Hey y’all! Second day of sharing some behind the scenes of illustrating Marvelous Mabel! Today I wanted to talk about illustrating 20s-30s New York City, but I specifically wanted to talk about illustrating the inside and outside of Gay Blades Ice Skating Rink.
Gay Blades Ice Rink was one of the featured settings within the story, both inside and outside. It was located at 52nd and Broadway. It was an ice skating rink, then it eventually turned into a roller skating rink in its heyday in the 40s.
There weren’t any pictures of the exterior of Gay Blades in the 20s-40s, so for my first sketch of Mabel waiting outside, I worked off of random pictures of older NYC building walls and the Gay Blades original logo. Then Dave and Jess found a website with pictures of the updated exterior of the former Gay Blades rink that were taken in 2007. Most recently the building was known as Roseland Ballroom. It still retained most of the original architecture, so it wasn’t too difficult to imagine what the exterior looked like in the 20s-30s. Having the picture of Roseland really helped me illustrate the side of the building and the ticket booth.
The same thing happened with the inside of Gay Blades too. When I originally sketched the interior, I made it look too modern because I worked from reference photos of ice rinks that were a few decades newer. Dave and Jess noted that it looked too modern, and they emailed me a great picture of the interior of Gay Blades when it opened up for roller skating in the 1940s. That picture helped me revise the background accurately! It really was a beautiful and spacious place.
Using reference photos is really important in illustrating stories set in certain periods, and as an illustrator I’m always grateful when the art director, editor, and author send me photos and articles. I love researching and looking in archives for reference pictures too. Researching is one of my favorite parts of illustrating!
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A place for my personal art, thoughts and musings!