Is it WILD to bring paints, pens, collaging materials, glue and an exploding sketchbook with me on my travels when I can always just draw on an iPad? Of course! Absolutely no question. But unfortunately for suitcase (and my poor clothes every time there is a paint explosion yikessss) I have a true love for capturing the essence of a city as I experience it through my special messy sketchbook.
Hi Wanderers! Madeline here again, illustrator & founder of Wander Scarf. This post is all about my travel sketchbook- how it all started, why I love it and ultimately how it lead to Wander Scarf!
Unlike a creating on canvass where the whole world can see what you are working on a sketchbook is just for you. Doodle, paint & draw whatever you want because after you are done the page turns, the sketchbook closes and no one will ever see the work unless you want them to. For me that makes my sketchbook a free space to let go of judgment, self critique and perfectionism... so OF COURSE thats where my best work often happens!
The first time a stranger ever referred to me as an artist was on a train in Peru in 2012. I remember the encounter so vividly. He walked by my seat and glimpsed me drawing the image above and asked "are you an artist?" I stuttered. I said I draw in my sketchbook for fun- I'd never made money off my artwork so I could't officially call myself an artist. This kind stranger told me that work I was doing in my sketchbook made me an artist. It gave me a warm feeling in my chest. It was the kind of moment that you know immediately in your heart will be apart of your identity forever.
Fast forward to 2014 I attended Semester at Sea. There was a class specifically for travel drawing, so of course I took it! Although I had already been drawing in my travel sketchbook for years at this point this class pushed the boundaries of my imagination and redefined what my travel sketchbook could be. I started to experiment with different ways to represent my travels through how I used materials. Some places I visited I drew the city skyline like Gdansk, Poland. For others I drew specific places like The Elephant Room in Edinburg, Scotland. Others I skipped the architecture altogether and drew from a very specific memories like the song I was listening to in a car ride in Estonia. I started collaging, layering images and exploring mixing media.
When I paint I am creating in my sketchbook how that specific place made me feel through. Most of the time I draw cities but on special occasions I draw people too. One of the most special times in my life was the months I spent in Kathmandu, Nepal. I lived with the wonderful Koirala family with two other amazing artists Dan Lopes and Laura Lemna. We gained invaluable knowledge working at The Association for Craft Producers. I drew many of the places & people I met during my time there. Now these sketchbook pages hold memories that will forever mean the world to me.
I've taken my travel sketchbook with me on my Wanders ever since! Well not the same sketchbook... I now have a pile of travel sketchbooks going and I plan to keep it growing hehe.
How did these travel sketch book pages turn into Wander Scarf?
My sketchbooks are the best souvenirs I could possibly have from any trip. But a close second are the scarves I collected from everywhere I traveled. Not only was every scarf useful on each trip itself but also every time I wore it thereafter I had a living memory of my travels. Something as mundane as an errand to the grocery store becomes a day dreaming treat as I throw on my pink scarf from Nepal and bask in the beautiful memories it brings back.
Then it hit me! Instead of collecting random scarves from my travels I wanted to start collecting scarves with the cities I visit actually depicted on them. But sadly this didn't exist.. and when I finally found a scarf with an illustrated city scape of Paris it had none of the life or vibrance that reflected my experience.
I knew I could draw a more fresh interpretation of the city and print it on higher quality fabric myself... and Wander Scarf was born! Now not only do I get to relive my wandering memories in my sketchbooks, but I get to literally wear them wherever I go.
My goal with Wander Scarf is to merge the experience of reliving your past Wanders or looking forward to a destination you have never Wandered to before with functional fashion. Now you can wear everyday! We love to see you Wear you Wanders. You can make our day by sharing your #wandersinthewild with us on Instagram @wander_scarf :)