People Sketching, Sketching, Urban Sketching

A Day in The Life of a Hairdresser – Reportage Illustration

When I read about a ‘sketching people at work competition’, I almost squealed with excitement. I love reportage illustration so it was a perfect assignment for me.

Drawing a day in the life of a hairdresser - reportage illustration by Sophie Peanut
The concertina sketchbook of my illustrations of Tracey at work.

Reportage illustration competition

The Center for Transformative Work Design in Australia and their artist in residence Lynne Chapman organised the competition. Entries had to be submitted in long concertina sketchbooks. They needed to include a series of sketches and a short written interview. Each artist was allowed three entries. I wanted to illustrate jobs that would allow me to draw a strong visual narrative.

I toyed with a few ideas but most of them were either too hard to implement or didn’t have enough visual interest.

Hairdresser reportage illustration by Sophie Peanut
The first part of my concertina sketchbook. I  worked simultaneously on different areas of the sketch, going back and forth as new customers got their hair washed, cut or colour applied.

It’s a few days later when Tracey was cutting my hair that I found my first sketching people at work entry! Hairdressers’ shops are busy with lots of people and interesting things to draw:   ideal to try your hand at reportage illustration.

Drawing Tracey at work

I called again at Tracey’s salon a few days later with my sketchbook. While customers were quite still, Tracey herself was moving all the time. I couldn’t ask her to stand still, so had to look for patterns in her actions and come back and forth between sketches, hoping she would assume a similar pose later on.

Drawing Tracey at work in her hairdressing salon - pen and watercolour drawing by Sophie Peanut
The middle of the drawing. I sketched shop itself to try to give a feel of what it is like to work in the salon.
Sketching hairdresser at work by Sophie Peanut
And last part of the sketch… The sunlit entrance of the shop.

The salon was busy and customers were coming in one after the other so I left some of my interview questions with Tracey for her to answer later (see my interview write up below).

It was an exciting and productive morning. I am getting a taste for reportage illustration. I love to draw fast: there is no time to think. After a while, you get in the groove and everything flows… Magic!

View A Day at The Garage my second entry for the competition.

A day in the life…

Tracey is a hairdresser. She works with a couple of assistants in the tiny salon her mum opened over 50 years ago. She still cuts the hair of some of her Mum’s very first customers, and that of their children and grandchildren.

Has the job changed over time? Well, the shop has been decorated many times and hair colours are now made with gentler chemicals, but the business operates in much the same way as it did years ago.

Technology hasn’t changed the job either. While some hairdressers use social media and the internet to grow their customer base, Tracey hasn’t had the need to do so. She has known most customers for years and many have become friends. With a solid customer base, she is able to organise her working week how she likes.

Hairdressing is a busy and demanding job: you are on your feet all day and need to be a good timekeeper as you work to appointments. You also need to be a good listener and communicator to give customers hairstyles they like.

Tracey loves her job and rates it 10 out of 10. She says ‘ I enjoy being creative and making people look and feel good about themselves’.


A day in the life of a hairdresser - Reportage illustration by Sophie Peanut


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