, our instructor, defines his work as reportage. He is an energetic and excellent teacher.

There is a definition of reportage here
There are some fabulous examples on this site also. For me there is an energy and an immediacy to reportage that is different than journaling or illustration. It is telling the story of a place or event and the people in a sketch. I still haven't found a definition that explains it clearly. I'm at a point where I don't know what it is but I know it when I see it. I'd love to hear what you understand as reportage!


  1. I love your reportage work here! I've saved that link to go browsing again, too--thank you! Your work is gorgeous! Hope you'll do more.

  2. Thanks for trying to define reportage. More than the words at Studio 1482, the drawings they labeled "reportage" are just stunning! Did you see them? Anyway, I still don't get it, but your drawings are awfully good. Keep Up the good Reportaging! (n.) :)

  3. I tried to figure out what reportage was a while back and like you, I didn't find a Eureka! definition. I offer you my opinion....

    I would define a sketch as reportage if it had all of these four elements:

    1) Real life event
    2) Produced on-site
    3) As the event is happening
    4) Shown in context

    Example 1: Flamenco dancers at a street festival.

    If the artist attended the festival, but then went home and produced a sketch it wouldn't be reportage. A sketch of dancers in the street that was an artist's concept (unwitnessed event) wouldn't be reportage. A sketch of a lone dancer, or even a group of dancers, wouldn't be reportage even if the dancing was a real-life event and produced at it was witnessed. The sketch would have to show the street scene (buildings, crowd, market stalls, etc.) This event wouldn't necessarily be deemed "newsworthy" but would still be classified as reportage.

    Example 2: Woman crying

    A sketch of just a woman crying wouldn't be reportage even if the artist witnessed it and produced the sketch mid-sob. To be reportage it would have to include a bellowing prosecuting attorney, a disinterested judge, and a couple of jury members, or maybe the backs of heads of the courtroom crowd. The sobbing woman would have to be shown in context for it to be reportage.

  4. I love these - I just made an uninformed comment on your Flickr account, but I thought I'd detected a slight difference in style. Reportage is new to me, but it seems, somehow, more immediate?...

  5. These are wonderful, Barbara. But then, I've always enjoyed your work. (I went and purchased the handbook journal because of your work! I loved the way it worked with watercolors.)

    I read the definition you linked to, and well, it does seem a little vague. Though, they have some beautiful work there. I think that just keeping a visual journal is a little like reportage. Isn't it?

  6. Thank you all! I think Speck has hit the nail on the head!

  7. These are all such terrific sketches! Great information too. Sounds like a very interesting class.

    I have an award over on my blog with your name on it if you'd like to stop by!

  8. Barbara! It's such fun to see these! I'm taking a ten- day reportage illustration workshop with Veronica Lawlor and Margaret Hurst (you link to their studio in your post)in Orland, from August 9th through the 20th! I agree with you that there's something so vital about this way of drawing---once I saw Veronica's drawings on Urban Sketchers, I knew I HAD to learn this technique. It'll be fun to follow each other's progress, won't it? So glad I checked in with you today ;D.

  9. I just wanted to let you know about a new forum for artists as well as musicians, fashion designers, and filmmakers, As an artist I think that the mission is really great. The site gives you a free gigabyte of space for portfolio, there is no commission taken for sales, audio and visual works can been streamed in their entirety, you can create live personal broadcasts for your followers, and anything you write will be translated into 10 languages. So check it out!

  10. Here's something I found on Falmouth Univ's (UK) site about a Reportage forum:

    "Arguably one of the most demanding of all forms of illustration - often requiring the capturing of a live event, insightful drawing and accurate visual communication - reportage and documentary illustration has a long and illustrious history, including such artists and illustrators as Otto Dix, George Grosz, Paul Hogarth, Robert Weaver and Ronald Searle."