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Montreal Art Tattoo Show 2012

September 9, 2012

The Montreal Art Tattoo Show is going on this weekend. I spent yesterday hanging out, watching the artists , body painters, and the mobile art show that is the crowd.

I love the whole concept of etching your artwork on another human. It must be incredibly satisfying for these artists to have their work on permanent exhibition.  Or should I say, permanently on exhibitionists.

There’s a few people out there wearing my drawings – mostly gaming logos I’ve done – but there is this one guy here.

Besides being a fan of the art, I wanted to spend a day tuning up on drawing people. I love the challenge of drawing natural, un-posed subjects.  People who are doing their own thing, ideally unaware they are being sketched.

It’s the same attraction as candid street photography I suppose. You’re finding stories. Interactions you couldn’t plan for. Real attitudes and postures that you couldn’t invent from whole cloth.

Over the next (long term) while, I’ll be compiling a few notes on sketching people in the wild. I want to do a bit more with this next year.

The first few tips that come to mind are:

Be willing to show your drawings. You’re taking their image,  you can’t be shy about showing the results. Often I’ll take down their email and send them the work afterward. (Not this time though, I was trying  not to intrude on the artists. I’m assuming they need to concentrate doing this kind of art, so I wasn’t really chatting with people).

Be polite, don’t stare with laser intensity – hang back, take your time and glance over every so often.

If they catch you drawing, nod, make eye contact and use the international pen-wiggling-over-paper gesture to communicate, “Is it ok if I sketch you?” If they look too weirded out, then just give them a thanks and move on promptly.  To be honest, once they know what I’m doing, I usually wrap it up quickly. I always feel like it’s intruding, or their natural poses will get stiff if they’re aware.

And the main thing, find subjects that are doing something interesting (beyond just waiting for the bus). Both so you have a story to tell with the drawing, and so they don’t simply move off suddenly. Look for public events, performances, or people at work.  I came to the tattoo show knowing I’d find good material. You can find these situations anywhere once you start looking.

Oh yes, since people will ask: 0.7 HB Mechanical pencil on Bristol, 8.5×11”, Digital color, about 10-15 min each.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. sketchysteven permalink
    September 9, 2012 4:13 PM

    I tell yah, it’ll be fun watching your journey. I find that having a sketchbook on me at all times has made all the difference.

  2. September 9, 2012 7:07 PM

    wonderful result, your work looks like etchings themselves, and great tips, i like the “international pen-wiggling-over-paper gesture” very much like the international hand-wiggling-in-the-air gesture for the food bill.

  3. Kai permalink
    September 11, 2012 12:27 PM

    I spent entire Sunday getting my tat outlined and wouldve been honored to have had you sketching. The entire process I knew people were standing around and taking pics, but my focus was on my music to keep my mind off the procedure. I was alone so I didn’t have anyone to take pics or video during it and it was my first tat. Wouldve been nice to have another momento for this occasion plus your sketches look great. Maybe next year…lol.

    • September 11, 2012 1:47 PM

      I might well go again, there was lots to see – maybe next year I’ll be there ‘officially’ showing some paintings :) It’s possible!

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