Drawing by Jeffrey Lewis, 2021. Courtesy the artist

Jeffrey Lewis on Keith Haring

The singer-songwriter and cartoonist shares a film about the beloved downtown artist.
Jeffrey Lewis Feb 10, 2021
Video by Jeffrey Lewis

Over the past two decades, New York–based singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis has become an indie rock institution—he has released 33 albums and EPs, and his fans include the Moldy Peaches and Jarvis Cocker. One thing that has set him apart is the way he combines his music with his illustrations, which have appeared in the the Guardian and New York Times. On stage, Lewis projects the illustrations while performing songs he has written to accompany them, creating multimedia performances he calls “low budget films.” After the COVID-19 pandemic shut down music venues, he decided to film these performances at home. “Without being able to tour, I wanted some way to show people the new ones I was making while stuck in my apartment,” Lewis said. “On stage I can have my bandmates play the music while I change the images, but alone at home I have to do both, so filming two takes with my phone and making a simple split screen was my solution.”

For the first installment of Magazine’s new Illustrated Lives series, Lewis created a film about artist Keith Haring. One connection that drew him to the project was his East Village neighborhood in lower Manhattan. “While Haring was spending a couple of formative years involved with Club 57 and PS 122, there was little six-year-old me walking down the street, so I can remember and draw that early ’80s Lower East Side/East Village without much stretch,” Lewis explained. “My whole brain is made out of fire escapes and fire hydrants and tenement cornices.”

To find out more about Haring’s life and work, please visit the Keith Haring Foundation.