Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review: An Illustrated Journey

7/2/12 water-soluble ink, Hand Book journal
Danny Gregory’s eagerly awaited book, An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration from the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers, came out a few weeks ago, and after all the anticipation, it does not disappoint. The book is a rich treasury of travel sketches and personal profiles of many inspiring artists.
Very similar in format to Gregory’s 2008 book, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, his latest book profiles 43 travel journal keepers from many countries. Each artist has written a first-person account of his or her background in art and travel, how travel sketching is inspired, and techniques and tools used. Photos of some artists are included, showing them sketching on location. It is particularly illuminating to see the common threads among nearly all the artists – that drawing what they see while traveling enriches their travel experiences, bridges gaps in understanding about other cultures, and evokes memories like no photographs can. It’s clear that sketching and traveling have become integrated creative processes for these artists: Seeing new places motivates drawing, and drawing motivates observing more carefully the new places they experience.
The meat of the book is a beautiful collection of large, full-color reproductions of art from the artists’ travel sketchbooks. These unique, spontaneous views of the world make me want to hop on a plane right now to fill my own sketchbook with the places I visit.
Most of the artists included – Miguel “Freekhand” Herranz, Nina Johansson, Cathy Johnson, Tommy Kane, Lapin, Veronica Lawlor and Liz Steel, to name a few – are well-known in the blogosphere of the urban sketching/on-location drawing community. A few are less-known discoveries with fresh, surprising perspectives.
In fact, if I have any complaints about this beautiful book, it is a tiny one: I wish it had included more travelers who are not professional artists, illustrators or designers, and who are perhaps less well-known. Almost every participant either has an art degree or makes a living using their artistic skills. I have seen online the amazing on-location sketches of so many people who work at “regular” jobs and do not have any kind of art background. I would have loved to see more of them included. Better yet, a whole volume devoted to the on-location work of non-professional artists would be equally inspiring as this one. How about it, Danny?
(The sketch above, made at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, is from my own travel journal during a trip to the Boston area last July.)
(This book review also appears on

1 comment:

  1. I agree and was thinking that as I read it. I just finished it the night before leaving for my own trip.

    I was amused that so many of them said they were still looking for the "perfect sketchbook". My unofficial record is that most were using Moleskine, Stillman & Birn, or "my own bound sketchbook".



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