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

Internship in Helsinki leads to sketching adventure, book deal

T.K. Justin Ng, a 21-year-old architecture student at the University of Waterloo in Canada, recently spent a six-month internship at an architecture firm based in Helsinki. The stay abroad also gave him the opportunity to make many sketches of the Finnish capital and create a book, “An Urban Sketcher’s Guide to Helsinki,” that was just published by Nemo. USk Blog editor Gabi Campanario asked T.K. some questions about his experience drawing in a new city and getting his work published.

Photo by Peter Kwak
How long has it been since you started urban sketching?
I have been sketching since 2013 when I was a high schooler in love with contemporary art but not entirely sure if I wanted to study architecture. Little did I know, four years later, I would publish an 180-page book filled with sketches and writing about my travels near and around Helsinki.

Tell us about your experience in Helsinki.
As an urban sketcher and architecture student, I was ecstatic to live in a city famous for its design culture and began sketching Helsinki almost every day. Prior to my internship, I 'trained' myself to sketch in the cold and drew on the streets of Toronto during Christmas time in -10C. Contrary to my habits from sketching in the tropical city of Hong Kong, I learned to sit in the sun and sit near building entrances, hoping for a few seconds of warmth every couple of minutes.

I couldn't help but feel a little lonely....There aren't a lot of people on the streets in the winter so I joined some events hosted by the local universities....Education in Finland is free for all European citizens so there were a lot of students coming from all over Europe, and I had the chance to meet this diverse group of people ranging from Croatians to Dutch.

My housemate, Tuomas, a law student, taught me a lot about the city and brought me to have the best Finnish meatballs in Helsinki.

A peek inside "An Urban Sketcher's Guide to Helsinki," a 180-page book by T.K. Justin Ng

How did the idea of doing a book came about?
As I was about to finish my first sketchbook, I thought that it would be nice if I could do something with the drawings. I began emailing publishers to ask if they might be interested in publishing a book with my sketches. Weeks went by without success, but a woman from one of the larger publishers referred me to a smaller publisher called Nemo. I was signed to Nemo Publishing, working on a book about a city I knew little about at the time.

Over the next two to three months, I began researching more about Finland's history from the Swedish era to the Russian era. The sun sets really early in the winter in Helsinki, so I would sketch before I went to work, then scan the drawings and write the book after work in a cafe. On the weekends, I would travel away from the city centre, to other parts of Helsinki or entirely different cities like Porvoo and Turku.

Now that your internship is over, do you see Helsinki in your future?
I don't know when I will visit Helsinki again, but I look forward to the day I can revisit the places I sketched, maybe in the summer this time.

What advice do you have to other urban sketchers who would like to publish their work?
Although I am just a first-time author, I think that it comes down to having lots of drawings that show different facets of a place. After that, it comes down to marketing yourself and contacting publishers. I think that my book would not have been possible without the support I have gained from social media.

To see more of T.K. Justin NG’s work, visit his website at





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