Mapping experience in reportage drawing

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Reportage drawing is a complex activity bringing together layers of experience, acquisition, intention and reflection. Through my own practice, and the practice of other reportage artists, I seek to identify in the reportage act the unique affordances of on-the-spot drawing for articulating complex and layered ideas about the places they depict. The drawings, both individually and as a whole, map out an experience that is both idiosyncratically the artist’s and, gestures to a wide range of commentaries. These are both intentional and unintentional and point to the ways in which artists value the act for purging the contrivances of their own presuppositions and agendas.

Reportage, as I am defining it here, is the contemporary practice of drawing people and places in situ from observation, memory, imagination or some combination there of. Practitioners approach the act in differing ways but the work is necessarily shaped by direct experience and artists, without exception, engage in an inevitable dialogue between themselves and the nature of their drawing practice. This work is often removed from the expectations and confines of commissioners and represents highly personal practice that extends the artist’s thematic considerations and the aesthetic potential of their drawing. This work, by virtue of its production, also provides a unique commentary on the potentiality of drawing as a means of documentation and as a distinctive filter from which to view the modern world.

This paper aims to demonstrate that the totality of the reportage experience is rooted in the circumstances of production and that the drawing itself is both intentionally and unintentionally imbued with the perceptual realities of fluid environments and the latency of artistic intent. The work of two practicing reportage artists and their own commentary upon their drawing will be discussed along with my own work and thoughts. Specific drawings will be referenced to highlight the narrative of their production and the formal choices of the artist in-situ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-302
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Illustration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • drawing
  • experience
  • in situ
  • observation
  • place
  • reportage drawing


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