Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Level of Engagement

6/8/20 Suhita, Gabi and Rob chat on the USk Talks video program.

“You’re drawing that? Wouldn’t it be faster to take a photo?”

Every now and then when I’m out sketching, I’ll hear that question. Once someone thought I was drawing because I didn’t have a smartphone and helpfully offered to lend me his. I usually acknowledge these comments in some way, but I don’t bother to engage in a discussion.

Although I think a lot about why the act of drawing is as different from snapping a photo on my phone as anything I can think of, it’s not a conversation I want to have with a stranger on the street, especially if he has interrupted me with such a helpful suggestion. If I have to explain, it’s probably not a concept he’s going to grasp after 30 seconds of conversation.

Last week on the USk Talks live chat, Gabi Campanario talked to host Rob Sketcherman about sketching and how it fits in with Gabi’s role as a journalist. How is sketch journalism (Gabi’s Seattle Times column) different from more traditional forms of journalism (usually accompanied by photos or video), Rob asked. Here is Gabi’s response:
“You can tell the same story. . . with photographs . . . radio . . . or film documentary. What makes drawing different is how the audience is going to connect with the story. And the beauty of drawing is that a sketch evokes a scene that the viewer has to complete with their imagination. So there’s a level of engagement that is perhaps a little more emotional than if you’re watching a movie or a photograph. Also a sketch is very personal. Nobody else can do the same sketch like you. But a lot of people can take a photo that is very similar.”
 Yes, it would be much faster to take a photo.

(To hear the inspiring video chat, which also includes Suhita Shirodkar, see the recorded version on YouTube.)

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