Drawing live from 9(pm) to 5(am)
From the outset, sketching at live gigs needed some rules. Consistency on the page anticipates and accommodates certain kinds of calculated chaos on stage and in the crowd. The rules I draw by account for, and contend with, the particular conditions of being in the audience yet not behaving like it, and sketching at all scales of venue, at tiny clubs, concert halls, stadium shows.
1: If there’s a choice between just listening and taking photos or filming a gig, just listen.
If there’s a choice between listening and drawing too, draw.
2: Only draw live. No drawing from photos.
3: One archival ink pen, one grey marker, one gridded notepad. No Sh*rpies. No eraser.
4. Any location: Outdoors, indoors, low light, daylight, limelight, standing, seated.
5: Only the gigs of musicians you want to hear. No fangirl bingo.
6. Select someone besides the band leader, pick one pose. Pay patient attention.
7: Drawing during a set is its own live act. Screw up, carry on.
8: The closer the stage, the better the sketch. But not always.
9: Live acts don’t stand still, musicians are life models in motion.
Portraiture isn’t really the goal. In any case, name the performer.
10: Share sketches from the venue, during the show.
11: No retouching: Photoshop is only for background colors.
12: Feed Instagram with experiments and work in progress,
feed Soundpapered.com and exhibits with highlights.
Over time, my methods shifted from pen and paper to phone screen and fingers-as-stylus. The screen imposes its own constraints, but also opens up possibilities, not least for sharing the work before a gig is over. The list above is specific to this project and reflects my own way of working rather than generally prescriptive; your own project demands its own process, its own list.
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