To Know as You Draw: Exploring the City through Drawing

Tânia A. Cardoso in Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice 6.1 (2021)

This article considers city illustrations as interpretations by illustrators that take urban space as their primary source. The practice of drawing in the city, what I call drawing in situ, is part of a methodology to construct city illustrations that aims to know as you go carrying out a performance that is not premeditated before departure but discovered along the way. These illustrated cities work as mediators between the physical city and the illustrator’s imagination striving to present alternative perspectives about urban space. The article reflects on how subjective approach and embodied experience in the city emphasize the illustrator’s skills to contemplate, understand, and synthesize the city in one or a series of drawings. The results from drawing in situ become an extension of the illustrator’s body: intimately connected to movement and the direct experience of urban space. Far from simplifying the depiction of the city, the artistic practice as research explores the dynamics between different urban dimensions (architecture, moods, people, and stories) employing the artistic techniques better suited to expressively represent the illustrator’s encounter with the surrounding environment. The article considers my own artistic practice as research, here presented, regards the different ways in which the dynamics of the city enhance, complement, or contradict urban perception and the understanding of urban space by the illustrator.

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