Inquisitive, investigating, scrutinising and entertaining... Rachel Broady looks at the re-emergence of illustrated reportage


odern journalism means videos, infographics, podcasts and pictures but an old form is regaining popularity amid the multimedia- illustrated reportage. Drawing news is not new but it does appear

to be having a moment. The format has its roots in Victorian journalism and sees artists drawing news events in situ, which can stand alone or be supported by interviews with the people depicted in the artwork. The Illustrated London News, founded in the mid-1800s, is an early example of the journalistic use of drawings, where artists reported from the front line. As readers, we are familiar with the legal restrictions that mean court reports are illustrated with sketches. Today, the work of artists reporting from war zones, protests, exhibitions, gigs and most other places journalists can be found is published in graphic books, magazines and newspapers. Arguably, emerging illustrated reportage is finding a place

in increasingly screen-based media and benefiting from the growth in visual literacy. It is not easy, though, to tell if this place is permanent and could create work. For artist David Ziggy Greene, outlets include Private Eye,

Charlie Hebdo and Time Out. Greene is the artist behind Scene and Heard, a regular feature in Private Eye. He has covered subjects from knife crime to abortion rights and homelessness, as well as lighter news around taxidermy, beer festivals and conker championships, and he has also produced gig reviews. He works by eavesdropping or by conducting pre-planned or spontaneous interviews and his reports, which are drawn with pencils or marker pens, can take anything from four hours to four days to produce. For Greene, illustrated reportage is a form of journalism if

people want it to be and if it informs them of news and events. He says: “One hitch is that memes and online culture need

to be very quick to hold people’s attention but relaying topical news stories takes a little more time to be done well. If

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we have a whole newspaper now that just used illustrated journalism, then that would be amazing. That would boost careers and catch the attention.” For fellow artist Gary Embury, a lecturer in illustration at the University of West England and author of Reportage Illustrated Journalism, the modern media landscape gives rise to new opportunities for the illustrator who is interested in reporting on the real world.

French connections and taking risks

I’VE NEVER studied or trained in art or illustration other than basic secondary school art class. I drew as a kid until my late teens, writes David Ziggy Greene. I started casually drawing

again when I was doing live visual performances with bands. On one tour around the UK, I started keeping a visual diary. Eventually, I put it together as a comic book and people liked it. I was disillusioned with

making comics and drawing in the UK as my style wasn’t finding much of an audience. My style was very ‘European’, I was often told. So I aimed my work at the

French, who took to it more than the British. Through a series of fortunate events, I got to know the cartoonists and editors at Charlie Hebdo. One day, Charlie wanted a

report on the student occupations in universities that were a response to the coalition’s decision to raise tuition fees. Charlie asked if I could go and draw a report the next day. I had no idea how but said yes anyway. That report led to others.

I was doing a report for the French every few months. One day, I thought: “Hey, no one does this kind of stuff here in the UK – wonder if it is worth a shot?” I popped off

an email to Private Eye with some of my French reports and Ian Hislop agreed it was worth a go. Ian took the risk so I think most of the credit that Scene & Heard exists is often down to a good editor breaking the norm.


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