Greenpoint Gazette
Danika Fears
Nathan Pyle

Viral Illustrator Teaches New Yorkers to Play Nice

BY Danika Fears

Ohio native Nathan Pyle moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue creative writing. He shot to the ranks of Internet stardom last year after creating a series of “Tips and Etiquette” drawings depicting good ways to deal with everyday urban interactions (like smelly food on the subway and P.D.A.) that clearly struck a chord with readers. The series went viral – and eventually helped him land a book deal and a job at Buzzfeed.

On Thursday evening, fans gathered in the basement of Greenpoint’s WORD bookstore for a discussion and signing with the 31-year-old author.

“Nathan P. manages to answer almost every burning question we have about city etiquette in his book,” WORD events director Jenn Northington said. “We knew we weren’t the only ones with questions.”

The Greenpoint Gazette caught up with Pyle via email to ask a few more questions about his work – including the story behind that glasses scam. Read more below:

How did you come up with the idea for the “Tips and Etiquette” series?
I posted some NYC-centric humor to the Internet in 2012, and it received a warm reception. I realized then that illustrating some of the frustrations of daily life in NYC could be a deep well of inspiration.

Were you surprised when the series went viral?
I worked probably 30 to 40 hours creating that first series, so I really hoped it would go viral!

What’s the rudest thing you’ve seen a New Yorker do while living in the city?
I broke up a fight once between two women – one of them had a stroller, and that was really the only reason I stepped in. I couldn’t believe it!

In one of the sketches you mention that a guy really tried to get you to pay $50 for his glasses. Can you tell me how that scenario went down?
I was walking through the West Village, and a guy swerved to bump into me and then dropped his glasses. Immediately I was suspicious – he told me I broke his glasses and I needed to pay for it. I refused and told him he needed to watch where he was going. When I arrived at my apartment, I looked up “glasses broken scam” and sure enough there were a few posts about it on various forums.

Has Brooklyn influenced your work at all?
Brooklyn is really the main reason I drew #25 – the “louder borough” vs. the “outer borough.” I walk to Brooklyn a few times a week, and it’s just so peaceful and quiet compared to where I am in Manhattan!

Are there any specific etiquette tips you might have for Brooklynites?
I think strollers are particularly popular in Brooklyn, and on page 63 I illustrate how to help someone carry one down stairs. And related, on page 3, it’s always important to “slim down” your group and allow faster people to pass by on the sidewalk

Do you think New Yorkers are really as rude as their reputation might suggest?
I mention in the book that they’re truly so helpful – I’ve experienced such kindness, particularly last year when I was on crutches. Some people get the wrong impression – mainly because New Yorkers are just moving so fast and focused on their commute.

What’s next for you?
I’m a full time illustrator and content creator at BuzzFeed now! They want me to think outside the box and do all kind of fun stuff, which I absolutely will. (It’s my first week!)

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