Monday, July 7, 2014

The K. I. S. S. Solution

A freebie cotton tote given to me by the salon where
I get my hair cut: the Holy Grail?
The more I think about my travel sketch bag issue, the simpler I want the solution to be. And I want the solution to be my everyday Rickshaw Bagworks Zero messenger bag – plus something else to take care of the part that doesn’t fit (travel essentials such as a water bottle and extra layer). If I use my everyday Rickshaw bag, I won’t have to organize a new bag and be confused by which dividers or pockets contain which items; everything will be as they always are, familiar and true. The “something else” that carries the travel extras shouldn’t be larger than necessary and should be easy to leave behind in the hotel room when not needed without having to reorganize. Ideally, its contents should be easily accessible at all times (in other words, not on my back).

What could possibly fill that bill?

Keep it simple, sketcher: A tote bag.

A simple tote, scrunched up in the bottom of my suitcase for shopping or dirty laundry, was what ended up being my default sketch bag in Europe last year after the bag I thought would be so perfect failed me. The unstructured tote allowed my sketch supplies to fall to the bottom in a giant heap, which drove me crazy, but otherwise it was surprisingly comfortable to carry. So how about if I carry all my sketch supplies in my usual Rickshaw – and use the tote only for the extras? When I don’t need the extras, I can simply leave the tote behind – no reorganizing necessary. Heck, if it’s in rags by the end of the trip, I could toss it.

Like most people, I have my choice of a dozen totes right in my closet. For a dry run, I chose a basic white muslin one (no black hole for things to get lost) that I often take to farmers markets to carry produce while I sketch – lightweight, washable, scrunchable, packable, ubiquitous. It’s small enough that I can reach the bottom easily without having to dig. And since all it will carry is a water bottle, hat, snacks and sweater, even if they fall into a heap at the bottom, the items are easy to identify by touch.

Holding my sketch supplies is my faithful, everyday Rickshaw
Zero messenger bag worn cross-body on the other side.
I’ve taken the tote on three dry runs recently – to the Queen Anne sketchout, to the Tacoma sketchout and yesterday to Volunteer Park. I put everything in it that I’d ordinarily need when I travel, even if I didn’t need them at those locations (since I had my car with me) because I wanted to test the tote fairly. There was even room for my sketch stool (which I won’t be taking to Brazil), but not much else. Even with my Rickshaw carried cross-body on the other side, the tote was comfortable to carry (as long as I don’t overstuff it with nonessentials).

The K. I. S. S. solution is working perfectly.

Is it the Holy Grail? I’ve been disappointed often enough by the “perfect” solution not to get overly excited; it’s just another idea. But it definitely holds promise. Stay tuned.

Edited 7/14/14: See the resolution to my sketch bag issue!


  1. Great!!! I love reading your thoughts!!!
    I use a similiar concept- a lightwieght bag for my extra art stuff (waterbottle, umbrella, stool, hat etc) Something that I drop to the ground as much as I can so not on my shoulder. Mine is very dirty now - I am looking for a waterproof version with large straps!

  2. Sounds like a good plan. It is so hard to find a bag that does everything. The tote bag sounds like a good idea. I always bring one along when I travel since they are so flat and don't take up any space. They are good if you got to the grocery store or the wine shop while you're away too.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...