Last month I covered one of many minimum wage protests held around New York for the website eater.com. Here is a link to the piece, which had reports from all over the country. The protest I covered was to be held at 57th Street and 7th Avenue. The first really organized groups that got there are in the sketches below. They wore shirts that read “I can’t breathe” and carried signs with the “Fight for $15” message on them.
The main protest, which included lots of speeches, police barriers to control the crowds, and thousands of people, had moved a block over to 6th Avenue. Sketching in the middle of a huge bustling crowd is always exciting. And challenging. You need to be skilled at elbowing your way through a crowd. And then there’s the issue of drawing and painting when you’re being jostled around continually. But most of all, there’s the challenge of seeing over and past a crowd where everyone is taller and bigger than you. With a camera, you can raise your hands above your head for a shot and use a zoom to close in on your subject matter. With sketching, you need to compose your sketch and “zoom in” and catch the action, all with composition, and all in a few minutes.
On the left is a shot I took with my phone, hands raised, zoomed in. On the right is the sketch I made standing where I was, catching glimpses of the action above the heads of the crowd. Like I said, it was very challenging. And exciting.
The three pieces above are the ones that appeared in the final piece. But there were lots more sketches I started on and either abandoned or didn’t send in, because the subjects moved away, the composition didn’t work, or because they just didn’t say enough. Below are a few imcompletes and rejects.
My timeframe to get all this done? About an hour: the rally itself lasted about 45 minutes and the crowds dispersed as soon as it was done. Yes, it’s guerilla sketching. And I loved it.