NYC Sketchbook

On Wall street

I wanted to capture the sense of isolation in the financial district on Manhattan, a place where the buildings tower above you and the streets turn into dark alleys. As soon as I spotted the American International Building, which is now known as 70 Pine St, I knew I'd found the perfect building for the print.

The illustration

I found a good spot on the corner of Wall street and Front street to capture the American International Building. To get the shot I crouched down on the ground with the camera and tripod and waited for a suitable (and preferably suited) character to walk past. It was unusually quiet on Wall street that morning and in the end my wife Lotta ran up to a well dressed man asking if he could walk past the camera. He kindly obliged and we got this perfect shot.

After that I spent many weeks tracing the outline of the buildings (and all those windows!). Finally I added some colour and shading to make the final print come together.

To Brooklyn...

I wanted to do a print from Brooklyn and spent a couple of days walking around the area - visiting Dumbo, Williamsburg and Greenpoint. In the end I chose a couple of shots I'd taken on the corner of John Street and Pearl Street in Dumbo, which offer a great view of the Manhattan Bridge and then the Brooklyn Bridge behind it.

I waited on the street and saw plenty of interesting Brooklyn characters walk past. Lotta also stepped into the print, because none of the other people walked past the "right side of the camera". The trains were rattling over the bridge and the location felt like the perfect spot to capture some neighbourhood's charm.

The illustration

I used six photos to create the final illustration. I wanted the bridge to be the centre piece of this print, but the characters play a big part in it too, as does the Manhattan skyline.

A day in Harlem...

I went up to Harlem on a sunny weekday. Straight out of the metro I ended up chatting to two rappers selling their records on the street. They kindly posed in front of the Apollo theatre, but somehow the shots didn't really work.

The illustration

I spent some time hanging around the Apollo, people watching and trying to find the best angle to photograph the building. As I was crouching down on the pavement the characters you can see in the print walked past – adding a bit of Harlem style to the print.

The Apollo theatre was the first print I started working on in the New York series. There are plenty of choices that go into making a print. Which details should be picked out of a photograph, which colours should be used, what should be turned into a half-tone and what should stay as a block colour.

For the Apollo print I decided to pick out a couple of silver details, like the jewellery the two main characters are wearing. The colour adds a bit of bling to the final print.

The Highline

The final print in our New York series was taken of West 14th Street from the Highline. I spent a day walking up and down the Highline trying to find the right spot for the print. I liked the open view of West 14th street, which seemed like a classic New York street, with plenty of traffic and the road looking very much like a valley between all the buildings.

The illustration

In this print I decided to pick a couple of characters who are repeated in the traffic. Can you pick out which ones?

A Midtown beauty

I wanted do a print of one of the classic New York skyscrapers and had already decided that the Chrysler building was the one. After a couple of days of walking around central Manhattan, taking snaps of other famous buildings I had made up my mind. Nothing says New York quite like this stunning skyscraper.

The illustration

The original photos for the Chrysler illustration were taken on the crossing between 41 Street East and Lexington Avenue.

In this print I wanted to capture the madness of New York, the traffic and the flow of people in central Manhattan. The iconic New York taxi is one of the stars of this print. But the main man is of course the Chrysler building itself.