Reportage: Minimum Wage Protests

Last month I covered one of many minimum wage protests held around New York for the website 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. IcantBreathe_rally2 IcantBreathe_rally
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.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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10 Responses to Reportage: Minimum Wage Protests

  1. Fabio says:

    Excellent! Congratulations! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret Hunt says:

    Love these. Crowd sketching. I always think its funny they never notice you standing there drawing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margaret, they always notice, and are fine with it, even encouraging… the crowd in front of me though, was totally engrossed in listening to the speakers. The jostling is just form so many people in such a small space. Inevitable, really.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. marctaro says:

    Great job! That must have been a real rush – to get it all in a flurry like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynn Holbein says:

    Thank you so much for explaining your process!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. nenamatahari says:

    Those are amazing! It takes a lot of talent to be able to draw quickly like that in such an unpredictable environment. =) Have you thought about doing art for trials? I bet you’d be great at that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. susa, some of these are sharpie and some are with a kuretake brushpen.


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