Suzanne Forbes, an expat New Yorker in Berlin. Made possible by the generous support of her Patrons. https://www.patreon.com/SuzanneForbes. Former DC Penciller for Star Trek, former courtroom artist, painting portraits and teaching drawing.
Sometimes people in Europe just look really European.
These two just slayed me. What you can’t see is that her amazing vintage 80s coat was a rich deep marigold yellow and her chunky knit scarf was a darker mustard. She was coolly wearing the hell out of her whole look.
People often look so displeased when they are looking at their phones. Since I don’t have a phone, I’m free to look around and observe this!
The interesting thing about this kinda heavily-worn older guy and the techno-looking younger guy is that I don’t know that they knew each other.
The older guy was playing and they just started dancing together. This isn’t the prettiest drawing, it’s kinda clunky, but I found it half-finished in a sketchbook this weekend and decided to finish it cause I like the women in the background.
And I really like the fact that I drew a guy doing an actual double take!
I also found this drawing made very quickly from the upper deck of the M29 bus and finished it roughly.
It’s a good example of how elements can be added to a documentary drawing responsibly. You couldn’t see the typical European notice column with its posters in the same shot as the guy, but it wasn’t far away, and adding it helps to sell the setting of the sketch really quickly.
Berlin is an amazing combination of good-citizen law-abidingness and cavalier scofflawry.
Obeying the law seems to be, iike many things in Germany, left to your good sense. You may have read that German people will shout at you if you cross the street on a red light; one phrase that they shout translates to “Think of the children (you monster)!”. It’s not actually so much about obeying the red light as setting a careful example to kids.
Besides, nobody in Berlin is in such a hurry that they really need to jaywalk.
The European sense that the law should be obeyed when appropriate and disregarded otherwise is particularly noticeable on the public transit system. Technically, it is illegal to eat, drink, drink alcohol or smoke on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses. Absolutely everyone ignores this.
Since you can get an espresso, a noodle stir-fry and a six-pack on the subway platform, it’s not difficult.
(You can also get a pack of cigarettes, from an actual cigarette machine, but I haven’t seen anyone smoking on the transit system yet. )
You’ll be on the bus and someone will be eating a pastry; the person across from them will notice and remember that they have a sandwich in their bag. Pretty soon everyone is crunching away.
Here you see a picture of a girl cheerfully eating french fries- which you will note are SPECIFICALLY forbidden- while the ticket inspector gives her friend a ticket for riding without one, which everyone does all the time, of course. You can see my hand drawing the U-Bahn signs, which are hidden by the ticket inspector’s head.
I was waiting for her to offer him some fries, but she rudely did not.
I love all this lawlessness, of course. One of my patrons requested that I make some work about the similarity between Berlin now and New York in the 80s, so I drew this picture of me and my best friend Skenney and our friend Naomi on the subway in 1982 or ’83. We used frisbees as drink trays during our “Mobile Tequila Sunrise” phase; you can see Naomi is daintily adding the grenadine.