New #USkWorkshop in San Francisco, Oct. 10:

June 16, 2009

A statement of purpose

June 14, 2009. Sketching in Edmonds, WA (USA). See the sketch here.

I've tried to condense the philosophy of urban sketching into a few sentences. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, if anything to have a clear idea of what our Flickr group and blogs should be about. I've already tweeted some thoughts on the matter, but here's my final draft, just waiting for your input.

Urban Sketchers Manifesto
  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. We don't exaggerate reality or caricaturize people.
  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.
Gabriel Campanario
USk founder
Seattle, WA


zhenia said...

this is wonderful, Gabi! a real great Manifesto.

lapin said...

I can't find a better way to describe us…

Pedro said...

Clear and concise definition.
I am triyng to do it like that.
Let's draw.

Kiah Kiean said...

I like the manifesto, especially the last one. Great!

TIA said...

Wow, well done! this makes history... like the bauhaus in 1919

Isabel said...

great you finally post them I've been trying to reassemble them from your tweets Viva el manifesto!

Matthew Brehm said...


S. Zellous said...

Excellent! Those ferries bring back memories; I took the Bremerton Ferry for almost three years.

sanjeev joshi said...

great agenda,just one doubt.Do we post one sketch at a time? earlier manifesto had 3 or 4 i suppose.Please clarify.As i tend to post more.

James Hobbs said...

Excellent. I'm not sure how truthful my drawings are though.

Pom Pom said...

Interesting. Well, I love ferry boats. Sketching on location is share worthy.

bh yoo said...

Very developed and defined statement!

Cathy Gatland said...

Great summary Gabi - I think I'm still trying to find my individual style though!

gabi campanario said...

thanks for the feedback folks!

sanjeev, posting several drawings on the blog is fine, the point about showing the world one drawing at a time is more of a goal, meaning to keep drawing, and no matter how fast we do it, we can only draw one image at a time!

james, your drawings are truthful enough!

cathy, you have a great style already, we all do have our individual styles even if we don't know it... we just have a hard time perceiving it some times

Don McNulty said...

This is good - straight forward, understandable, brief,and inspiring.

kane said...

I DISAGEE with #4. A great deal of my work I do exaggerate reality. I move thiongs around. I add watertowers, lightposts and electric wires where they aren't. I squash and stretch buildings. I always caricaturize people. I even caricaturize buildings. I am not really trying to draw the truth. I'm just trying to take a blank page and make it beautiful to me. I'm a liberty taker. that'a the only point I would change on your list. It's too limiting and too strong a definition.

gabi campanario said...

i know your drawings Tommy and we've seen what you've drawn on photos and video and they seem truthful enough to me of what you had in front of your eyes... you draw every single brick on those buildings, it doesn't get any more truthful than that!

i'd say that taking some liberties it's ok. the intention is what matters... we don't want to fool people drawing an elephant on the street when it really wasn't there, you get the idea

Maria said...

Excelent Manifesto!
"Clear and concise definition."
I triyng to do it all like you say. I draw always in the local/place BUT I hope drawing like the reality... :)

Carey Waterworth said...

Gabi, This is a perfectly summarized statement of what USk is about. Very clear for newbies and interested parties. Thanks!

Edmonds Ferry I take it...

bettyfromtexas said...

I think this is "just right," Gabi. Perfect!!

matthew_c said...

I do think there should be an item noting the fact that we sketch urban space (planned by people for people) - not natural space or rural countryside.

jerry waese said...

my teacher taught me not to capture.

instead, through observation and markings, "release" the spirit of what you find into your work.

he actually used the term "unearth" as if moving through layers.

I am not sure if we as a group are ready to see it that way, but I don't capture, but I love to captivate.

Apple-Pine said...

How about adding some Urban touch to this manifesto. Not that I disagree with eight points you have - but when I draw and paint in the woods I do not post it in USk on Flickr :)

gabi campanario said...

i've been hesitant to put the word urban on the manifesto because it means different things to different people. if we take 'urban' too literally, would my sketch of the ferry in the water be urban? perhaps not.

I think for the purposes of USk, urban means "where people live," which is included in point number 2. that should be enough.

it's a broad definition but the whole point of the manifesto is to define the spirit of the group. if we get too specific, people may think it's supposed to be followed to the letter

i think the group's name being 'urban sketchers' should also be enough cue that we are not about drawing valleys and prairies

if many folks feel strongly about putting the word 'urban' into the manifesto perhaps there's a way to do it without raising the same questions that have come up in the past, i.e., "i live in a small town, can I still participate?"

Maria said...

I agree whit all the Manifesto excluding a pure imitation of reality.
For that, we make photos. Never the artistic draw may be a copy of reality, but an interpretation to our style.

For example: I often draw everything around me, almost 360 degrees. He is what I see around me.
And so, until it gives a greater perspective of the place that draw to the other people :)

Em português:
Concordo em absoluto com todo o Manifesto excluíndo a questão da imitação pura da realidade. Para isso, faziam-se fotografias.
Nunca o desenho artístico pode ser uma cópia da realidade. Mas sim uma interpretação ao nosso estilo.

Por exemplo: eu desenho muitas vezes tudo ao meu redor, quase
360º. porque é o que eu vejo ao meu redor.
E assim, até se dá uma perspectiva maior do lugar que desenhamos :)


robbe said...

oh, i love manifesto (whats the plural form of manifesto? manifesta? manifestos?)
it takes me back to times of impressionists and les nabis...

Björn Eskil said...

Well done Gabi!

enb said...

I was hesitant to express my opinion but since Gabi specifically asked over twitter about #4 I feel compelled to reply.
I'm actually suprised that there isn't really any constructive criticism from the large, talented, and well spoken pool of usk correspondents and contributors- but perhaps that's the nature of manifestos and peoples reaction to them.
I always felt that exaggeration of some things and less of others was an important aspect to telling the story. Just like a face, a building or scene has character to it and the art of caricature highlights that character as well as the artists style. An example of this is the very memmorable automobile sketch of the citreon that I believe were done by the very talented Lapin (my sincerest apologies to the artists if I'm mistaken). Part of what makes those sketches so lovely is the exaggerated proportions and perspective. It's part of Lapin's style and without it the sketches wouldn't be nearly the same.
My compliments and appreciation to Gabi for this interesting statement for his group- something he clearly put a lot of thought into generating. Well done. And bravo to you for encouraging its further debate!

gabi campanario said...

thanks for the feedback Ian, I'm a big fan of Lapin's work but I don't consider his sketches an exaggeration of reality, he does have a very unique style and chooses interesting angles to draw from, but the result is still realistic. i totally agree that sketches should reflect the artist style. by no means urban sketches should be pure realistic renderings without personality

as far as caricatures, i disagree, i think caricatures are a very specific illustration genre that doesn't fit our group. the sketch of a face may come out looking a little like a caricature, but if the intention was not to caricaturize the person, that would be fine with me

Apple-Pine said...

point taken, Gabi - too much specifics is too much! I concur.

matthew_c said...

Gabi, it would be good to tag this post with "manifesto" so it's easy to find.

enrique said...

I missed this manifesto the moment you wrote it so I feel I´m a bit late joining this discussion. I also disagree with #4 and some of the sentences above by Tommy or Ian reminds me a great drawing by El Roto: "para hacer caricaturas solo hay que dibujar del natural".

gabi campanario said...

ok, there seems to be some more disagreement about number 4. how about if we just leave it as "we are truthful to the scenes we witness," I think that covers the point of not making things up in our drawings that were not there