Before chronicling the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference for Texas Monthly, New York illustrator Steve Brodner had never been to Austin—but that actually worked to his advantage. “The idea was to capture the scene as someone who just happened upon it,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to get the inside scoop on anything.” The 42-year-old snapped photographs and took notes during the five-day event—his standard procedure for any such assignment—and then spent nearly three weeks in his studio creating a sketchbook of musicians, industry insiders, and fans (see “5,707 Schmoozers, 750 Bands, 29 Musical Cars, and 250 Gallons of Cream Gravy,”) as well as theTexas-inspired self-portrait at right. Brodner, whose distinctive work appears regularly in magazines such as Rolling Stone and The New Yorker, is used to working mammoth gatherings: He covered the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 1984 and 1988 and last year’s Million Man March (“I was the one white Jewish guy in the march,” he says. “Everyone was very nice to me”). He left Austin thoroughly enchanted by the festival. “It had this great Woodstocky feel. It seemed fragile and sacred and very beautiful.”