In early 2000’s I lived in New York in the East Village. My 10th street apartment saw many parties, as have many apartments around NYC at that moment, where we floated from one feast to the next. It was a nice neighborly feeling between everyone involved, where all were welcome, and usually at least in my case I did not know half of the people who showed up at my door. One of my good friends was Portuguese, which meant that at the parties both at my apartment and elsewhere, I got to know the Portuguese creative community, mostly from Lisbon, who seemed to have dominated the area at the time. This is how I met Jorge Colombo. Jorge is an illustrator, who is now known for his work with the New Yorker and many publications beyond.
Jorge was my neighbour, and lived around the corner. I often ran into him on the street with a sketchbook on hand (this was before he started playing with smart devices) drawing people. He was one of those illustrators who drew anywhere and everywhere: I remember Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello used to DJ at a club near by, and Jorge would go there just to sketch the madness. These were pretty impressive drawing, with devilish undertones, that I think reflected well the ambience.
I worked at some start-up doing design at the time, only drawing when I had time – and Jorge once looked me at said: you should just do what you really want. It took sometime for these words to hit home.
However I am here to talk about his work: Jorge worked with watercolor, his illustrations were immaculately drawn, with a very clean style. Only later did I appreciate the skill, and how fantastic his complicated architectural compositions were.
It was during this time that he was in the middle of his side project ‘The dailies’. This has of course been done so many times since, but at the time this was a really nice and unique project. He simply drew people on the streets of NYC every day, one a day, in his detailed clean style. There was certainly enough material to feed the project in NYC, with its diverse fashion and cultural scene.
I also remember his drawings in post September 11 2001 New York, when the city was mayhem, and fireman were heros of the day – they often appeared in Jorge’s drawing marking what was happening.
I think the dailies project went on for some time, beyond my living in New York. This collection of drawings eventually was exhibited or perhaps even published (?).
My favorite part was Jorge’s story of how he started out in Illustration. The creative community in Lisbon seemed to me have been connected by some invisible string, where everyone knew everyone. So Jorge was friends with who is now a known figure in cinema – Maria de Medeiros, whose mother was an illustrator. Jorge who I think was still in his teens at the time drew a postcard, and sent it to the illustrator mom, who then gave him his first job. (I hope I am not skewing the story too much, as this was some years ago that I heard it, so if someone reading this has a correction, please come forward).
I think it’s a nice story however, wouldn’t it be great if illustration world these days worked just as simply?
** all images are property of the artist