The Overlying, The Underlying: Part 1

The primer for this project was to illustrate 9 scenes just from looking outside your window and doing one illustration in color based from the previous work. It was deliberately made to be "boring", to force us to depict the mundane. The problem is that I live on the fourth floor in a neighbourhood were most buildings at most have two. I couldn't see anything that caught my interested. I solved that by depicting different views and doing half of them during the night.

The whole gang met at Southbank in London, a special place in London with modernistic buildings that feature art centre, galleries, skate park and diners. We were asked to make sketches of our surroundings and focus on specific themes, like love, reflections and so on. We would then create a reportage narrative through comics, animation or poster.

Ifound this project a very challenging one. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t find any angle that really interested me. Yes, there was a graduation ceremony the first day, but it just lasted a couple of hours. The place? Well, maybe I’m damaged by Sweden, but I don’t find functionalism architecture especially inspirational. I even thought the themes where a bit shallow, especially when you compare it to the work of George Butler, Marjane Satrapi & Joe Sacco. I did two half-hearted attempts on themes, one that focused on movement through the Southbank Centre and the other on eye-catching details, but it still didn’t work for me.

I discussed these problems with my tutor and we brainstormed different solutions. Somewhere during the conversation I remembered an experience when I found a huge cardboard lying in a tunnel. I wondered who had left it there before I realized someone has slept on it during the night. The area itself has a lot of bridges and tunnels that offers shelter during the cold nights. I had an epiphany! My theme would be the contrast between those who make themselves at home and those who are at home at Southbank.

Yes, I found a syringe on the street. Yes, I thought about adding it to my trash collection. Relax, I didn't take it with me.

It is painfully clear in hindsight that I didn’t think the whole concept through when I stared. I thought I just could walk to the first homeless person I could find and ask for permission to portray ze in exchange for cash or food. But when I stood in front of a guy, I got cold feet. I realized I projected my own prejudices about the homeless onto him, thinking that he would see my offer as an opportunity. But he didn’t beg, he wasn’t in desperate need of my help. He was just sitting there, looking at me. And I stared back until I walked away, ashamed.

It could have end here, but after 20-25 meters I tried to hide and sketch him anyway. I don’t know why I did it. It felt weird, intruding in his personal space, observing him on a distance. I think he thought the same, because he left the tunnel once he realized that I watched him from afar. This moment, stained by my prejudice, would later become the climax of my narrative.