I’ve been urban sketching for five years, and this summer went to my first Urban Sketchers Symposium. I had expected a convention, but instead experienced a lovely cross between a mutual support group (“Hello, my name is Ed, and I’m a compulsive sketcher…”), and a party where everyone brings something to share (techniques, approaches, enthusiasm). I tried to compare it to other large events I’d been to but there was always a difference. It was like a music festival, but one where you got to jam with the headliners. Or an athletics meeting where you’re running alongside the elite athletes instead of watching them from the grandstand.
The overall atmosphere was very relaxed as everyone indulged their sketching habit whenever and wherever, with a strong sense of being among ‘our people’. It was lovely walking through Manchester noticing fellow sketchers lurking in doorways, perched on benches. We had somehow infiltrated the whole city without anyone noticing!
(A large comics convention was also in Manchester that weekend and it was interesting seeing another tribe enjoying their shared enthusiasms; they were easier to spot…)
The manifesto’s focus on values gives the movement a great combination of strength and flexibility, the living of these values makes us feel good, helping to make the urban sketching crowd such excellent company. I’m looking forward to Chicago…