Justin "Squigs" Robertson: The Light of Broadway
by Brookelynn Mason
Visual art accompanying the performing arts makes perfect sense. Sardi's Restaurant has their extremely well-known gallery of Broadway star caricatures, Amber Kempter is the genius behind the fan made bobble heads of "Broadway goes POP!" and Jack Abrams is a 14-year-old who makes Broadway show-themed Legos.
Enter Justin "Squigs" Robertson, the mastermind and artist of the Lights of Broadway Show Cards, the baseball cards of Broadway. They are such a huge hit that there's even a Facebook group dedicated to trading hard-to-get cards signed by the the celebrities on them!
"Caricature is a classic art form," Justin says, beginning the story of how this particular form of art is uniquely suited for theater. Before the days of television and movies, there was theater and art. "Caricature crosses boundaries and goes hand in hand with pop culture," he continues. Since caricature is accessible to all, his work makes theater accessible to a wider audience. Justin is the Al Hirschfeld of our time.
Before he become an artist, however, Justin was an actor. "I was poor," he chuckles, "and I would draw caricatures for my cast mates as gifts." The Lights of Broadway project became prominent just a few years ago when Justin was selling cards he'd drawn at a table at the Broadway Flea Market. Some kids came by and bought them. One of those kids happened to be the son of the Tony-winning producer Dori Berinstein. "When she saw them, she asked to meet, and we've been partners on this ever since."
"Lights of Broadway is about education and the celebration of art," Justin says, beginning to get very passionate about the topic. "It is a collaborative project." As of now, there are current 460 regular collectable cards in circulation, not including promotional and special event cards, with 130 cards planned for the future and tons of other goodies.
"The beauty of theater," Justin gets serious for a moment, "is that you get to see into the life of someone who's different than you. [Live theater] is empathy. There was a time when theater was more affordable...it was not much more expensive than seeing a movie. Now, yes, it is expensive, but most shows have a lottery system, cancellation lines, and discounted same-day tickets."
In addition to the Lights of Broadway, Justin often commemorates different events with caricature art (movies, show openings, etc.). Click each image to enlarge, and hover your mouse for Justin's insight into each piece. For mobile users, tap to enlarge and then tap the small (teeeeeeny tiny, really) square in the bottom right of your screen.
More info on Justin and the Lights of Broadway trading cards below.
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