It will be a while till you will start seeing them at subway stations in New York, but I just got my copy of the MTA poster and got excited, so I wanted to share it with you a bit early.
MTA Arts For Transit usually commission around 3 artists a year to create posters. Posters are usually posted around NYC area subway and train stations and stay there for a few month.
I (and often my dog) take subway down to my studio from my home every day. It is very much a part of my life. (always buy 30 day unlimited pass!) So, it was obviously very exciting I was chosen as one of the three for 2011.
The challenge was that the audience is “everyone who uses MTA subways, busses and trains”. It is easier to come up with ideas when the audience is narrow and targeted. To make something that is ‘for everyone’ is so broad, I was at first a bit lost.
Then soon, I organized my idea and decided to work with something that relates strongly to my personal experiences.
I decided that the best way to come up with ideas for sketches was to actually go there and walk around. I took many pictures, most of them from the kids’ height, to get the sense of how this place look for children.
As a kid, I lived in a New York suburb for 4 years. My father, who had a job in an office in Pan Am Building (now Met Life Building) which is directly connected with escalators from Grand Central Terminal, commuted on Metro North commuter railroad every day.
Once in a while, my parents took me and my sister to come visit Manhattan on the same train. I clearly remember arriving at Grand Central for the first time, walking into then very dirty but still very stunning main concourse and looking up at a huge ceiling of stars and my jaw just dropped.
It was 1977. Grand Central was beautiful, but dingy. My mother told me to always stay with her while walking through the concourse, and never to use public bathrooms at the station. A lot of the store fronts were closed. There were a few that sold cheap coffee or egg roles. I liked them as a kid. I still think about the egg role treat we ate on the train on the way back to our home in Westchester, and kind of miss it.
Now, I walk into all the fun stores that sell everything from gourmet food to fancy gifts, and I use their clean bathroom. Restored ceiling is bright and shining in my favorite color: teal. But every time I walk back into Grand Central Terminal, I feel like I become the kid in 1977 again.
By the way, the Asian girl on the top of the illustration is me. Of course, me when I was younger.
If you are interested, you can own this poster, and the proeeds help to maintain the Transit Museum.
Big thank you to Amy Hausmann and Lydia Bradshaw of Arts for Transit.
the accepted sketch is on the right. All my sketches usually starts from very loose composition roughs, like one on the left.
two other variation sketches submitted. On the left is the most ‘adult’ looking piece with no people. On the right is a kid looking up and imagining, as all the busy people walk her by. the banner on these sketches are dummy I just took from a previously published poster, just to give a sense of what it would feel like with the complete poster look.
Final poster image.
My friend Ai-chan posing with hot off the press poster. Yes, it is HUGE! Although it does not look that way when you see it at stations near you.