Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's a "Sketchpacker"?

What's a "Sketchpacker"?
You've heard of backpacking, and maybe also flashpacking. Well, a "sketchpacker" is a term I've coined for someone who travels and goes around sketching, or recording his experiences with sketches in a sketchbook (as opposed to just writing or photography). You don't need to have a bigger budget (like a flashpacker), neither do you have to be on a shoestring like most backpackers. All you need is a sketchbook and drawing tools and you're ready to go!

Who Can Be A Sketchpacker?
Anybody! Unless you're visually impaired or have certain physical disabilities, you shouldn't have too much difficulty being a sketchpacker. I have friends who take paraplegics on sketchwalks and teach them painting, and they do great work using their teeth while in their wheelchairs!

What If I Can't Draw?
In the words of Gusteau from Ratatouille, "Anyone can cook!" Well, in our context, anyone can draw! Yes, anyone. The trouble is most of us forget how to when we grow up, but it's still there.

This doesn't mean everyone can be a Leonardo or Rembrandt, or even Picasso (believe it or not, that guy could really draw, and not just abstract art!). Drawing and drawing well are two different things, just like cooking. But if you don't try, you'll never know how well you can draw; and if you don't keep at it, there's no way to get better at it. Leonardo didn't become what he was overnight. It took loads of practice. The question is not so much whether you can draw. It's really whether you want to or like to draw.

Sketching is really quite different from, say, being a painter or fine artist. Sketches are meant to be quicker, rougher, and more personal. It's more a record of our personal experience, interpreted into visual form. A lot of the time it's not for public exhibition. It's more like journaling. I'll talk more about this in a future post on what sketchpacking is.

How is being a Sketchpacker different from being an Urban Sketcher?
Not a lot, really. The difference is in the word "Urban". The Urban Sketchers group has a specific manifesto that is more focused on drawing urban scenes on-location. Skechpackers don't have these restrictions in content. It is a more generic term. Nevertheless, since sketchpacking is about experiencing a place, sketches are done more on location (but not always necessarily so) as you record your experiences and impressions as you travel.

How is Sketchpacking different from sketch journaling?
Not a lot either. What is different is the content. While casual sketching or sketch journaling can be a record of a variety of inspirations that come our way or just keeping a sketch diary, sketchpacking is focused more on the experiences and impressions of a location as we travel. Some inspiration from the place we are visiting may find our way into our sketchbooks, but they still revolve around the theme of the place in which we are visiting.

What does it take to be a Sketchpacker?
Well, we'll leave the details to the next post, but here's something in brief. Besides a sketchbook, a pencil and a pencil sharpener (or penknife, if you like. You don't need an eraser, really), you just need to have the desire to draw. As G. K. Chesterton once said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." Everybody starts off bad. It's those who keep at it who get better. So grab your sketchbook and pencil and get out there and start drawing!

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