A special guest post by Elizabeth Barelli:
Travel being one of my passions, I usually try to spend a lot of time before a trip preparing my itinerary and researching anything I can about the new territory. But I also try to document as much as possible during the trip. That way, I can always look back at some of my most random observations.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Japan, a place I had long been fantasizing about for all the visual beauty and refinement it is famous for. Once there, I inevitably took thousands of photos on my digital camera, but also little pieces of film, overused and marked maps, notes in my journal and a few little drawings. I always travel with a black Moleskin hardcover book—as cliché as it sounds—and a few pencils (and ideally a pack of watercolors) to be able to sketch and doodle.
Drawing is something that I have always enjoyed. I dropped it for a long time, but then I realized that fifteen minutes of practice every day goes a long way, especially when traveling. Traveling is an opportunity to discover, learn and get inspired, and I couldn’t really enjoy it without any creative outlet to document it. However, I will not lie: traveling with a couple cameras, lenses, notebooks, art supplies, and the usual traveling items, can easily get old, especially if you are planning to move around between cities a bit and you want to have your supplies handy for an improvised session. This is an issue I’m still figuring out! I will usually take a photo of my sketch with my phone to make sure it does not get lost, and have a digital version of it saved into a photo editing app has been working pretty well. But keeping my pencils and colors in shape, while carrying them around everywhere has been difficult.
I always travel with a black Moleskin hardcover book—as cliché as it sounds—and a few pencils (and ideally a pack of watercolors) to be able to sketch and doodle.
This year, I tried drawing on a digital tablet for the first time, and it changed my world. Creative software is getting so incredibly powerful and user-friendly, and I was blown away by the new possibilities I had to create, edit, color, re-use, assemble—even animate! All I needed was the tablet, the stylus, and sometimes power to recharge. I used an iPad Pro, which, I acknowledge, has a much more significant cost than a paper notebook, but I realized that it completely turned around my creative process. Every “in between” moment—in the Shinkansen, hotels, taking a break at a café—became an exciting moment to quickly draw and illustrate one thing I wanted to remember for the day.
Illustrations became a new medium I wanted to add to my documentation with a few funny notes, quotes or explanation that will enrich my memories of the trip. Being a big fan of illustrators and designers such as Wendy McNaughton, Tallulah Fontaine, Malika Favre, or Jean Jullien (some of my favorite Instagram accounts), it was a little challenge to try to develop a short series of drawings.
This year, I tried drawing on a digital tablet for the first time, and it changed my world.
Some of my favorite themes to illustrate were the way people dressed, the food, or even animals. Obviously those subjects would be so different depending on your trip or the place from where you draw. Adding those collected memories into a travel book, including photos and notes is adding a new medium to your storytelling.
What about you? Do you have anything special you like to add to your travel books? What is your creative process while traveling? Do you have any tips or habits to continue your practice on the go? Let us know in the comments below.