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

Symposium Behind the Scenes

As everyone celebrates the joys of sketching in and around the Symposium, here’s a sneak peek into what goes on behind the big stage.

A huge part that drives this group is the community. Connecting with volunteers from different time zones and postal codes, it is amazing to see how technology plays a part in what is there to share even with big bodies of water in between. How the world can feel so small with emails, conference calls, shared drives and group chats! It has always been a way of working while holding hands virtually from different parts of the globe.

Each Symposium experience is unique. The backdrop, workshops, sponsors, people, goodies and challenges are all very different. Each one brings tons of great memories and at the same time it hauls in a lot of things to learn from as the teams prepare for the next one.

It is like a game of relay from volunteers passing the pencil from one team to the next making sure they don’t break it. Sourcing through and brainstorming happen at a local and international level. The solutions can come from any continent. As volunteers come from different walks of life, the contributions that come to the table are as varied and surprising. It makes the world so small and yet so much bigger. 

Organizing an event sounds easy but it isn’t especially if it’s done single-handedly. That’s why there are teams set up to support each other to make it an awesome sketchparty. Working with a local team that knows the host city up-close like the back of their hand gives it a solid home ground. With the experience and insight from the international team and the executive board, feedback and support coming from a wider perspective make the whole Symposium process a collaborative effort.

So that’s what goes on from pitching, planning, setting up, selecting the program, designing, inviting everyone about it and finally mounting the event. There are a lot of details and legwork that go on behind the Symposium that everyone loves! The unsung heroes setting up for an unforgettable experience have the passion for sketching so much that they hardly are seen sketching during the event. This is the common factor in each volunteer and participant. Thanks to a community that keeps learning and inspiring each other. Each one wants to generously give back. The challenges are many but the rewards are even more fulfilling!

So let’s give it up for everyone who put this up together this year.  
570 sketchers. 34 countries. 1 city.

Everything about Chicago was BIG! It was a big reunion of old and new, near and distant friends who love to sketch against a towering magnificent backdrop of a city. It had a big awesome line-up of workshops and demos, a big goodie bag, big sketchwalks and a big group of local and international volunteers who made sure it went well and was tons of fun!


Chicago was inexhaustible even for the sketchers with the biggest appetite. It was larger than life and every nook and cranny was sketch-worthy. The workshops and demos this year offered amazing techniques and media to explore from a varied inspiring faculty. Each offered a slice of Chicago by bringing the class to a designated location which was recommended by the local team. Many thanks to the Education Committee for putting up together a great curriculum that is the gem of every Symposium!


The scale of Chicago was overwhelming and humbling. Trying to capture all that into paper or tablet with ink, gouache or twigs was a beautiful challenge. Inspiration came from everyone, everywhere and everything which was why all Symposiums felt like grand playgrounds! With such a big city, it was a challenging feat as well to make sure everyone was in sight. Big thanks to all the volunteers who worked hard and kept such a big group happily together during the sketch walks. 

This year's SWAG was a goodie bag choc-filled with sketch treats. A huge shout out to the Fundraising Team for bagging a massive selection of sponsors this year! It was a lot of gear to play with and the art booths made the whole place like a candy store.


Everything in huge servings deserve a big, big round of applause! 

The Symposium team was tirelessly coordinated by Fernanda Vaz de Campos, who has brought with her 4 years of invaluable symposium team experience. Fervently working on this year's team was also Alvin Wong, Wiltfried Pathuis, Maria Regina Tuazon, and Chicago's very own, Alexandra Zonis, Barbara Weeks & Joel Berman.

Fernanda started her journey into Symposiums as a participant in Barcelona which was a major life changer for her. She never knew that the next 4 years will change her life even more as she took on being part of the team to host the Symposium in Paraty, Brazil (2014) then becoming part of the organising committee for the next ones in Singapore (2015), Manchester (2016) and heading the Symposium team in Chicago (2017). As the Symposium has been on center stage in her life in the last four years, she will be taking a break to pursue some personal and career goals including sketching on the top of her list as well. A big thank you to Fernanda for all her contributions to Urban Sketchers and wishing her success and fulfilment in all her future endeavours. 

To everyone who made this Symposium possible in every way, THANK YOU! To everyone who made it this year and followed the event online, THANK YOU for joining the 8th Urban Sketchers International Symposium. Very soon, before we realise it, we will meet again in Porto for the 9th USk Symposium 2018!

See you all out there sketching!





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