Urban Sketchers

Urban Sketchers: Who are they and how to get involved

by Northern Life

The Urban Sketchers movement was dreamt up by Gabriel (Gabi) Campanario, a Spanish journalist and illustrator living in Seattle. It is a community of like minded artists who sketch – on location – the places they visit. It all began back in 2007 when Gabi created a group on the image sharing site, Flickr. Following the group’s popularity he started the Urban Sketchers blog; where vistors could “show the world, one drawing at a time”. The blog is run by a tight nit group of ‘Urban Sketchers Correspondents’ who maintain a network af blogs and social groups.

We show the world,
one drawing at a time

But what exactly is an urban sketch?

Well, “it’s about drawing places that can be put on a map. And everything that happens in those places”, says Gabi. “It’s about showing the world with drawings. Taking people to locations they may never go through artwork you can only create”.

Their manifesto is as follows:

  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.

“Draw verbs, not nouns”

This quote – taken from the Urban Sketchers Facebook group – concisely and acurately sums up the spirit of urban sketching. You were there, you know what happened, you know how it felt and that’s what comes across in these fantasticly evocative pieces of art.

Gabi’s book, The Art of Urban Sketching explores the wide reaching appeal of urban sketching, profiling artists from all around the globe and showcasing their work. He goes into more detail of specific techniques for the urban sketcher in his series of books The Urban Sketching Handbook.

Urban Sketchers anniversary

This year marks the ten year anniversary (11th November 2017) of the Urban Sketchers movement and to celebrate they will be orchestrating an unprecedented 24 hour global sketchwalk.

Urban sketching is global community of tens of thousands, and Gabi’s efforts have given rise to a number of localised groups and artists who share a passion for on location sketching and reportage illustrating.

And it seems that Urban sketching is growing in strength around the North. With groups like Urban Sketchers Yorkshire (find them on Facebook) organising sketchcrawls around the county, the urban sketching phenomenom is only growing stronger.

Becoming an urban sketcher

If you want to get involved, we recommend joining a local group. Urban sketching is a fantastically social pastime and you’re likely to meet some interesting and likeminded people.

More importantly get out there and start sketching.

There are some really helpful tutorials and advice out there. Youtube is a great source to get a feel of the vibe and there are some great books to hone your technique. Obviously Gabi Campanario’s books mentioned above are a great starting point, but there are some other great books including Stephanie Bower’s book on mastering perspective drawing on location or Lynn Chapman’s book on sketching people.

What do I need?

  1. A pen or pencil
  2. Some paper

Ok, that’s the basics, but that’s really all you need; get wrapped up and get out there. Get involved with some groups and check out the Urban Sketchers blog. Get sketching.

Let’s take a look at some examples…

Arles Plaza sketch w/ color #penandink #urbansketch #france #provence #watercolour #watercolor

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