In & Of Itself

I had the distinct privilege of witnessing an astounding presentation of mind-blowing illusion and empowering story. In & Of Itself stars the amazing Derek DelGaudio. It was directed by the illustrious Frank Oz and produced in part by Neil Patrick Harris. I don't want to give anything away, but just know that I left the theater with an immense sense of wonder and deeper feelings of goodwill toward my fellow humans. The show has extended until September 3, 2017. Go!

Derek DelGaudio in In & Of Itself.

Derek DelGaudio in In & Of Itself.

A BIG Broadway season!

We were treated to quite the cavalcade of art and entertainment on Broadway over the 2016-2017 season. There were 38 shows that opened. Twenty of those were musicals, and of the musicals, 12 were new musicals. Such a bounty! I had the opportunity to recap the season of musicals in a couple of ways. Perhaps the most exciting project looks to become an annual adventure. I worked with Broadway Records (head honcho Van Dean and graphic designer Robbie Rozelle) to illustrate the very first Tony season CD, a compilation of songs from the season's musicals!

2017 Tony Season CD illustration

2017 Tony Season CD illustration

All the musicals of the season were invited to take part and all shows represented on the CD are included in the cover illustration. Then each show's part of the illustration is included inside the booklet on their respective pages. All of this came together in very short period of time, and it was like putting together a big puzzle as we heard which shows would take part. Such a fun project! You can purchase the CD at Broadway Records or digitally on iTunes.

And in a bit of synchronicity, Van and my partner in The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ Dori and I came up with a cross promotion with the cards. The first 1000 to order a hard copy of the CD got a limited edition card that I created from the art. Worlds coming together!

The CD, booklet, and limited edition trading card.

The CD, booklet, and limited edition trading card.


Squigs' 2016-2017 Broadway Musicals poster.

Squigs' 2016-2017 Broadway Musicals poster.

I've also been playing with the idea of creating more stuff. Stuff to sell and celebrate! The brainstorming has first resulted in a 2016-2017 Musicals poster, featuring bits of my Broadway Ink sketches from throughout the year. The poster is available at my Etsy shop and at the Theatre Circle store on 44th Street in the Broadway Theater District.

Poster Art: Pride & Prejudice

My friend Katie Wilson teaches theatre at Cathedral Catholic High School near San Diego and she occasionally enlists me to draw posters for her kids' productions. Here's one of which I'm particularly happy with the results. A richly-patterned wallpaper on a manor wall highlighting five ladies (the Bennet daughters) and two gents (Mssrs. Bingley and Darcy). Simple palette (moss, salmon, grey). Hand lettering. It was a very enjoyable assignment.

A Furry Holiday!

I'm happy to say that my next partnership with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the design of a holiday card that's on sale this upcoming season to raise money for the charity. Employees at BC/EFA sent me photos of their four-legged family members and I drew them into a festive, scarf-laden holiday party scene.

You can purchase these as your holiday correspondence in boxes of 12 for $25. Click here to hit the shop! And happy holiday season! (If you count Halloween as a holiday.) Merry and happy!

Squigs Update: Celebration!

Changing. As we sit here.
Quick! Draw it all, Georgie!
– Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

If you know my work, it's very possible you discovered it on Broadway.com.  Paul Wontorek and Beth Stevens and the Broadway.com team have given and continue to give me some great real estate on their wonderful and acclaimed website.  In addition to being given a consistent platform over the past six-and-a-half years, I've also been afforded the possibility of seeing almost every Broadway show that has opened in that time.  In return, I've been given the chance to document and celebrate said shows which I've done in various degrees of success.  I think that this perennial student of life is getting better every day.  The situation rocks.  I'm so grateful.  I don't foresee this changing.

Now, while I occasionally get assigned to draw Off-Broadway shows or limited runs or concerts, many of the events in this saturated artsy metropolis don't get earmarked for the official Squigs treatment.  But sometimes I go see these shows and I get inspired.  Sometimes I create some art to celebrate that which inspires me.  I am going to start posting these pieces (fully-realized, pen & ink sketches, sketchbook doodles, etc.) here on the Squigs Knows His Lines blog. No set schedule.  And often limited by what the schedule will allow.  But this will be fun.  I can give you a glimpse at performances that – while they aren't part of my usual assignments – catch my eye and my heart.  I experienced most of these over the summer and early autumn:

Small Mouth Sounds at Playwrights Horizons. Written by Bess Wohl and directed by Rachel Chavkin, told mostly in silence.

Small Mouth Sounds an Ars Nova production at Signature Theatre Company. Written by Bess Wohl and directed by Rachel Chavkin, told mostly in silence.


Stew and Heidi's creation "at the crossroads of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll." The Total Bent at the Public Theater.

Stew and Heidi's creation "at the crossroads of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll." The Total Bent at the Public Theater.


An innovative staging of The Secret Garden wherein a revolving panorama was filmed in synchronicity with the performance to provide scenery and tone. Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia.

An innovative staging of The Secret Garden wherein a revolving panorama was filmed in synchronicity with the performance to provide scenery. Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia.

Phyllida Lloyd's 2016 all-female retelling of Taming of the Shrew starring Janet McTeer and Cush Jumbo. The Public Theatre's Delacorte Theatre in Central Park.

Greg Hildreth as Costard in Love's Labours Lost. Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA.


This illustration differs from the others in this blog post because it was actually commissioned. I saw this show and was incredibly inspired by it. Folks involved asked if I was going to draw it, but since I hadn't been assigned to do it and my work load was incredibly full at the time, I had to say no. A friend of the two stars commissioned this piece and I tackled it when I was able. Such a good show! Fortress of Solitude at The Public Theater.


With boot-stompin' Americana and Big Easy jazz by Anais Mitchell and creative direction by Rachel Chavkin, Hadestown went all Greek tragedy on the New York Theatre Workshop.


So, keep an eye out for occasional blog posts from me. Then follow the link to Squigs Knows His Lines for the glorious lint that clogs my brain and heart. And please also be sure to follow my lines at Broadway.com. I hope to continue serving it up there for a long time to come.  There's SO MUCH TO DRAW!  Yay theatre!

Squigs Update: Illumination!

As the co-creator of The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ which are collected by many young (and young-at-heart) Broadway fans AND young Broadway actors, I was often getting requests for folks to have their own card. Now, while so many deserve to be celebrated, we want to keep a firm rein on the content of our card rosters. But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate folks in another way. Thus, The Lights of Broadway Show Prints were born. They're portraits in the style of the cards with the same design elements, but printed suitable for framing at 11"x14". I'm so grateful to those who have entrusted me with illuminating and celebrating special folks. Here are a few of them so far:

Cole Alex Edelstein in Matilda.

Cole Alex Edelstein in Matilda.

Talia & MiMi Ryder in Matilda.

Talia & MiMi Ryder in Matilda.


Ian Saraceni in The King & I.

Ian Saraceni in The King & I.

Ian Saraceni in Matilda.

Ian Saraceni in Matilda.


Bradley Barnes & Aaron Pomeroy.

Bradley Barnes & Aaron Pomeroy.

Paul Aguirre.

Paul Aguirre.

So as you can see, the Show Prints are for Broadway fans of all ages. (The base rate for a Show Print that features a head & shoulders portrait of an individual is $350 and for a duo, $450. Additional background details may bring additional charge.) If you'd like to shine a light on that certain star (or stars), contact me here. I'll only be able to take on so many as we head into the holiday season, so you might contact me early to join the list.

Squigs Extra: Faux Graphic Design.

I'm an illustrator. A caricaturist. A cartoonist. A chronic doodler. One thing I don't think of myself as is a graphic designer. For one thing, I'm not nearly as adept as I should be at the tools of the trade, and the rules of the game are a bit more structured than that of drawing pictures. But I dabble and I have a good eye, and when folks don't really know any other graphic designers and they know I'm artistic, I'm the next best choice. And I do my best. And quite honestly, I've been pretty pleased with some of the results lately.

First, here's the logo I created for Folio Group, a coalition of Broadway and Broadway-adjacent small media outlets (including my Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ and the gang I work with, The Happy Hour Guys) that meets monthly to chat and collaborate. [Note: The center graphic there is also used as a widget on social media and group graphics.]


And sometimes a pal asks for a wee logo for his labor of love podcast and you make something akin to graphics you see around NPR and Gimlet and other audio media outlets. Broadway Stories was created by Todd Buonopane who brings together Broadway actor pals to tell stories in live sessions at Theatre District hot spot 54 Below. It's similar to The Moth podcast, but firmly rooted in the Broad-way. The last tweak was a request to include a simple caricature of Todd within the logo. I think it all hit the mark.


And sometimes the work seems to work but ultimately doesn't. I was approached by the Actors' Equity Fund which offers grants and assistance to arts organizations. I provided a number of options, most based on my illustrative style:

I thought the choices were rather dynamic, and I was feeling pretty good about the selection, particularly the bolder options. But as is often the case in situations when the decision lies in the hands of a committee of varying opinions, they chose what I felt was the safest of the bunch.  The last one.  I formatted it in all necessary file formats, and they paid me promptly.  A satisfied client. A satisfied artist.

But alas, once they announced their website and promotional re-launch, someone else's design was there. Ah, well. I'm proud of the work I did. Sometimes you've got to be satisfied with that.


Now, one of the biggest hurdles in bringing The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ to life was the graphic design. While I'm not adept at Adobe Illustrator or InDesign or whatever the graphic folks are using, I knew what I wanted to see; and since the only people to disappoint were myself and incredibly supportive partner Dori, I took a crack at it.  I did a lot of research, and once I had a vision and threw it all together with metaphorical duct tape, I really rather enjoyed the results and the process getting there.  And I continue to do so.

The logo here is consistent throughout all of our products, and the wrapper design below is for our Autumn 2015 edition. For the next edition, coming out in mid-November, I redesigned the card layouts and elements of the wrapper (just like the baseball card companies do each year).


So I guess the lesson here is that sometimes a little hop outside of your comfort zone can result in something pretty nifty. Adventure, Barnaby! (That's a Hello, Dolly! reference. Anyhoo...)

Squigs Update: Unification!

I wish I stood up a bit more for what I believe in: Thinking more in the "we" as opposed to the "us vs. them." Equality. Inclusion. Love and kindness. But as a lifelong "people pleaser" I don't want to rock the boat. And then sometimes lives hang in the balance and we have to talk about it. And we have to do something.

In the wake of another and another and yet another in the wave of disproportionate black deaths at the hands of police, I felt helpless. My family has direct ties to law enforcement. Heck, Grandma was a county deputy sheriff. I've heard first-hand how tough and dangerous the job is. But when we look at the statistics, we can't deny that across the country, the system is out of whack, the problem is deep-seated, and it needs to get fixed.

About the time I was feeling the most helpless, some of my friends in the Broadway community were feeling the same way, many of which are black and have more at stake in this than I can truly comprehend. And they did something. They began to talk and they began to act. A small group (including my pal Amber Iman) put together an evening to raise awareness and open a dialog called Broadway for Black Lives Matter. I offered to help with design, which wasn't needed since they had a fantastic person lined up, but they enthusiastically made me feel like a part of the event as an observer and student.  In the weeks after the event, I created this illustration, commemorating the event and those who spoke and sang and danced and taught.  It's the bare minimum I could offer, but I look forward to keeping my eyes, ears, and heart open to this effort and learning how to stand with my black brethren and sistren for open dialog and change. In a world that feels more "us vs. them" every day, I stand and move forward with "we."

So, back to these wonderful folks who created this wonderful evening of enlightenment. They have steered this momentum into the creation of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, combining art and activism and opening the dialog even further. Learn more about them here.

Broadway for Black Lives Matter, August 1, 2016.

Broadway for Black Lives Matter, August 1, 2016.

Oh, and while I'm at my own little podium, I'm voting for Hillary Clinton and I hope you do too. The alternative is unconscionable. Period.

Respectfully yours,
Squigs.

Squigs Update: Commemoration!

Bit by bit,
Putting it together...
Piece by piece,
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.

The late summer and early autumn found me toiling away at the next edition of Lights of Broadway cards, but I also kept myself busy by taking on a number of commissions, commemorating productions of various types. I've not posted much about these jobs, though, and I'd like to show you a bit of what I've pieced together:

Broadway on the High Seas 6: Christine Ebersole, Liz Callaway, John McDaniel, Tony Yazbeck, Laura Osnes, Karen Mason, Christine Pedi, Bryan Batt, Mark Linn Baker, and Lewis Black.

Broadway on the High Seas 6: Christine Ebersole, Liz Callaway, John McDaniel, Tony Yazbeck, Laura Osnes, Karen Mason, Christine Pedi, Bryan Batt, Mark Linn Baker, and Lewis Black.

Broadway on the High Seas 7: Chita Rivera, Faith Prince, Seth Rudetsky, Charles Busch, Jennifer Simard, Laura Osnes, Lilla Crawford, Kate Baldwin, Brenda Braxton, Adam Pascal, Lindsay Mendez, Andréa Burns, and Douglas Carter Beane.

Broadway on the High Seas 7: Chita Rivera, Faith Prince, Seth Rudetsky, Charles Busch, Jennifer Simard, Laura Osnes, Lilla Crawford, Kate Baldwin, Brenda Braxton, Adam Pascal, Lindsay Mendez, Andréa Burns, and Douglas Carter Beane.

The fine folks from Playbill asked me to commemorate their guest lineups for two outings of their Broadway cruise, Broadway on the High Seas.  These images were printed for passengers to get signed by the fabulous talent.


Ragtime on Ellis Island.

Ragtime on Ellis Island.

Director Sammi Cannold asked me to put together this illustration to thank the folks who made this electrically-charged evening happen. The Great Hall on immigrant gateway Ellis Island provided the stage for this powerful concert version of the legendary American musical. Pictured here are Brian Stokes Mitchell, Aisha Jackson, Brandon Victor Dixon, Andy Mientus, Robert Petkoff, Shaina Taub, Laura Michelle Kelly, and Michael Park. Attire was imagined by yours truly. Not necessarily accurate to the concert, but festive.


Little Shop of Horrors, Australian tour.

Little Shop of Horrors, Australian tour.

The Sycamore Pictures film of Stephen Karam's Speech & Debate.

The Sycamore Pictures film of Stephen Karam's Speech & Debate.

A couple more fantastic commissions: First, David and Lisa Campbell approached me to commemorate the wonderful touring production of Little Shop of Horrors they produced. I had admired David's vocal artistry since the 1990s which made it super nifty when his wife Lisa contacted me to create a family illustration for David's 40th birthday. This happy "mean, green" commission followed. Next, Tom Rice of Sycamore Pictures reached out to me to create this illustration of Speech & Debate. The film is currently navigating the labyrinth of finding its way to distribution, and this piece is meant to help the effort. It's a lovely film and should be on its way to audiences next year.


So, as you can see, I do my best to maintain a robust studio schedule. I'm excited to show you more of the fruits of my labor over the next few days. Keep an eye peeled! And if you're interested in chatting about a commission for yourself, please do drop me a line! (And I can draw you a line. See what I did there?)

Squigs in the Provinces: The Music Man

I'm happy and grateful to say that I've had the opportunity to get back onstage! I Shipoopied back into Marcellus' shoes in The Music Man at the historic Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts. More on the Cape Playhouse later.  In the mean time, here is my traditional sketch I presented the cast and crew on closing night.

The Music Man at The Cape Playhouse, starring Jim Clow, Kaitlyn Davidson, Brad Bellamy, Barbara Tirrell, and Squigs.

The Music Man at The Cape Playhouse, starring Jim Clow, Kaitlyn Davidson, Brad Bellamy, Barbara Tirrell, and Squigs.

This was a wonderful group of folks with whom to push through the challenges of a large show in a small (albeit charming and historic) playhouse. The audiences were fantastic! We enjoyed our showcation on Cape Cod.

And looking to the future, I look forward to concentrating my efforts on showing off some more work here on the blog. So much of what I'd love to cover falls between the cracks of what I'm assigned to do for Broadway.com.  I'd love to show you even more.  Here we go!

He's back: Tonys 2016 and more!

Yes, it's been a long time since my last exciting post, but that is about to change. I am resolving to make this blog more of a destination. More frequent posts and lots of good stuff to look at. To begin with, I'd like to show a few of the rough bits that led to my sketch celebrating the 2016 Tony Awards:

Instagram posts of real time rough sketching.

Instagram posts of real time rough sketching.

Throughout the evening, as I watched the ceremonies at my friends' place, I'd post rough sketches whenever I felt I had something folks might want to see. In real time. It was a fun exercise. And I loved the proceedings! James Corden was a fantastic host, and the entire Broadway community really came together in the face of that morning's devastating mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Love and unity. I hope my final illustration showed this. It featured the acting winners, Corden, and big winner of the night Lin-Manuel Miranda. And ghosted in the background you can find the winning plays and musicals represented as well as some of the celebs who took the stage. I e-mailed the final piece to the Broadway.com offices just 18 hours after the show concluded:

The 2016 Tony Awards.

The 2016 Tony Awards.

Selling like Broadway hotcakes!

I know, I know! I've been delinquent about posting here, but I've been super busy. And it's been for a good reason. We have launched the Autumn 2015 edition of THE LIGHTS OF BROADWAY SHOW CARDS™ in NYC stores and online! Click here to peek in the shop!

Broadway kids' trading party!

Broadway kids' trading party!

We held a trading party and invited kids who are in many of the shows on Broadway (and their parents/guardians). We gave them sugar and free cards and let them go trade. It was like Shark Week and the cards were the bait! Seriously, we were so overjoyed at the enthusiasm of our young friends. And that was a great precursor to the reception the cards continued to get as we released them in our Broadway Theatre District stores (Theatre Circle on 44th St. and One Shubert Alley in Shubert Alley). There have been trading gatherings throughout Midtown and transactions through the mail.

And then, just yesterday, we finally raised the curtain on our online shop. Let's just say that I have a lot of envelopes to stuff with shiny packs of Broadway trading cards! And we're very encouraged that our little project has such appeal across the country. It gives us such inspiration to keep going and to make the cards even better. Yay Broadway!!

A screen capture of our online shop in action.

A screen capture of our online shop in action.

So that's what's up. After I fill all these orders, I've got to hunker down with my collaborator to talk about what's next. We hope to break even on these early phases of the venture, because then we have next edition to plan as well as well as some special stuff for some special things that will be coming some special time soon!  Wahoooo!

Enthusiastic collectors!

Enthusiastic collectors!

Brightness at the Broadway Flea Market!

The 2015 Broadway Flea Market!

The 2015 Broadway Flea Market!

Broadway fans of all types just welcomed the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Flea Market and Grand Auction. The September Sunday weather was perfect in the low 70s with brief appearances of sunshine, and those in the Broadway know were out in droves.  It's always a great chance to catch up with pals and meet others who I admire.  I was so happy to get a visit from a college friend and her husband as well as a cavalcade of dear pallies from here and nearby.

Some of you may know that the Flea Market has huge significance in my journey to NYC and my artistic adventures here, so I was thrilled to be hosting a table for the seventh time.  I brought some recent prints but really raided the archives for some super obscure stuff.  And buttons.  I had amazing assistance from my pal Laura Ware and business partner Dori Berinstein.  The event raised a record-breaking $756,655 by dusk and we were so happy to be a small part of that.

But I've got to tell you what brought me the biggest joy this day...

As I've mentioned in a couple of previous blog entries, I've been toiling away on The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ for a while now, and along with my collaborator Dori have been working on how to make this a viable business and successful venture on a few different fronts (financial, charitable, community-building, etc.).  There have been a couple of logistic challenges which have required patience and more than a little thinking outside the box.  We've had an idea about how the cards would be accepted based on the reaction of friends and family and a few folks who have already begun collecting on their own.  We had no idea.

They like them! They really like them!

They like them! They really like them!

As folks poked around the table early in the day, they seemed intrigued. Curious. We had packs for the going price of $5 per as well as some single cards that we were asking a suggested donation of $5 each for (in the spirit of charity).  They gradually started going to good homes.  And at some point, people started sticking around waiting for others to buy them.  "Hey, did you get a Something Rotten?" "Yes, do you have a Sutton Foster?" A few more people stop by.  There's a small crowd.  "I got a Stephen Sondheim! He's the KING!"  It's flurry of trading activity.  A few collectors dropped by throughout the day with their cards already in binders.  Many had autographed cards.

Dori had planted herself at the card table and made her own supply of single cards available for trading. "Boy, Annaleigh Ashford, Billy Porter, and Christian Borle are popular."  I sign a few title cards.  A small flock of kids from School of Rock swing by and are pulled in as if we had some Broadway tractor beam.  "A Kelli O'Hara! Fun Home!" "Can I have your Fun Home??"  "Oh I got a Matthew Morrison!"  "Would you trade for..."  "NOOOOO!!"  Dori and I caught eyes numerous times and exchanged looks of happy bewilderment at the enthusiasm we were seeing.  A good half dozen we chatted with throughout the day had collected all 75 cards, and a number of others were very close.  Our venture was being welcomed with open arms by exactly the right people.

I'm doing my best to express my gratitude to those who bought (especially since the buying benefited a great cause) and traded and expressed their delight and offered suggestions.  My heart was full.  I got misty-eyed often but tried to keep a stiff upper lip.  It wasn't until after packing up that I felt the full emotional impact of the day and had a few good happy cries.  This thing might just work! This thing that has taken a lot of heart and hopes and planning and toil has even more potential than we had thought.  And I feel so incredibly grateful.

As the sun set on another year's Flea, we anticipated a rare "super harvest blood moon with total lunar eclipse."  A few wacky folks predicted the end of the world.  This wacky person sees it as the beginning of something pretty great.

What a great day!

What a great day!

Shining LIGHTS on the interwebs.

Y'all, I have been working so hard on a fun little project off and on for over three years now, and I'm in the throes of content creation here as the summer wanes.  I've already shown off some of the prototypes of The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™ here and around Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  But we are now unveiling our website.  It's rather bare-bones right now and will pack on some muscle as we get closer to the autumn launch, but the primary reason to visit the page now is to sign up on our newsletter/e-mail blast list.  Please sign up, and you'll be among the very first to know about releases, events, etc.

Here it is folks!  Please sign up to get all the fab information:
The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™!!

Our lovely, breezy home in a whimsical corner of the interwebs.

Our lovely, breezy home in a whimsical corner of the interwebs.

All the toiling on this project has been tedious but super fun.  I created 76 cards for our preview pack as well as the design of the packaging. I'm currently in the whirlwind of creating and formatting 225+ cards for our autumn launch (63 of which will thankfully look very similar to cards from the preview pack). [UPDATE: We have since decided to feature just 75 cards – all new – in the Autumn 2015 Edition. Coming early November!] I designed and maintain the website as well as the social media accounts. My collaborator, Dori Berinstein, has been just as busy at this (along with developing numerous projects for Broadway).  While her contributions are more behind-the-scenes, they are detrimental to how this all will work as a business.  We are working together to make it all happen, and we have so many exciting ideas for the direction of the project.  Can't wait to share them all with you!  In the mean time, sign up at the website to be among the first to get enLIGHTened! See what I did there?

Something's coming.

"When the end is right, it justifies the beans." And the beans have happily been spilled. This coming autumn, my collaborator Dori Berinstein and I will officially launch The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™, trading cards for the show biz set. This idea has been rattling around in our heads for quite a while, and we cranked up the focus and energy over the past year. Caricature illustration has long gone hand-in-hand with celebrating the theatre. I'm taking a big leap and creating another platform with which I can celebrate the art form and honor its practitioners, and I'm so grateful to Dori for leaping with me. We've currently released a sneak preview edition featuring a random selection of 75 cards.  Each pack has six cards and a card explaining some of our ideas.  This is primarily so we have something in hand when we meet with folks we hope to partner with. but we've also decided to test the market a bit and offer some of these packs for sale in the Theatre District. This is why there has been a little buzz and why I'm writing this.

I'm so incredibly excited, but I don't want to spill too many more beans (to avoid beanstalks, I suppose). I'll just say that we're getting great feedback and hatching more ideas every day on how to make this incredible for Broadway fans.  Our website isn't live yet, but you can follow us on Facebook and/or Twitter to get the news as it's released.  Follow follow follow...

On a sunny Sunday in July along 44th Street in NYC.

On a sunny Sunday in July along 44th Street in NYC.

Rehearsal/Sketch: Hamilton.

I'm playing with an illustration concept, using the rough pencil sketching process as a parallel for a show's rehearsal process. My dad used to say that if you wanted to sculpt something, say, a rhino, you simply carve away everything that doesn't look like a rhino. Of course that's often easier said than done, but that's what art is. Honing and focusing an idea or series of them to create something significant. That's what I'm attempting to illustrate here, moving from graphite to ink to digital. My first shot? Hamilton.

Rehearsal/Sketch: Hamilton. ©2015 Justin "Squigs" Robertson.

Rehearsal/Sketch: Hamilton. ©2015 Justin "Squigs" Robertson.

As those in the Broadway know know, Hamilton enjoyed an immensely popular run downtown at the Public Theatre and will be starting previews on Broadway in July (opening officially at the Richard Rodgers on August 6).

In this piece, I wanted to feature the ensemble. In the world that the show's creators have made, the ensemble is so interwoven into the story telling.  Particularly in the choreography created by Andy Blankenbuehler, they are the pulse of the show.  (I was very moved by Blankenbuehler's acceptance speech when he won for his work at the Drama Desk awards this year which you can see here. Art is at its best when it becomes very personal.) And of course, the ensemble folks are working their butts off. Y'all just have to see this show.

So that's something I've been dabbling in.  I think this concept might make a nifty series, beginning early in a show's workshop phase (with a lot of graphite) and ending in previews (with a lot of ink and color). Anyhoo. Ideas.

Squigs Gets Busy.

Squigs Gets Busy. Also known as: "Why Squigs doesn't return phone calls in April." Here's a glimpse into A. the work I've done over this 2014-2015 Broadway season and B. the crazy whirlwind of ink and pixel slingin' April is for me each year as the Broadway shows rush to meet the Tony Awards deadline.

I love what I do! I feel so grateful to be a fly on the wall and witness some brilliant artistry. Come on along and see me do my best to draw it all!

Wall Street Journaling.

I've hit a bit of a milestone today: my first illustration in the Wall Street Journal. And it's a doozy! While it's only in the NYC area papers, it's most of the cover of their special pre-Tony Awards Broadway advertising section.  Here 'tis!

My doodle for the Wall Street Journal. ©2015 Justin "Squigs" Robertson.

My doodle for the Wall Street Journal. ©2015 Justin "Squigs" Robertson.

A photo of the rag on the morning of its release. Thanks Russell!

A photo of the rag on the morning of its release. Thanks Russell!

They wanted a Times Squareish scene, and they wanted me to focus on shows they advertise for, so we included long-runners Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Book of Mormon and new shows An American in Paris, Hand to God, and Something Rotten. They were also planning on featuring A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, so that went in the showbizzy stew as well.

My take on it – as you can see – was to have the characters from the shows popping out of the billboards and interacting. Tyrone is not the kind of puppet Simba is used to seeing, and Elder Cunningham is thinking they must be in Africa. The Bottom Brothers are having it out while the Bard preens and Nostradamus is having a moment with the Genie. Jerry and Lise are dropping in from Paris which adds to the stimuli bombarding Christopher and his rat. Also, Hirschfeld once drew a Times Square scene and included a lone nun. He received many letters explaining that nuns never travel alone. Well, in tribute to one of my heroes, I drew a lone nun. Except this one is passing out fliers. A new Times Square.

It's just a fun melange of the bold and buoyant on the Broadway, and I'm so happy I got the chance to draw it.

 

Getting in line for Al.

As you all know, I am crazy for Al Hirschfeld's work. He is among the artists that really blew my mind as I was diving into my craft. It's such an understatement to say that I still marvel at his line, economy, layout, etc. I'm so incredibly happy to say that there is an absolutely brilliant exhibit of his work (and life) at the New York Historical Society, now through October 12.

The entrance to Hirschfeld land!

The entrance to Hirschfeld land!

I can count on one hand the times I've walked into an exhibit and had the breath taken out of me. As I hit the first room of the exhibit, there was one drawing representing each of the decades in which Al captured Broadway. The 1950s? Guys and Dolls. The 1960s? Fiddler on the Roof. The 1970s? Man of La Mancha. Etcetera. All originals. Sketches I'd only seen in books. This exhibit features frame after frame after frame of original work (and a few lithographs) that I just want to dive into.

Al's original ink sketch of Guys & Dolls (the only of his sketches I deliberately plagiarized when I did the show back in 1995). The Lunts in The Visit.

Al's original ink sketch of Guys & Dolls (the only of his sketches I deliberately plagiarized when I did the show back in 1995). The Lunts in The Visit.

The collection draws from many collections: The Hirschfeld Foundation and archive, The National Portrait Gallery, private collectors, celebrities, and more. My friend Billy Stritch has lent one of his Hirschfeld originals which was very cool to see. There is an original of Carol Channing and George Burns that George had bought for Carol and inscribed it with "Carol, I love you. George."

There are interactive bits to the exhibit. A video, and a barber chair and desk you can sit at and doodle. And at the exit is a series of blown up images from Hirschfeld's oeuvre that represent shows currently running on Broadway.

I felt incredibly honored that David Leopold, curator of the exhibit and Hirschfeld's archivist for many years, invited me to the opening gala of this incredible exhibit. His deep knowledge of Al's work and his kind words about my own doodles have been invaluable to me as I do my best to carry on traditions so exemplified by Al Hirschfeld. There will never be another Al. But I'm so honored that he thinks of me as one of those picking up where he left off. Thank you David!

Billy Stritch and the Hirschfeld from his collection.

Billy Stritch and the Hirschfeld from his collection.

Me and Nina. This is Al's daughter whose name was featured in countless sketches.

Me and Nina. This is Al's daughter whose name was featured in countless sketches.

Me pointing at the man of the hour. Photo credit: Walter McBride for BroadwayWorld.com.

Me pointing at the man of the hour. Photo credit: Walter McBride for BroadwayWorld.com.

Am I a Hirschfeld fan? Why do you ask?

Am I a Hirschfeld fan? Why do you ask?

And as fitting for a world-class exhibit of the work of this world-class artist, there is swag available. Tee shirts, totes, mugs, cocktail napkins, etc. And the big jewel in the crown is the brand new book The Hirschfeld Century, written and curated by my pal David Leopold.  It features many of the pieces in the exhibit and so much more.  And the stories. Oh, the stories! David can spin a yarn, and most of these tales he got directly from the horse's mouth.  I can't recommend this book highly enough if you're a Hirschfeld fan, or just a fan of Broadway or pop culture or politics.

Get to The Hirschfeld Century exhibit at the New York Historical Society on Central Park West.  You'll kick yourself if you miss it. Seriously. Click HERE for more info.

Ask if it's Equity!

Some of you might remember the book cover I drew for the Actors' Equity Association's centennial coffee table book. Well, they've had me back for another collaboration. I've contributed illustrations to the new Actors' Equity Association campaign called "Ask If It's Equity" which is a resource for those around the country wondering if the "direct from Broadway" shows they're paying to see are using actors and stage managers supported by AEA as they are in Broadway productions.

The head of the splash page.

The head of the splash page.

Presenters of non-union tours are typically charging theater-goers the same amount for tickets while cutting costs in the field of onstage artists, and without the requirements of the protection and benefits these artists can receive as members of Equity.  This resource simply simply allows the theater-going public to know which is which without having to dig through the sometimes deceptive publicity.

Anyhoo. My doodles are used here and in various banner ads and other promotional graphics around the land of the interwebs. I love how they credit my work:

Justin Robertson, AEA member since 2004.

Justin Robertson, AEA member since 2004.