Since graduating university in 2013 it became more and more apparent to me that I was struggling to stay motivated with personal drawing. Without the daily stimulation of other creative people, the monotony of the 9 to 5 work day and the lack of precious spare time, I let myself slip.

Thankfully as a part of the job I’ve had for the last two years in London I have had the amazing opportunity to illustrate for a living. I’ve been able to practice new techniques, learn new skills and keep artistically active. But the day-to-day observational practice can be hard to squeeze into my routine. Combined with a creative rut which lasted for over a year I found it incredibly hard to get back into drawing. I would try to hype myself up with the purchase of a shiny new hardback sketchbook, but often I found the blank white pages intimidating – I was scared to ruin it with bad drawings.

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– Observational sketch in Greenwich, London 2016

Occasionally I have managed to find some time on the odd weekend to stroll around, sketchbook in hand, and hunt for my subject matter. My usual materials – a watercolour set, water brush-pen, mechanical pencil and fine liner ink pen – spend most of their time in the bottom of my bag, and I get excited when I finally have the chance to put them to use.

Having made the decision to travel at the end of this year it has occurred to me that this will be an amazing opportunity to document my adventures through my drawings. I was recently introduced to a fantastic series of travelogue books by Guy Delisle, a French-Canadian animator and illustrator who turned his travel experiences into comics. So far I have only read the first in the series documenting his time in Shenzhen, China, but I am completely hooked.

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– ‘Shenzhen – A Travelogue From China’ and ‘Pyongyang – A Journey In North Korea’ by Guy Delisle

It’s amazing that what Guy Delisle views to be completely monotonous events, annotated with his own opinions and observations, are so intriguing to read. His ability to take inspiration from all his external experiences, combined with his internal monologue to create a foreigner’s perspective is truly fascinating, and depicts an honest representation of the places he visits and the cultures he encounters.

I find his approach admirable, the illustration style of the first comic is not particularly complex or detailed but tells his story perfectly. It has definitely inspired me to open my eyes more to the world around me, and draw more of what I see, socially rather than physically. It has also spurred me onto reading more comic and graphic based literature to see how others are depicting how they see their lives and their world.

With my leap out of full-time employment, I can’t wait to have a chance to progress with my observational drawing when visiting new places, and pursue more freelance opportunities to help me further expand my abilities.

My take away is this: If you are struggling to motivate yourself look at what inspires other people – you might find inspiration in places you never thought to look previously.



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