Spots illustrated: Adrian Tomine draws the boro you know and love

Spots illustrated: Adrian Tomine draws the boro you know and love
Courtesy of Drawn and Quarterly

A contemporary cartoonist has captured everyday life in the city that never sleeps — and he’s bringing some of his finest work to the borough where he rests his head at night.

Famous for his thought-provoking New Yorker covers, Adrian Tomine will present a decade’s worth of drawings featuring slices of anonymous life in the not-so-anonymous Big Apple in his new book — a career-spanning compilation of illustrations for the magazine — and discuss what it’s like crafting images for the esteemed publication.

Tomine said many of his drawings — which capture subtle, narrative-driven New York moments — were influenced by people-watching and simply paying attention in his home borough.

“Almost everyday, there will be an interaction that I can’t imagine seeing in any other city,” he said. “It’s surprising how much access you have to people who are just going about life on the street.”

His soon-to-be released book “New York Drawings” features watercolor-painted illustrations and comic strips. It also includes magazine covers focusing on subjects such as a missed connection between two subway riders, a bored winter ice cream truck driver, and a knowing glance between a bookshop owner and his Amazon package-carrying neighbor.

Tomine — who is also a graphic novelist — said living in Brooklyn inspired some of his most widely viewed illustrations.

For example, he used the subway station formerly known as Atlantic Avenue–Pacific Street as the setting for a 2008 New York Times Magazine cover asking the question: “What makes us want to be good?”

The cover depicts a man contemplating if he should catch the train or help a woman lift a stroller up the stairs.

Tomine said living in the borough also helped him learn how to better draw brownstone buildings and New York City architecture.

At the book release, he’ll sign copies and answer questions about the magazine cover-designing process, which involves plenty of sketching at his home in Park Slope, he said.

“Brooklyn has played a big role,” he said. “It’s appealing because you’re not right in the thick of things — but very close to it.”

“New York Drawings” release at powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (718) 666–3049], Sept. 20, 7–9 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.