This Week in Instagram

With the sudden explosion of users on Instagram, I’ve decided to start a new feature called “This Week in Instagram”. The idea is to spotlight some of the awesome subway art getting posted there. If you dabble with the ‘gram, take this opportunity to discover/follow some super cool artists and photographers!


Many more after the jump! Continue reading “This Week in Instagram”

The Artist’s Commute – Peter Bulow

Sketching people on the subway shouldn’t be a foreign idea to readers of Subway Art Blog. Artist and psychiatrist Peter Bulow takes this concept to the next level. Dr. Bulow makes clay sculptures based on people he sees on his commute.

In an interview with NY1, he describes his experiences sculpting on the subway:

It’s thrilling. I feel like I’m connecting with people somehow, but also really calm within myself,” says Bulow. “It takes a lot of concentration. You have to get their expression, it has to be beautiful, it has to look like them. It has to be three-dimensional all the way around, has to be a composition. You have to do all that in a minute or five minutes or whatever you have. It’s like riding a roller coaster. You have something forever, of a person you once saw.

To date, Dr. Bulow has created over 400 of these mini portraits. A small selection of these works are being shown at Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan through June 30th.

Images via

Bending Sounds by Tim Sessler

This beautiful, eerie video is making its way around the NYC blogosphere today. Freelance filmmaker Tim Sessler sways and swerves his camera through the subway, floating the viewer through space like a ghost. The ambient sounds of the subway are familiar, yet dream-like, magnifying the haunting quality of this video. Also, since when is the subway lit so beautifully? Bravo Mr. Sessler, you are a magician!

Gothamist – A Beautifully Creepy Video Of The NYC Subway System

Flashback Friday: John Conn

Throughout the Subway’s history there have photographers whose work incomparably embodies the spirit of New York City at a given time. One such photographer was John Conn.

While working as a freelance photographer in the late 1970s Conn captured a unique part of New York’s history. His iconic black and white photos depict an underground covered in graffiti and plagued by crime. Because of their artistic and historic significance, the series has become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

Black Book: NOXER x DAM GIRL

I originally met NOXER and DAM GIRL through another member of the NYC graff crew DOD (Department of Defense). The crew’s refined style comes from decades of experience in the game. NOXER alone has been writing graffiti for a total of 23 years. He is probably most well known for his appearance in the bombing documentary, State Your Name.

More DOD after the jump. Continue reading “Black Book: NOXER x DAM GIRL”

Black Book: OPTIMO NYC

Today I’m experimenting with a new feature i’m calling Black Book. For each entry in this series, I’ll show another page in my own book of graffiti signatures and talk a little about the artist. For the first, I’d like to talk about NYC graffiti writer OPTIMO aka WERDS aka NO SLEEP.

OPTIMO’s distinctive top hat character can be found on walls all throughout NYC. I caught up with him during Art Basel week festivities in Miami, where he hit the Wynwood walls hard. He’s also made with a name for himself with several shows in the New York area at venues like Revolution Studios, Brooklyn Fireproof and Culture Fix. OPTIMO’s latest show opens tomorrow, February 15th at Diva in SOHO. Check out this flier for the details!

More work after the jump! Continue reading “Black Book: OPTIMO NYC”

Subway Artist Profile: Richard Estes

Richard Estes, The L Train, 2009

From Wikipedia

Richard Estes is an American artist, best known for his photorealist paintings. The paintings generally consist of reflective, clean, and inanimate city and geometric landscapes. He is regarded as one of the founders of the international photo-realist movement of the late 1960s, with such painters as Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, and Duane Hanson. Author Graham Thompson wrote, “One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is also called super-realism or hyper-realism and painters like Richard Estes, Denis Peterson, Audrey Flack, and Chuck Close often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs.”

Richard Estes at Marlborough Gallery

Richard Estes on Artnet

The Artist’s Commute – Christopher Pace

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the work of artist/designer Christopher Pace. Like other artists I’ve spotlighted in this feature, Chris makes portraits of people on the subway. His process, though, is unlike that of anyone I’ve interviewed before. Chris’ portraits are digital, made pixel by pixel on his phone in a video game-esque style.

Here’s more about the artist in his own words:

Where are you from? How long have you been in New York?

I am originally from New York the state, but have been in NYC for the past 15 years. Moved out here for school and stuck around.

Why do you do portraits of people on the subway?

One of my favorite classes when I was a student was location drawing, it was always interesting (and pretty challenging) to draw an environment that was alive, and had little if any idea you were there. Drawing people on the subway is an extension of that. As for choosing who I draw a portrait of, sometimes a person will just sit down and I will think “wow, I need to draw that guy/girl”. It could be anything, nice clothing, interesting face, hideous hairstyle, not too much rhyme or reason there.

What is your process like? How long does each piece take you?

Pixel portraits are kind of new for me, so I am still feeling this part out. They’re all done on my phone while on the train, using a program called TinyPixels (unsolicited plug, it’s actually a really well-done app). I start with a quick sketch using some ugly color on white, and create a few swatches of any of the standout colors in the peoples’ outfits or skin tones, stuff I might otherwise forget. This part is usually really rough, especially in pixels; only I know what the different pieces are. Then I slowly work back into it laying in color and shading. The ads or maps are usually the very last piece, they’re usually whatever happens to be around me when I get to that part. I actually have as much fun with the tiny ads as the whole rest of the piece.

Because I do them pretty much only on the train (about 30 min back and forth) and sometimes I have to focus more on holding a rail or eating a bagel, a piece can take me upwards of a month and a half.

Why do you use pixelation in your work?

I grew up with Nintendo and SNES, so the small sprite thing resonates with me, but I was always very struck by the pixel work in Roberta Williams and Lucas Arts adventure games. They were great examples of illustrators given the restrictions of VGA graphics and they were able to create amazing pieces within them. I’d say that these pieces are in homage to them, but it really wasn’t so conscious a decision.

What is your art/design background?

I went to art school, and have a degree in interactive media, but have always had a huge interest in traditional design and illustration, so I love to explore where those places can overlap. I recently started an interactive design shop called Charming Robot with a friend of mine. Outside of all that, my own illustration happens in my free time, wherever I can grab it. Like on the train.

Visit Chris’ tumblr page for more of his wonderful drawings!