NYC Flashback

July 6, 2013

Back in 2000 I went to NYC for a second time.

By this point I had been carrying a sketchbook consistently for about two years. You’d think I’d have gotten really good by that point, but alas, I had not. One of the most frustrating things about sketching in public is that strangers always want to take a look at your drawing. And when that drawing sucks, it’s really embarrassing.

Back then my drawings sucked 100% of the time, so I was very self-conscious. But I was also determined to get better, and I knew that the only way to get better was to draw ALL THE TIME, and that meant even in public. Especially in public.

The trip to NYC in 2000 was significant to me because for the first time I was starting to produce sketches that I was proud of.

This guy was playing some sort of weird stringed instrument under a bridge near the Central Park Zoo. It was around this time that I finally started to learn how to hold back and not flood every page with a chaotic mess of lines.

Central Park 2000

Central Park 2000

This is a lightbulb sketch. Compared to what I can do now, it’s not a great drawing, but it represents a moment when I learned something big and stepped up a level.

When I did this sketch I realized that I could avoid a lot of messy confusion by letting the background details trail off before they intersect with the person in the foreground.

At some point a family of tourists came along and videotaped me as I did this sketch. I was so incredibly flattered. And for the first time ever, I was not ashamed to have them see what I was drawing.

By the way, the music this guy played was awesome, and after I did this sketch I bought his CD and have listened to it many times. It was the least I could do after the awesome moment he had given to me.


  1. P.S. Looking at this drawing now I sure wish I could go back and add a shadow on the ground underneath him, whether there was one there or not. As it is, he looks like he’s floating.

  2. That’s my problem. I’m self-conscious when sketching. Sometimes it is not a bad sketch but it doesn’t look like the person, so I feel like someone is going to yell, “Hey that doesn’t look like him!”

    Of course I should realize I’m not the center of the universe. 😉

    • Oh someone will. That has happened to me lots of times. If a 3rd party sees the drawing they say “That doesn’t look anything like them.” If the subject themselves sees it they say “You made me look fat.”

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