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Welcome to Armchair Travels, an invitation to travel around the world through the reportage illustration of Studio 1482.We have gathered art from our travels to share with you in the hopes that, while you can’t get out and see these places (yet), our experiences may bring some happiness and light to your day. Please check back often as we will be posting new adventures weekly.
Enjoy Times Square, NYC by Greg Betza…
Times Square, that section of midtown New York City that has been referred to as the “Crossroads of the World”amongst other things (both favorable and not so much). It is a place that many native New Yorkers avoid at all costs and yet it is a not-to-be-missed destination for all tourists.
As a New Jersey native that spent a great deal of time in New York City, I have a certain fondness for Times Square, though I completely understand why you’d want to avoid it as well. What a contradiction!
Speaking of contradiction, could there be a place more antithetical to our current “new normal”? To think of the thousands of people that would traverse the area each day; have it reduced to a near ghost town in a matter of weeks. Chalk that up to things I’d never thought I’d see.
It was the masses of people that first brought me to Times Square to draw. It was a challenge. So many people, so much movement, even more personality. The architecture, the advertising, the lights! To learn to capture and tell that story was a lesson so important in my development as a reportage artist and illustrator. Here are a few early attempts.
Trips to draw here gave me the full sensory experience. Ears assaulted by honking horns, indiscernible shouts, tourists asking for directions…, music, discernible expletives, and of course, the pigeons!
The smells. Oh boy. From hot garbage in the summer, to the constantly wafting smell of something frying from the endless row of chain restaurants.
And watch your step, the garbage cans often overflow!
Now while this may sound horrible, it is what makes Times Square unique and as an artist you need to take it all in…the good and the bad, to tell the truth with your reportage. And despite all of this (and there is more) people flock here anyway and stay awhile. As did I, many, many times.
On a more positive note, looking up and around when you are here is inspiring. On the surface it can appear a soulless theme park devoted to consumerism, but if you can get past that tired and overused criticism, Times Square is home to so many visions realized. As a student of advertising I love to see the campaigns compete with each other publicly. How each brand approaches this space and how they utilize technology to bring their message to the masses is truly impressive. It’s a constantly evolving gallery.
One of the last times I spent a long day drawing in Times Square was back in 2010 when Mayor Bloomberg closed several sections to traffic, allowing the area to become more pedestrian friendly. I remember it was a very peaceful day, the people seemed to enjoy the space more than they had in the past and I believe I noticed more native New Yorkers hanging around that day too :)