NEW YORK (PIX11) — Small businesses are the heart of New York City.

Along with being one of New York’s economic engines, the people inside and the buildings can have a story.

An illustrator who lives in Manhattan has been documenting city storefronts for the past two and a half years. Joel Holland initially began the project and posted the pictures to social media in March 2022.

“Initially, it started with places I was familiar with and places I would go to with our kids. Then it became places to go in order to help them a tiny bit. Maybe they will survive,” Holland said during an interview as he sketched C & S Mart, a grocery store on 1st Avenue and East 22nd Street.

“NYC Storefronts” was published this month with more than 225 drawings. It is featured at many local bookstores around New York City and online.

The pictures have a purpose for the viewer, the stores and for him. People suggested places to profile and eventually, a literary agent contacted him.

“It motivated me to draw every day. That community aspect was really fun for me. If someone brings a diner to my attention, I can look around at the places near there,” he said. “I love walking in somewhere and saying ‘hi’ to somebody and having that back-and-forth conversation.”

Holland said he hopes the pictures and the accompanying text by David Dodge remind people to visit and explore the places around them.

Holland is still drawing and working on the next volume on the block.