Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ten Years of Community

11/11/17 King Street Station's tower sketched over my
Global 24-Hour Sketchwalk badge
Urban sketching – the act of going out to sketch in my neighborhood or wherever I travel – tends to be a solo activity for me. It’s become such an integral part of my day-to-day life that, more often than not, I sketch whenever I’m out on an errand or commuting. It’s like writing in my diary – a reminder of my day with a sketch instead of words. But Urban Sketchers, the worldwide community, is about much more than that. Yesterday afternoon at King Street Station and online during the prior 20+ hours, I was once again reminded of what it means to me to be part of that community.

Ten years ago this month, Gabi Campanario tapped an icon on Flickr to create a new image group and started inviting sketchers around the globe to add their sketches to the group. That was how Urban Sketchers began – an online community. Very soon it evolved into local groups meeting in person to sketch together, and eventually sketchers began gathering annually in one place for an international symposium. But the heart and soul of Urban Sketchers has always been local groups and individuals sharing in person and online. The 24 hours of Nov. 11 were a visual representation of that worldwide heart and soul, and I was thrilled to be part of it.

11/11/17 One of King Street Station's globe lamps and Smith Tower.
Beginning in New Zealand and ending in Hawaii, local groups in each time zone began posting photos of their part of the Urban Sketchers Global 24-Hour Sketchwalk on Instagram. Volunteer social media organizers in each time zone uploaded those images to the global Urban Sketchers Instagram account, and anyone following the account or searching the event’s hashtag saw a continual stream of sketchers and their work throughout the day.

I started viewing Instagram on Friday around the time New Zealand began posting, and then Asia, and it really felt like I was attending a worldwide party! In fact, I was restless to get the party started in Seattle – but I’d have to wait until Saturday afternoon for that!

It was worth the wait. We all agreed that Seattle USk had a record-breaking turnout, including some new members and several members who hadn’t attended in quite a while but wanted to be part of this special event. With sketchers sitting quietly on the benches of King Street Station’s waiting area, looking down on the waiting area from the upper level, or braving the cold drizzle outdoors, it didn’t look like a party, but it felt like one in the best possible way: people with a common passion coming together to enjoy their favorite activity.
11/11/17 Passengers waiting for their train.

When I first joined Urban Sketchers in May 2012, I was a nervous introvert who had feelings of doubt and unease as I left the house for my first outing to Magnuson Park. The group I found there was so friendly and happy that I got over my doubts immediately. I had found my community, my tribe.

Happy 10th anniversary, Urban Sketchers! I’m honored and proud to be a member.

To see images from around the globe, search the hashtag #USkGlobal24hrSketchwalk. USk Seattle’s images can be found with the hashtag #uskseattle.

Initial meet-up: Blank sketchbook pages ready!

Thank you, Gabi, for clicking that Flickr icon!
I got a sore neck sketching the tower!

Halfway through the sketchwalk, we took a group photo to catch as many participants as possible.


Sue in a precarious position.


April, our Instagram manager, finally gets to sit for a sketch!


Michele, Gabi, Tina and Kate

Final end-of-sketchwalk photo

11/11/17 Post-sketchwalk drink & draw at Elysian Fields brew pub

Ujjwal and her husband, Mel and Gabi


  1. It is so great that there is such a feeling of community among urban sketchers, isn't it? Looks like you had a great turnout with lots of great results. We had a good turnout despite our frigid weather. It was fun, but after a few hours I was grateful to be indoors.

    1. I had a ball! I was watching NY on Instagram and saw you with your gloves on. . . brrr!

  2. Who'd have thought that a finger move could touch so many people's life? Wish I were there but I sketched with USK Seattle in my heart :D

    1. Indeed, who knew! Happy that you were with us, Ching!

  3. My local group joined with another group to draw the trees along a road that were there to commemorate those who died in WW1. As it was Remembrance Day this was a stunning tribute to those who served in conflicts since 1914. I couldn't go and as the numbers were limited anyway didn't want to take the place of a better artist (just a beginner me, and there's so much I need to learn) but the posts on the FB site look wonderful. 100 trees. 100 plus artists. Not only commemorating Urban Sketching but also the service & sacrifice of others.

    On a more trivial point - drawing a very tall tower. I think I'd take a photo and sketch the detail from that having got the basics down in situ. Or is that cheating? I suspect so. :)

    1. That's a very timely and appropriate sketch crawl location/subject -- I'll go look for those images online! Yes, sketching from a photo would be cheating according to the manifesto! ;-) But this sketch took me only about 10 minutes, so my neck recovered. ;-)

    2. Even more poignant as the trees are under threat. Here's a link to the story.

    3. Thanks so much for the link, Jan -- very cool that the project got media coverage. It would be a shame to see those trees go.


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