Reportage, An Introduction

To start, if you have not read Eddie Peña’s post on reportage illustration, go do it now and come on back. For one, he simply defines it as it is and elegantly goes on to describe his connection to reportage. The second reason is to see his drawing of the Eiffel Tower. I had the fortune to travel with Eddie on that trip. Neither of us had been to Paris prior to that excursion and each of us walked away with more than we could have dreamed of. That drawing is very Eddie and everything that is his being. To know him is to know his art, and trust me that drawing screams Eddie. Powerful, smart and on the mark in a way only Eddie could hit.Each of us in the Studio is engrossed in the world of reportage and each of us relays what we see, first hand and on the spot, in a different way. Before I entered the business I was shown this world of reportage, thus altering every move I have made since. Truthfully, it takes time to understand how reportage works in today’s market, but none the less, you find the way the longer you push it. Reportage is a discipline—my foundation, my experiment and my sounding board—it is how I relate to the audience I am working to connect with. Building on the lessons of every school and every art movement that has come before, I throw myself into the fire and see what I can create.I think through my illustration; mulling over, sometimes attacking, but always finding what comes next through my drawing. To get a better understanding, remove yourself from your routine for a moment. Lean out your office for a few minutes and just look. Let go of your assumptions and let it absorb into your mind for as long as you can. What do you see? How do people behave? What are they talking about? How do they interact with each other? How do they connect? Behind the work they are doing, what are they really concerned with? What are you finding out that you didn’t realize because you were busy being a part of the interaction that you are watching? Now, bring yourself back into the picture, not as a character, but as the narrator and director. What in this little scene is important? How do you tell the story and get across what you see?This is the beauty of reportage. The drawings are my notes, my understanding of what is going on, how the world works and how we interact. There is so much talk of interaction, but more and more it is between person and machine. But the machines are tools, built by a person, for a person. Our fates lie in the nature of our interaction from one person to another. Conversation and dialogue. How I relate to you and you relate to me. Sitting in the middle of the action, I tell my stories in images, sometimes linear, sometimes graphic, sometimes full blown color, sometimes quiet and unassuming. I take these stories home and I find more, I go back out and I gather again. The process is constant and ever evolving, just as our lives are.eiffeltower.jpgWhich brings me back to Eddie. I had the honor to have some great conversations with him while we were in Paris. I have known Eddie longer than most anyone else who I remain close with to this day. We have both been right there for each others careers, tagging along on location when the other had a job to complete. Working at the same time in a place that neither of us was familiar with was the greatest example of reportage at its best. The sites were the same, the history of the places were the same, for all intensive purposes, all things in front of us were equal. What was not was how we each think. How we each walked through finding what was important. Eddie brings one direction to the table, I another, even when we are standing in the same spot. Not just our drawings and the work that we put down, but the thinking that shows up in that work. Our work is our language. Finding new material to work with, our languages evolved while in Paris, but they always remained our own personal languages. Each mark and each line made a connection to people who neither of us understood when we heard them, but understood when when we watched them. That connection is what makes our work, and reportage focuses us right in on finding that connection.


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  1. reportage illustrators dot com » Blog Archive » Rediscovering Reportage In Paris

    […] spending some time in Paris, Dominick Santise finds the meaning of reportage grows just a little […]

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