Meet the Correspondent: Marina Grechanik > Tel-Aviv, Israel$show=/search/label/Marina%20Grechanik

"Sketching is one of my passions. I don't feel comfortable when I leave home without a sketchbook and some pens in my bag. I think that my way to put things in my memory is to draw them. And taking pictures isn't the same thing.

I live in a very dynamic surrounding — Israel is a warm country with warm weather and warm people. Of course, we have seashores, which calm us a little bit. I love to sit in a corner of some Tel-Aviv coffee shop and explore relationships: between people, their environment, between myself. All this unique local mix of cultures, languages and styles is always a great source for inspiration. You need to be fast, because, as I said, everything is very dynamic. But that's why I love it so much.

Sometimes, I look around, and I find some usual items like sugar bags or napkins. I use them in my drawings to show the atmosphere. Sometimes I draw directly on placemats."

• Marina's art on Flickr.
• Marina's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Tina Koyama > Seattle$show=/search/label/tina%20koyama

"The dictionary says that a hobby is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation.” Although urban sketching certainly provides both pleasure and relaxation, I don’t think of it as my hobby. I think of it more as a way of life – something that has become such a normal part of my everydayness that it shapes how I view the world.

For most of my life I had both the fear of drawing as well as the desire to draw. In 2011, inspired by Gabi Campanario’s Seattle Sketcher column, I finally decided to overcome the fear. His drawings of Seattle – my birthplace and lifelong home – were of sights that I had seen many times, yet had never truly seen. I wanted to learn to see, and therefore experience, those locations (and any new ones that I travel to) more completely. Part 8 of the Urban Sketchers Manifesto, to “show the world, one drawing at a time,” has a flip side: Sketching enables me to see my own world, one drawing at a time.

In the last four years, it is not an exaggeration to say that Urban Sketchers has changed my life. I have met and sketched with many wonderful people around the globe, either at symposiums or during other travel, because the USk network brought us together. I sketch almost weekly with my local group, sharing sketches, art supplies and friendship. Even when I stay home and enjoy sketches online, I am still a part of that rich network, learning with every sketch about other people’s lives.

In May, my husband Greg and I went to France for the first time, and I sketched the Eiffel Tower. Sketching one of the world’s most famous icons felt like a dream come true – the ultimate in urban sketching. But although I can’t resist sketching world-famous icons whenever I’m fortunate enough to see them, for me, urban sketching is much more than that.

Urban sketching is a tree with its middle chopped away to accommodate Seattle’s ubiquitous power lines. It’s about a couple of women chatting over coffee, or about workers roofing the house next door. It’s about an excavator filling a hole where a cherry tree once stood. Or the Tibetan monastery I drive by frequently that I couldn’t resist because it’s bright orange. Urban sketching is a string band performing at a local farmers’ market – or perhaps in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Celebrating the mundane as well as the famous is what urban sketching is all about. My sketches are not necessarily about “special” moments; they are moments made special because I sketched them."

Tina has been editor of Drawing Attention since 2013 and now serves on the Urban Sketchers editorial board. See more of her sketches on her blog, on Flickr and on Instagram.

Meet the Correspondent: Pete Scully > Davis, Calif.$show=/search/label/Pete%20Scully

"I am from urban north London, but now live in urbane Davis California. I sketch, I write, sometimes do things and go places and my name is Pete.

When not Davis, I sketch Sacramento, San Francisco, London, or anywhere else I happen to be. I tend to erase people and cars from my cities, but I'm starting to get over this.

Davis: calm, old-fashioned, progressive, quirky, very very hot in the summer. I use micron and copic pens, with watercolour."

• Pete's blog.
• Pete's art on Flickr.

Meet the Correspondent: Suhita Shirodkar > San Jose, Calif.$show=/search/label/Suhita%20Shirodkar

"I was born in Mumbai (Bombay) and lived in different parts of India until I moved to San Jose, California, where I now live.

Travel inspires my art, but, traveling or not, I try to view the world around me as a traveller would; so whether I’m capturing a moment of calm on the banks of the Ganges in India, or sketching over coffee at my local coffee shop, I aim to look deeply, and with wonder, at both the everyday and the exotic, the old and the new.

I love color. My sketch kit consists of Extra Fine Sharpies (the fact that they bleed into the paper as soon as they touch it works really well for me—it forces me to work super-quick), a small set of Prismacolor pencils and a little watercolor travel set".

Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Travel Tips to Chicago

Welcome! The 2017 Urban Sketchers Symposium is going to be Chicago, Illinois, USA - a spectacular city built on the shores of the beautiful Lake Michigan. Chicago is where the world’s best food, architecture, museums, shopping, live music and all that jazz converge! The heart and soul of Chicago resides in its 77 vibrant neighborhoods. Each one is brimming with its own personality, history, culture, energy and of course, architecture!

There’s a lot to see and sketch! So here are some travel tips to consider straight from locals so you can travel smart and don’t miss a thing. They love Chicago and are sure you will too!

Arriving & Departing
  • From O’Hare International Airport to downtown, take CTA Blue Line. This is a direct trip without changing trains. The La Salle stop is closest to the Symposium Hub (Goodman Center). Fare: $5.00 (from O'Hare only)
  • From Midway Airport, take CTA Orange Line directly downtown. The station is located at the airport.  The State & Van Buren stop is closest to Symposium Hub (Goodman Center). Fare: $2.25
  • You can buy a Ventra card at the train station. It will serve you for your whole stay in Chicago. Read about ways to use the Ventra card here:
  • Uber and Lyft (independent ride services) are also good options to get to downtown Chicago downtown. Shared (pool) rides are budget friendly. Expect to pay around $40 - $45 for an unshared ride from O’Hare to downtown. 
  • Taxis are the most expensive option: $55 - $60, plus tip, to get downtown. 
  • Your hotel may offer a free shuttle to and from the airport. Email the hotel to ask. 
  • When departing, getting from downtown Chicago to O’Hare will take about an hour. International security checkpoints can have long lines, so allow ample time. Have a safe flight!


  • Electric outlets in the US are 110v.
  • Electric appliances for 220v will need both voltage and plug converters. 
  • Electronic devices (phones, tablets, laptops) will adjust for the different voltage automatically, but will need a plug converter. 
SIM cards, phones and WIFI
  • You can buy SIM cards downtown at the Best Buy in John Hancock Center
  • You can also ask your hotel’s’ front desk for a cell phone store that is closer to your hotel. 
  • Free wifi will be available in our Symposium Hub, most hotels’ lobbies, in some hotel rooms and in many coffee shops and restaurants. At cafes, ask your server for passwords. 
  • A free wifi “blanket” covers Millennium Park and Grant Park. Look for Chicago Park District or a variation on this name.  The connection strength may vary.  As with any public wifi, be aware of the risks.
  • Many cellular carriers offer international data packages for travellers.  Check with your carrier at home. It is a good idea to have a small data package in case you need it before you buy a local SIM card.
Public Transportation
  • To use public transportation in the city you will need a Ventra card. A Ventra card can be bought at any “L” train !station. It can be used for trains and buses. The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) app can be useful to find bus and train routes and estimated times. Download it from
  • CTA Fares & Tickets 
       “L” train- $2.25 (except from O'Hare, which is $5.00)
         Bus fare-$2.00
         Transfer- $0.25
         Passes to load on Ventra card and other options:

Eating and retail

  • Tax for food and retail items is not included in listed prices. The tax of about 10% is added at the payment point. Hotel tax is 17.4% and is added at checkout.
  • When eating at sit-down restaurants, tipping is expected. A tip of about 15% is considered average.
  • In cafeterias/coffee shops where you buy food at a counter, tips are not expected, but appreciated.
  • Take advantage of a10% discount at the Exchequer, the official Symposium restaurant, by showing your badge. 


  • Stop by the Chicago Visitors Center in the basement of Macy’s Department Store - 111 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60602. You’ll find the best price on Chicago CityPASS, a 10% coupon for Macy's, many brochures, and CTA and city maps.
  • If you plan to visit museums and other attractions, consider buying a Chicago CityPASS at participating locations or online - It will save you a combined total of about $80 on admission of 5 of these sites: 
          - Field Museum
          -Shedd Aquarium
         - Skydeck Chicago at Willis (Sears) Tower
         - Either Museum of Science & Industry                                                       or John Hancock Center - Observatory
         - Either Adler Planetarium or Art Institute Of Chicago                 
  • Some museums offer free admission on select days so you may schedule your visit accordingly.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago offers free general admission, daily,  to all children under 14. On Thursdays, 5pm - 8pm, it is free for adults with a valid Illinois ID.
  • For destinations and directions, stop at the Symposium Hub to ask questions and get information.


  • Chicago’s downtown is safe and tourist friendly. Al Capone and John Dillinger are now part of Chicago’s long-gone colorful history.
  • Before venturing out to an area away from downtown, check with one of the Chicago volunteers at the Hub to be safe. 
  • Chicago is a big city, so be aware of your surroundings. Beware of pickpockets. 
  • Wear your backpack in the front in dense crowds and make sure it is zipped. 
  • Pay attention to your passport and your phone. Keep them and your valuables in a hidden pocket. 
  • Make copies of your passport and other important documents and keep them separate from originals.
  • Chicago weather in July is sunny, hot and humid. Sunblock, hats and drinking water are highly recommended.
  • Temperatures: 
         Day: 81 - 87 °F (27 - 31 °C). 95 °F (35°C) is possible.
         Night: May (or may not) fall to 61 - 66 °F (16 - 19 °C)

Useful Phone Numbers
Police non-emergency: 1-312-746-6000
Police, Fire or Medical Emergency: 911

24 Hours Walgreens Drug Stores (store is open 24 hours; pharmacies are open from 7am-11pm)
  • 641 North Clark 1-312-587-1416
  • 501 West Roosevelt Rd 1-312-492-8559
  • 757 North Michigan Avenue, 1-312-664-8686
Urgent care: Physicians Immediate Care
600 West Adams Street (60661) 1- 312-506-0900
  • Monday - Friday 7:30am - 8:00pm
  • Saturday - Sunday 8:00am - 4:00pm

See you in Chicago!





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