City Nights: The Miniature Architectural Sketches of Taylor Mazer

Using only a Micron fine-tip pen, Mazer creates stunningly detailed compositions with convincing depth.

Pat Finn Pat Finn

The darkened alleyway is an archetypal site of danger. Its silence calls attention to the looming threats of the bare city; that is, the world that lies beneath the familiar, protective layer of the crowd.

This, at least, has been the way back alleys have usually been depicted, from the late-19th-century documentary photographs of Jacob Riis to modern-day Batman comics. However, the dark, deserted streets of Taylor Mazer’s miniature ink drawings seem different. These tiny illustrations — barely larger than a couple of postage stamps — are marked by an overriding mood of stillness, yet there is no undercurrent of creeping unease.

Perhaps this has to do with the fact that Mazer is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, rather than a larger city like New York or Chicago. There may, in fact, be no surprises lurking around the corners of the streets he renders in such loving detail.

On a formal level, the drawings are remarkable. Using only a Micron fine-tip pen, Mazer is able to create stunningly detailed compositions with convincing depth. He is also a master of rendering light and shadow: His streetlamps truly seem to glow. All of this is more incredible when one considers the tiny scales of these drawings.

Architizerhas covered the trend for miniaturism in the arts in the past. The advantage of tiny artworks is that they demand the viewer’s full focus and attention. In this way, they succeed in blocking out distractions in a way that conventionally scaled works cannot. They become little worlds unto themselves.

Miniature drawings force the viewer to look closely in order to register the details.

Taylor Mazer is part of the adjunct faculty at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. You can buy some of his work at his online store.

All images via Colossal

Pat Finn Author: Pat Finn
Pat Finn is a high school English teacher and a freelance writer on art, architecture, and film. He believes, with Orwell, that "good prose is like a windowpane," but his study of architecture has shown him that a window is only as good as the landscape it looks out on. Pat is based in the New York metro area.
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