The Moved & The Shook: Drawings – Sherwin Tjia

For ten years I carried a sketchbook around in my pocket. It was always the same kind of sketchbook. It was about an inch thick and had the rough dimensions of a postcard. “Opens flat!” the cover sticker boasted. And over ten years I filled thirty of them.

Mostly I filled them with drawings of folks on the bus. I took a bus everyday to my job up the hill and instead of reading or smartphoning I drew my daily companions on that ride.

You really get to know someone when you draw them. You get to like them, even if they look like a mean sort of person. A funny thing that happens when you run your pen along their faces like you’re a blind person trying to get a picture of them in your mind. You grow fond of the particularities of a person’s features.

One time I was on the street and I see this guy walking by me and I recognize him but don’t know how I know him and then I remember I drew him on the bus a couple days ago. For a moment I consider stopping him and showing him the drawing I have of him in my book but then I thankfully come to my senses and don’t say anything.

I get really self-conscious when the person beside me starts showing an inordinate interest in my drawing. They often look at my drawing and then look at the person and then back again, to make comparisons between my drawing and real life.

The rise of the smartphone was a great thing for me. It’s easier to draw someone if they’re sitting still, and their razor-sharp focus on the game they’re playing or the Facebook they’re updating or the text that they’re typing helps me out a lot.

One of the things I had to get used to was the movement of the bus. It’s like being on a rocking boat. You learn when it’s a good time to make a line, and when you have to refrain. Only a few times did the bus suddenly jerk or brake and make me wreck a really good drawing.

I don’t want folks to know I’m drawing them. Sometimes they notice and then they get all self-conscious and then I stop drawing at once because who needs that kind of scrutiny? Even though they are in a public space, they have a private look on their faces.

This series of drawings are what I consider the best and loveliest from my ten-year harvest:

The Moved & The Shook
100 drawings by Sherwin Sullivan Tjia hand-picked from ten years of sketchbooks

October 2 – October 27, 2013
5478 St-Laurent Blvd
Montreal, QC














Sherwin Sullivan Tjia is a Montreal-based writer & illustrator who has written eight books.

The World is a Heartbreaker, a collection of 1600 pseudo-haikus, was a finalist for the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s A.M. Klein Poetry Award.

The Hipless Boy, a collection of short, interconnected stories told in graphic novel form, was a finalist for the Doug Wright Award in the Best Emerging Talent category, and was also nominated for four Ignatz Awards.

His invention, The E-Z-Purr: The Virtual Cat! (an album with over an hour of cats purring) is available on the iTunes music store.

In his spare time, he organizes Slowdance Nights, Love Letter Reading Open Mics, Crowd Karaoke singalongs, and Strip Spelling Bees in and around Montreal and Toronto as Chat Perdu Productions.