Contemporary reportage drawing: ecstatic moments and hybridity

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The field of contemporary reportage practice is diverse and divergent. No longer is reportage drawing restricted to the commissioning structures of print media and accompanying expectations of journalistic doctrine. Contemporary reportage disseminates it’s activity largely through online exposure and some specialist print publications such as Eye magazine and Varoom (both devoted to illustration and or design). There has also been a notable split between professional and enthusiast activity with the explosion of Urban Sketchers. This organisation captures the important and previously unseen activity by professionals from a variety of fields within, and on the periphery of art and design along with amateur enthusiasts. For many within Urban Sketchers, this activity is about refining vision and the pure pleasure of engaging with their surroundings. The important split between this activity and ‘professional’ reportage artists is in the terms of their engagement. In contemporary reportage drawing, practitioners are seeking subjects and circumstances that are both personally significant and provide some opportunity to exploit the political and
social dimensions of their subject. The authorial shift in reportage drawing is not a refutation of its journalistic origins and rather takes those ideals and applies them inward. Contemporary practitioners are setting their own briefs and find sustenance in un-explored political and social terrain while mining the qualities of their own drawing. This contemporary moment for reportage drawing has come to be most vividly about drawing itself. In a crowded and quickly moving media landscape, drawing becomes a visible reminder of the power and limitations of the hand and all that tells us about vision, witness and the layers of understanding contained in marks and lines that are dashed out in confrontation with a world in flux. This paper seeks to explore past and contemporary reportage artists and my own work as an example of how the practice has come to highlight the qualities of drawing and experience and, how self-initiated work has meant an evolution of the relationship between text, image and journalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-27
Number of pages20
JournalBlack Book Drawing and Sketching Scientific Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • reportage drawing
  • drawing


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