The debut book from Joshua D. Fischer – and the first to come from Bedford + Bowery – is called “Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love.” To get you psyched for this hardcover collection of photos and interviews (out in May from Skyhorse Publishing), here’s another new installment of the series.
As an avid and committed artist, Jeremy Nguyen visits Drink n’ Draw sessions all over New York. But he considers himself a regular at the one every Wednesday at Bat Haus, a coworking space in Bushwick. This is where 26-year-old Jeremy goes to “work out” his life-drawing skills. It’s where he’s met friends and girlfriends. It’s where he vets potential candidates for gigs at a day job at a digital comics publisher. Most importantly, it’s where he can hang out with people without having to just go to a bar. “I’m kind of a lightweight,” he says.
After graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design, Jeremy moved to Brooklyn, found Bat Haus nearby, and became very familiar with the neighborhood. He’s originally from Oakland, California and decided to live in Bushwick because it “has a similar vibe,” he says. As the cartoonist-creator of Stranger Than Bushwick, Jeremy turns a sharp and satirical eye on all things Bushwick: male feminists, girls with matching tattoos, and of course, residents defending themselves from condo developers.
On this night at Bat Haus, a pixie-haired woman who looks to be in her young 20s stands on a small stage as the muse for the nearly 200 guests with art supplies in hand. The studio director plays music (ranging from chill electronic to Cat Power) and directs the model to take on different poses at 30-second intervals. The model removes her colorful muumuu, keeps her oversized and dangling red earrings on, exposes her naked body (revealing several tattoos; we’re in Bushwick, baby), and strikes poses that are dramatic and, obviously, very revealing. As Jeremy sketches the naked figure onstage, we talk quietly while watercolors, tablets, pencils and ink work around us.
It’s kinda frenetic, because it’s so crowded. It’s definitely young. I’d say everyone is an artist. I think everyone’s anxious to draw well here because they think everyone is looking at their stuff.
A lot of the models are ridiculously great. Some of them seem like they’re dancers, because they can’t hold still as long. And then some of them seem like fashion models because they strike these crazy poses that I’ve only seen on runways. And some of them I can imagine are probably just friends of the studio and want to make a few extra bucks. It’s always different body types.
I don’t go out so much, so this is a smart way to get work done while socializing. Some people are like, “Let’s go to a bar and hang out,” and that’s not my style. My style is, “Let’s hang out while also doing something, too.”
This is my gym. This is where I work out. You come here thinking you can get some exercising done, and you don’t realize you have to start flexing.
The first time I came here with a date, I was trying to not fuck up my drawing. Obviously, I wanted to show her that I’m a good illustrator.
I’ll see a lot of couples who will come here as a fun date thing to do. Like they saw it in Time Out New York or something. Sometimes I look at their work, and I’m like: They’re definitely on a date. They’re definitely not artists. It’s fun to see that. What other towns have live drawing that non-artist people go to? It’s thrilling to see what comes out of people who aren’t creative for a living.
This was my way of not being shy, my way of speaking. It’s a way of communicating that is most comfortable for me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m using the same words over and over again. But visually, I can say I’m using a new line – one that I put down on paper and one that I say out in the world. I feel like I have a lot more vocabulary when it comes to how I draw versus how I talk.
Me and my brother really only had each other growing up. We moved around a lot before we settled in California. I was always comfortable around him, but with new people I always feel that shyness. He got me started drawing. We used to draw together. He dropped it as he got older, and I kept doing it.
I used to walk by here every day. It’s this beautiful open, coworking space. At the end of the day, when they have this on Wednesday nights, they close those shutters down [on the front windows]. They don’t want the nude model being seen by people outside. So this becomes its own space: this crazy crowd concentrating on one subject. For two hours, that’s all it is. After those two hours, you go back out there and remember you have a life and projects to get back to – it’s Wednesday.