The streets of New York City are populated with an amazing variety of beautiful and fashionable people who in turn inspire generation after generation of the artists who find themselves here to capture them. If you’re lucky, you will have had the chance to run across one such artist equipped simply for this purpose with little more than a pencil and a piece of paper, Richard Haines. We’ve followed Richard’s work here in the past and we were excited when we heard that he was gearing up for a second show on June 17th at John Bartlett, this time featuring a series of erotic drawings in his signature style. We caught up with Richard before the opening of his new show to find out what’s been happening is his world of effortlessly chic (and sometimes nude) boys, immortalized on paper.
It’s been almost a year now since we caught up with you at your last show at Envoy and it looks like you’ve been a busy guy since then, both with collaborations and personal work. Tell us a little more about what’s been on your plate lately.
“Yeah, it’s been an incredibly busy year. I’ve had my work at Barneys, gotten amazing press and support, and started doing work for a catalogue called ‘Pennyblack‘-owned by Max Mara. Their concept is to use bloggers, so I’ve been working along side Scott Schuman or ‘The Sartarolist’ and Todd Selby-those guys are uber-bloggers to me, so it’s been exciting to be in their company. In February, Pennyblack sponsored a show of my work at their store in Milan-it’s been a great opportunity to grow and have a whole new world see my work.”
With the proliferation of digital media, and especially the ubiquity of cameras, drawing might seem at first an unlikely choice for capturing street fashion. What is it about the medium of hand-drawn illustration that inspires you as an artist?
“I think that, exactly because of the proliferation of digital media and cameras, that drawing is the perfect medium for fashion. I love the immediacy and intimacy that a sketch gives. And I think because so much is digital now, people respond to the looseness and hand drawn feel of a sketch. It’s kind of ‘anti-computer.’ and I love how a quick line on a sheet of paper can capture a moment, in a different way that a camera does.”
Your last show was a mix of street fashion and more intimate sketches of individuals and couples partially or fully unclothed. Is this current show an extension of the latter half?
“Yeah, definitely an extension. In the last show I was starting to capture guys in various states of undress-usually in underwear. This takes it one step further, or as far as it can go, as most of the guys are nude. I wanted to show something different from what I showed at Envoy, so erotica and nudes made sense.”
What’s the biggest difference for you between doing the street fashion sketches and the erotic drawings, except for the obvious lack of clothing?
“I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used to drawing people clothed, but drawing guys naked was a challenge at first-it’s rethinking shape and composition. And in the same way I naturally sketch guys as being tall and lean, I kept making the cocks really huge-it’s just how I see life ;)”
I imagine that, with your popularity, you often have guys contacting you to pose for sketches. How often were they knocking down your door and how often were you chasing them down for this latest project?
“I’ve met so many great – and attractive – people since I started the blog, that I’m always kind of building a Rolodex of people that I want to sketch. Since I moved to Brooklyn last year, I’ve gotten to know a whole group of guys who live in Bushwick. This show is inspired and in honor of them. I love their kind of scruffy sexiness. It’s a mix of hippie, radical fairie and cockette. With a touch of irony.”
For a limited time last year, you offered your talents for commissioned illustrations. Is there a chance that readers wishing to be immortalized in a Richard Haines sketch might have that opportunity again after this show?
“Yeah, I just posted that I was doing a ‘father’s day special’ – black and white portraits for $50 -so it’s back on. It’s really fun doing it. People either send photos or come to my studio to get sketched. What was really amazing was that across the board the people I sketched were fantastic. From students to business men, they were smart, engaging, funny. And I loved getting to hear their story as I sketched them.”
One of the things that I love about your drawings is how they don’t always end up being on plain drawing paper. For instance, at your last show there were illustrations on torn out pages of old books, and I’ve seen variations on that theme on your website. Is there a rhyme or reason to the choice of paper?
“I love the way ‘found paper’ changes the composition and context of a drawing. I started it out of necessity-if I was out running around and ran out of paper I just started to grab anything to draw on and people loved it. I think it brings them closer to the experience and the moment the sketch happens. When I was putting together work for the Envoy show, I felt that everything was starting to look the same on white, so I grabbed a few old books and started sketching on the pages – one of those last minute things that worked out.”
Let’s say someone was hoping to have the honor of being sketched in their most chic, urban outfit, what should they know about your favorite New York City haunts?
“Ironically, probably one of my biggest sources of inspiration is the JMZ line, and the L train. And I love going to parties like ‘ghetto gothic’ and ‘blavk america’. I would have to warn them that my idea of chic isn’t necessarily the newest or most expensive. I get much more turned on by swagger, imagination, humor, and the way a person holds themselves.”
And just one last question before we finish… is there a chance that we might see a book of your illustrations sometime soon in the future?
“Dying to do a book – or a series of books – based on ‘what I saw today’ in different cities. Book agents, if you’re out there, please contact me – at the least you’ll walk away with a portrait!”
The show, The Line Exposed , runs June 17, 7:00 to 9:00 pm at John Bartlett, 143 Seventh Avenue South, at Charles Street.