Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sketchbook: Fifty Three Shoppers

(Above: one of my sketches. Yes, the kid really had a shirt like that. No, he wasn't that awesome.)

I visited family last month. One of the activities, in addition to eating well and having good conversation, was, of course, shopping. It's the American pastime. Now, shopping is OK by me, but after a while, I tend to get tired. When I do, I just find a corner, take out my sketchbook (the unobtrusive small one) and start drawing people that are in the store. This is all good research for a cartoonist.

I couldn't help think about Miyazaki's quote that the problem with the people making anime/comics today is that

"… people in the industry 'don't spend time watching real people' and can be characterized as 'humans who can't stand looking at other humans.'" -- The Escapist

Basing your drawing and your writing on real life is essential for compelling, grounded storytelling.  And it all starts with observing real people in their natural environments. And, in the US of A, that means in the malls and shops!

Here's a small sample of sketches I drew in February and March. On some of them, I added a bit of wash. The originals were drawn with a Pigma Micron .08 on 3.5 inch by 5 inch 50 lb. Strathmore Sketch paper, so, if you're looking at this on a desktop or laptop screen, the drawings are larger than the originals. They were drawn in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire and Maine.

Yes, this woman really did have a name above each breast:

A serious look on this fellow below who, so far as I could tell, left his dentures at home:

Magnificent "mountain man" guy who wandered around, and finally sat next to me as I finished this drawing. He took out a book and began reading. Soon after, he was making snorty noises. I could not tell if it was due to a respiratory issue or reaction to the text. I got away without him seeing that I was drawing him. Phew!

A simple drawing of a woman poised to shop. Look at her: arched forward. Nothing will get in her way today. I love that her hair was way up on her head.

Here you can see a bit of the top of the pad for scale. It's 3.5" across. I love this hipster dude and his fishing hat, with the thick mane of hair flowing out of his cap.

The fellow below was a manager. Scary dude:

A large, sad woman who roamed the aisles, looking and looking, picking things up and putting them back down again. Wandering the aisles like Hamlet's ghost ….

The guy's hat looked like something out of a Disney movie -- real gnome-like:

Seriously looking thru the DVDs.

A woman with big eyes clutches her purchase. She looked a bit mad.

The chinless checkout girl with serious hair architecture:

Just emphasizing one part of the person can suggest a lot more.

A man, lost in the store, looking for his people:

This dude is just jazzed to be here:

This woman made a sad, pensive face as she looked through blouses:

A man seriously contemplates the purchase of a bowl:

A manager-type guy with an Amish-style beard:

Sometimes I am told we (the shoppers in the family and me) are all leaving and I have a few seconds to get an impression. Here's a sample of the opposite body types attract rule:

The woman below was all decked out in a nice black vinyl pants and blazer and big Christian cross earrings:

A guy eats alone at table #14 while checking his phone:

A mall janitor and some of his friends:

The bluetooth fellow below really did have these odd, large pants -- like pantaloons. He walked like they were cool, so I guess they were:

Below: another happy dude. He looks a little like Stan Lee with a cap on:

Tall drink o' water with his cell:

Very dressed up and thoughtfully shopping:

I drew this girl because of her polka dot shorts, black stockings and hairy boots. Whatta combo!

Another very grim shopper with a lined face, but lovely black hair:

Sad man contemplates a tie:

A large man obscures the sale sign:

There are hundreds of guys who look like this:

Below, a woman who was following the same route that day. I saw her in several of the same stores we were in:

Very elderly woman who had an entourage of family around her. She never spoke and never looked up, but she could guide the cart just fine, thank you very much:

So many people seemed way too concerned about shopping than they should be:

The fellow below was the owner of a thrift store in Maryland:

Easygoing guy:

I saw this guy go in and out of the store within 90 seconds. He wore a one-piece work suit, like Ralph Kramden wore. He bought a little electric teapot.

The mother and daughter came in, poked around for 15 minutes, and the girl emerged with the Chinese hat on.

And here's a friend of that thrift shop owner, who talked a lot.

No shoes, no service!!!!

The outfit of loosely fitting cotton tops and pants seem to be what a lot of women wear to shop:

Not happy to be here:

Cool guy with cool hair incessantly checks phone:

The tragedy of not buying:

Cute kid that was with a bunch of older women. He never said anything, they just took him by his hand and led him around.

Nervous shopper:

Woman walking by with pizza.

Two teens NOT going into the store because "you gotta be at least 18 years old."

Below, another guy who was doing the same route. I saw him and his big caddy several times:

Everyone checks themselves out in the store windows:

The woman below looked like she was shopping for an army:

Again, the dressing for comfort hoodie and sweat pants:
Thanks for letting me share these. 


Brian Moore said...

Great sketches Mike. Shopping is Serious Business.

Isabel Freeman said...

The "chinless checkout girl" got a guffaw from me. Great obsevational work! Ahhh shopping malls in the USA.

Josh Bowron said...

WOnderful! I would like to purchase the electric teapot guy sketch, seriously.

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks for the kind words. Want to buy one? Send me an email at A couple are already gone.

Trade Loeffler said...

Awesome work, Mike. You're catching some incredible details. How much time would you guess you're spending on each sketch?

Mike Lynch said...

Trade, I wish I had a simple answer for you. Some I did in a few seconds, others maybe a minute or 2. Not long, and I purposefully did not want any sketch to be over thought or over-rendered.