Design jargon explained: urban sketching

Elizabeth Alley of Urban Sketchers explains why you should get involved in this fast-growing movement.

Urban Sketchers is a global community of artists who practice drawing on location in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to. The movement was started on Flickr in 2007 by journalist Gabriel Campanario, who went on to establish Urban Sketchers as a nonprofit organization in 2009. Here Elizabeth Alley explains what it's all about and why you should get involved...

Urban Sketching isn’t always urban, and sometimes it is more like painting than sketching, but either way it is firmly rooted in creating images on location from direct observation.

Urban sketching is a concept that has been around for a couple of centuries, but has gained momentum as a movement in recent years. As the popularity of sharing images digitally grew and became easier, sketchers became aware of others like them all over the world, and were eager to show their creations in a way other than by asking people to flip through their sketchbooks.

Urban sketching is a sociable way to refine your artistic skills

Gabi Campanario, known as 'Seattle Sketcher' for the Seattle Times, took notice and started a Flickr group dedicated to sharing direct-observation on-location sketches, which eventually became a blog, which eventually became Urban Sketchers.

Today Urban Sketchers is a US-based nonprofit organization that works around the world to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, and to promote its practice while connecting people around the world. In short, Urban Sketchers aims to show the world, one drawing at a time.

As a result of having an established organization, Urban Sketchers hosts workshops around the world and organizes an annual international Urban Sketching Symposium in a different country each year; this year’s, the Fifth International Symposium is happening in Paraty, Brazil.

The movement is global and growing

In addition to special events, Regional Chapters exist on nearly every continent, hosting sketch crawls for local and regional sketchers, giving them a chance to meet, sketch and share in person on a more regular basis.

Another good thing happening now in the world of Urban Sketchers is our partnership with Moleskine. In May, Moleskine hosted their first City Stories event in New York City, where four Urban Sketchers spent the day sketching, offering learning sessions, and encouraging others to sketch.

Urban Sketchers and Moleskine are working together again tomorrow for City Stories in London, at Moleskine’s Covent Garden Store and London Graphic Centre, where Urban Sketchers Adebanji Alade, James Hobbs, Andrea Joseph and Olha Pryymak will be sketching the streets, the people, and the whole environment, and offering learning sessions.

More information about this event is available here, as well as the registration links for the learning sessions.

We will be sharing the event with hashtags #moleskinestories, #london, and #urbansketchers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Words: Elizabeth Alley

Elizabeth Alley is Executive Board Vice President and Events Director of Urban Sketchers