re·port·age• n ( style of) reporting events• a term for an eye-witness genre of journalism: an individual journalist’s report of news, especially when witnessed firsthand, this style of reporting is often characterized by travel and careful observationFor hundreds of years artists and illustrators have had the responsibility of informing the reader/viewer through drawing. The emergence of the photographic journalist has left a large chasm where once illustrators flourished. The severed limb that is reportage took some time to recover from this almighty blow, but over the past decade illustration has witnessed a resurgence. We now operate in a field that is cool, sought after and in vogue, from underdog to top-dog. Reportage is back.
Spearheading this mighty charge forward has to be Lucinda Rogers. Her work has now appeared in The Independent, Daily Telegraph, Guardian, New Yorker Magazine and Esquire in addition to having worked for Penguin Books, Shakespeare's Globe and so much more. Lucinda has shown the world how versatile reportage illustration can be, and what it offers above photography.
Lucinda works commercially and exhibits the work which she creates when traveling in galleries. In 2003 she was offered an exhibit and having worked primarily in New York up until then she turned her focus closer to home and worked around the east-end with a focus on the Spitalfields area. Primarily to capture people working.
This is one example of the work which made it to the exhibition. 'Night in the kitchen at the Beigel Bake, looking out towards Brick Lane'. The mixture of the bold thick lines and the intricate finer lines create this astounding depth when seen through the perspective of Lucinda's keen eye. The detailing isn't overwhelming to the slightest extent. Everything feels necessary. Excluding any strong colour other than that of the warm paper just sets the drawing alight with energy. Lucinda creates the entire image on location, in one go, over a period of hours. The drawing succeeds in recording an event. Her work goes beyond capturing a scene or a location, but instead records the day, the time. Lucinda comments about her work "You are making something that’s less factual and more subjective... Everything that I draw changes…”. It is because of Lucinda's ability to capture atmosphere and the senses that she works so successfully as an exhibitionist and a commercial illustrator.
Oliver Kugler works in a way so different from Lucinda it could be interpreted as a different discipline all together. The reportage of Kugler, acts as almost a comic book. This piece taken from a string of Guardian G2 supplements entitled 'Kugler's people', in which he travels around and talks with people. He captures people we could walk past in the street in these vivid roughly paneled spreads, and scribbles their stories in between the lines of his drawings. Filling every millimeter of spare space with information including entirely separate drawings taken from mismatching angles and placed in because we need to see and hear these things! Kugler communicates with us in a much different way to Lucinda. Emphasizing important information with colour and in fact designing the pages as well as he illustrates them. Kugler goes beyond capturing an image with a pen. He captures a sequence of images and formulates them with his text to inform us.
Now for a stark contrast. Times artist Gabriel Campanario a.k.a 'The Seattle Sketcher' works in a much looser fashion. Combining his articles with sketchbook book pages, he adds a new dimension to the field of journalism. Now we the reader visit the scene with the writer. Though Gabriel's illustrations are very simple and quick they show character and charm. Much like Lucinda, Gabriel tries to draw with atmosphere, through his use of colour and by controlling the care taken with his line he emphasizes areas.
This is one of those circumstances where it would be all to easy to take a camera, but the journaling is what makes Gabriel's column so fascinating. Its a much more personal experience to read the article which for most of the time consists of what read like journal entries, documenting the people he meets and places he visits and evens local to the readers, when accompanied by the signature scribbles of his travels. Like watercolour memories. In this respect his finished article is much like Kugler's. A snippet of these peoples lives, illustrated by themselves, it feels much like peering into someone's diary.