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The Gilded Age of Sharpie

Sharpie is coming into its Gilded Age and illustrator Eric Rosner is leading the way. Eric has been an artist for more than 20 glorious years using Sharpie to shine the light on stunning Manhattan during its iconic period, its golden era, its gilded age. And we are more than a little impressed with what he can do with a Sharpie!

We had a little chat with Eric about his work, his favorite marker (spoiler alert: it’s a Sharpie!) and some of his most famous fans!

Eric Rosner

Tell me about yourself! Where are you from? Interests? Likes? Dislikes? Pet Peeves? Give us the good stuff! 

Hello, my name is Eric Rosner.  I am a New York artist specializing in illustrating the Gilded Age of New York.  I love to illustrate the old world of 1880-1910 Manhattan.  It was such an exciting period of science and discovery, progressive thinking, growth, epic architectural construction and unique forms of new entertainment.

I was born in Brooklyn and  grew up in Las Vegas.  I came back to NYC after college and have worked as a Director of Animation (2d/3d) at MTV, Nickelodeon and TVLAND for 23 years.

I love to explore the city looking for forgotten treasures…small relics from the glorious past of Manhattan.

What is inspires you to uncap what’s inside?

I  think that there are personal stories to tell about the old history of New York. I’m mostly interested in exploring the everyday tales of people from every corner of the world and from every profession who had come to New York to live a dream. I like to illustrate those moments in my art.

How do you use Sharpie markers in your work? 

I love my Sharpie!  I have tried using other brands but the road always turns back to Sharpie.  I think the ink lasts the longest and the feel is just perfect for me.

I search for reference photos of a 1880-1910 NYC structure or a scene that I want to illustrate.  A brand new Sharpie is just a perfect, constant line that is a deep black color. And then the magic just happens, simple as that.

Favorite Sharpie?  Why? 

Ultra Fine Point!!!  It’s just the perfect line for me.  I can get the details that I desire and perfect the style that I have been working on.

How would you describe your style? 

Hmm… not sure.  People say it’s very unique in its ornateness yet modern feel. To me it’s just my way of expressing motion and flow.  I try to bring power and emotion to a NYC building.  It’s a strong structure of might and an icon of what New York was, is and will be.  I want to express a sense of purpose in the buildings that I illustrate. These are architectural wonders that have stood for decades and housed people and ideas that changed the world.

How did you get started? 

I’ve always loved to illustrate since early age.  Although I’ve never thought anything special about it until during college. I just wasn’t loving my business classes and escaping into illustration was much more pleasurable and creatively fulfilling. When I moved to NYC I got my job at MTV, a new era of pop art was emerging.  I wanted to make a mark in New York.  I wanted to contribute in a way that the great artists of the city before me did.  So I started a series called “FREAK CITY”, which is a collection of faces from average New Yorkers who had strange and bizarre stories. I illustrated the faces and added various backgrounds which happened to included some of the glorious Gilded Age buildings.  It turned out that people seemed to be drawn to the building backgrounds so much that I’d concentrated on illustrating only the buildings. Then I just keep practicing my drawing skills literally every day.

You have come across some pretty famous fans of your work, do you have a favorite fan moment, famous or otherwise?  

Having Alec Baldwin as a fan and attending one of my shows was a true amazing moment this year.  I have also received wonderful feedbacks from friends and people who have become my fans.  I wouldn’t have continued doing this if not for such incredible outpouring of praise and support.

How do you decide what you want to tackle next, slash can you tell us what you ARE working on next?

I constantly search for inspiring images, buildings, people, vehicles…iconic and epic. When I find something that really strikes me, I draw it doing my best to give it a sense of grandeur and respect that it deserves.  We tend to glorify the future  and sometimes forget the past but it is where we all come from.

My next projects are going to be concentrating on Science and Space.  I want to create art that inspires people about the positive future that we all can have and achieve.  During the 40′s and 50′s magazines would predict great wonders that awaited us all and these images pushed the imagination.  I would like to contribute to the wonders of imagination and thought and help push the next generation even further.

Do you have a soft spot for one of your pieces in particular? 

One of my favorite illustrations is OLD NEW YORK BLOCK.  This was one of my very first successful art works created in the beginning of my obsession with the Gilded Age. It all started as I happened to venture down Broadway, between 33rd to 23rd streets.  I saw this incredible building on the corner, a relic from another time. And as I stood in awe of this 100+ years old structure, I was imagining all the people who must have occupied it , the throngs of ordinary and famous people who strolled up and down Broadway back in the day.  Mark Twain stayed at the Gilsey House on 29th st.  Edison experimented in his Nickelodeon stores just down the street. Tesla, who lived only a block away. Houdini, Oscar Wilde, Lucile Ball, Bob Hope, Winsor McCay and a list of endless people who walked up and down this street  passing this building.  And here I was looking at that very same building that I decided then and there to illustrate.  It really blew me away.  I LOVE New York City and I want to convey it in my art. I felt that the day I saw that building was the beginning of my journey to achieve that goal.

If you could have one super power what would it be and why? 

Hmm… I love quantum mechanics…I would be have the power to explore the universe and all its mysteries.

If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who and why? 

Steve Jobs!  Mister Can-Do-Anything.  I love his saying “The journey is the reward”. I admire his respect of design and simple elegance, the mantra of “Great” over “Good enough”.  He is my hero. He was a glorious visionary.

YES! Movie day!! Check out Eric’s animations and short films on YouTube!

Eric’s animations

http://youtu.be/xxwm_DAnyCA

Also here are some links to some of my short films that I have animated.

http://youtu.be/yROhlgLWLME

http://youtu.be/MgEBOVnuGEw

http://youtu.be/86uM9JSgz8M

http://youtu.be/ymdfr5saN5Y

http://youtu.be/Wt7GR7cqais

2 thoughts on “The Gilded Age of Sharpie

  1. What a wonderful and invigorating interview. You can feel the excitement and creativity of the artist and his love for the city. The interview sparked a great interest in this artist’s work. I will definitely be following him to see where his art takes him. Thank you. I loved this article.

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