About Urban Sketchers

Our mission

Urban Sketchers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel. We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.

This is the manifesto we follow:
  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Our work

The Urban Sketchers nonprofit maintains a network of blogs and also a flickr group where sketchers can share their drawings and stories and interact with each other. Launched on December of 2009, the nonprofit is currently developing educational and fundraising programs to foster the art of on location drawing.

To read the most recent news about our community, see our Drawing Attention updates.

Our history

Urban Sketchers is the brainchild of Spanish-born illustrator and journalist Gabriel Campanario, a staff artist and blogger at The Seattle Times. After seeing an increasing number of people sharing their location drawings in the blogosphere, Campanario started a flickr group in November 2007 as a showcase of urban sketches. A year later, he decided to expand the flickr initiative with a by-invitation group blog where correspondents would commit to posting on a regular basis and also sharing the stories behind the sketches.

In a short period of time, the Urban Sketchers blog and sister flickr group have become popular online outlets for people to share their location drawings. Thousands visit daily for inspiration or to travel vicariously through the visual dispatches from hundreds of contributors on six continents. The blog and its artists have been featured in magazines and newspapers across the globe (see Press).

From dynamic cities like London, Barcelona, New York, San Francisco, Lisbon, Singapore and Seoul, sketchers portray everyday life — from commuters on packed rush-hour subways to coffee drinkers at a sidewalk café. Their open sketchbooks show lively streetscapes, soaring architecture and intriguing faces, all quickly rendered by the sometimes furtive scratching of pen to paper.

"Drawing a city isn't just capturing it on paper, it's really about getting to know it, to feel it, to make it your own," says Nina Johansson, a correspondent in Stockholm.

To better serve this rapidly growing community, Campanario and other blog correspondents established Urban Sketchers as a nonprofit organization on December 6, 2009. The nonprofit aims to organize educational workshops and raise funds for artists' grants and scholarships.

Board of directors
  • Tia Boon Sim is an architect turned educator at Temasek Design School, Singapore. Besides her passion for location drawing, she creates objects with clay and fires them in a wood kiln. In 2003, she earned the Pratt Circle Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement during her two-year study with Pratt Institute in New York.
  • Matthew Brehm (Secretary) is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Idaho. Each summer, he leads an eight-week architecture program in Rome, Italy, with an emphasis on location drawing. His sketches have won awards on two occasions at the Design Communication Association's Biannual Juried Drawing Exhibit.
  • Gabriel Campanario (Chairman) is a Spanish-born journalist and illustrator living in the U.S. Since the early '90s, he has worked for newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic, including La Vanguardia in Barcelona, Diario de Noticias in Lisbon and USA Today in the Washington DC area. He currently works as a news artist for the Seattle Times, where he publishes the blog and weekly feature Seattle Sketcher.
  • Simonetta Capecchi (Vice Chair) is an Italian architect and illustrator based in Naples. Since 2006, she has curated the annual exhibit on travel sketchbooks, In viaggio col taccuino. Her sketchbooks have been included in many exibitions and collective books.
  • Jason Das is a multidisciplinary artist, activist, idealist and information wrangler based in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Ea Ejersbo is an artist and printmaker based in Århus, Denmark. She works for Gøglerskolen School of Street Circus as a project and management secretary.
  • Julien Fassel, aka Lapin, is a French illustrator working in fashion, magazines and advertising. He sketches every day in his notebooks, using this endless archive as the elements of his illustrations.
  • Isabel Fiadeiro is Portuguese painter and gallery/shop owner. She has been living in Mauritania since 2004 and sketching nonstop. From time to time, she spends up to a month in a remote village sketching and sharing the everyday life with its residents.
  • Marc Taro Holmes is a concept artist, art director and illustrator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has worked in the entertainment industry since 1995 on projects such as Bioware/EA's Neverwinter Nights and Turbine Entertainment's Lord of the RingsOnline.
  • Nina Johansson is a Swedish art, design and computer graphics teacher, who spends most of her free time drawing around Stockholm. She went from doodling-on-whatever to filling sketchbooks in 2005, and now the bookshelves in her home have less and less room for novels.
  • Cathy Johnson is an artist and writer based in the Kansas City area. A lifelong sketcher, she has written and illustrated more than 30 books and was a contributing editor for Country Living, The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Artist.
  • Stuart Kerr is a Scottish illustrator and designer. He is involved with a diverse range of projects from British heritage exhibition work to illustrations for Japanese publications. Stuart also teaches part-time at the Glasgow School of Art and is currently based in Edinburgh.
  • Veronica Lawlor (Treasurer) is an illustrator and president of Studio1482, an illustration collective in New York City. She teaches drawing and illustration at Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute and Dalvero Academy. Lawlor has created reportage illustrations for numerous clients, including 3M, Brooks Brothers and the Hyatt hotels. Her on-site drawings of the September 11th attacks on NYC are part of the Newseum, the museum of journalism in Washington DC.
  • Kumi Matsukawa is a Japanese illustrator with a background in advertising. She has been drawing story boards for TV commercials since 1994. In 2001 she started to instruct pastel and watercolor classes in her neighborhood.
  • Shiho Nakaza is an illustrator based in Los Angeles and a board member of the Society of Illustrators in Los Angeles.
  • Eduardo Salavisa is an illustrator and teacher based in Lisboa, Portugal. He is the author of "Diàrios de Viagem" and a curator of exhibits and workshops on sketchbooks. His web site, "Diario Grafico," is an archive dedicated to sketchbooks from the past to nowadays.
  • Samantha Zaza is an art teacher, illustrator and trapeze artist based in Istanbul.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there
    I´m Uwe Pawlowski, living in Bischofszell near the Lake of Constance. I like to ask about your experiences in urban sketching on an iPad. I try to use the Apple-App Proceate, but I´m not satisfied with it. Any idea of a better app?
    Kind regards from Switzerland, Uwe