There are few things in this life that I find more exciting than being set free on the streets of a new place, to delight in everything looking strange and different. Viewing the world with such freshness is not a habit of my daily life here in Melbourne. Whilst I might pause to notice the latte art on my coffee occasionally… most of the time my mind is in business mode.
Earlier this month, however, I was thrilled to visit a place of total visual overload, where you can’t help but notice that the coffee looks completely different – New York City! Landing in the dark on the night before Halloween, the bright lights were just as I’d heard they’d be, with the added orange glow of jack-o-lanterns.
Aside from eating my weight in smoked salmon bagels, the purpose of my visit to New York was to attend the big launch of the new iPad Pro, a tool I have been using in my illustration work for the last year (and have fallen rather in love with.)
Teaching weekly classes in digital drawing at Lamington Drive has allowed me to expand my own practice, and explore the parameters of this new medium, as it gets taken up by more and more creatives. As a graphic designer, creating images with pixels is a natural progression from pen and paper – drawing, as we’ve known it, is really evolving!
When I travel, I do use pen and paper, following in the tradition of a long history of travel-journal-keepers in my family. I collect all menus, tickets, postcards; note down foreign customs, and draw the food I eat, as well as fashion and art. I do this now more than ever; I’ll bring my travel journal to aperitivo in bars, parks, galleries, beaches. On this particular trip, though, I used the iPad Pro to bring some of my rather rough travel journal observations into colour!
The action, the colours, the dragons, the signage, the fruit and vegetables, the chopsticks, the look on the face of a cat at the fish shop… it’s all here.
‘Next door’, you’ll find a small ‘slice’ of Italia. It’s true that I consumed more pizza on this trip than I did when I visited pizza’s birthplace: Napoli… not to mention all the cannoli, spaghetti, and salami devoured on red-chequered tablecloths across NYC.
For pizza in particular I tried a bunch of places I’d read about: Best Pizza, Lucali, Roberta’s and Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, and then Scarr’s on the Lower East Side. Thin crust, homemade mozzarella, fresh basil – It was all great.
The Mandarin Duck In Central Park
This one came from a great story that I overheard being told to another tourist on a park bench and then Googled to verify before trekking through autumn leaves to see the real thing. A truly spectacular East Asian Mandarin Duck appeared amongst all the other brown ones in a Central Park pond – entertaining the public and at the same time mystifying bird watchers who had flocked to see it!
Bagels, Pickles, Lox
I know you can get a bread roll with a hole in it here, but it’s nothing like a New York Bagel and it certainly is not stuffed to the brim with that much salmon lox.
For top-notch bagels, I was repeatedly told by locals and tourists to go to Russ & Daughters. They did a damn good one! I also visited a really amazing Jewish deli called Zabar’s, on the other side of town (Broadway) – more smoked salmon there than I’ve ever seen in my life.
Hot Dog Stands
… and street carts in general. I’m not sure that the food is as great as the signage.
I understand that, in a city known for its bright lights, you need to stand out, but the creativity of the New York neons is next level! I attracted many strange looks as I stopped to admire and photograph this fine art of the street.
Museum fatigue takes on a whole new level in NYC. In case the art (old, new, important, expensive) wasn’t enough, you also have to stop to admire the museums themselves (I’m looking at you, Guggenheim).
See more of Alice Oehr’s work on her website or @aliceoehr. You can also find our about her weekly classes in digital drawing at Lamington Drive here.