Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Urban Sketchers Manifesto - final draft

USk founder Gabi Campanario has just posted his final draft manifesto for Urban Sketchers on the blog. His intention is to have a clear statement of purpose of what the main Urban Sketchers blog and the new USk city blogs and the the Flickr group should be about.

I've reproduced it below.
Urban Sketchers Manifesto
  1. We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  3. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  4. We are truthful to the scenes we witness. We don't exaggerate reality or caricaturize people.
  5. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  6. We support each other and draw together.
  7. We share our drawings online.
  8. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
I like it.

It seems to me to capture the essence of people who sketch their surroundings:
  • that we do it real time (and not from photos),
  • that we make a record (rather than create a product),
  • that we are all individual with own unqiue perspective and styles (and we don't copy other people) and
  • that we use whatever media works for us (no need to do the same thing as somebody else)
  • that we share our sketches online!
I guess the only bit that doesn't feel quite right is the community bit. That's because urban sketchers has grown so very big so very fast. I'm not sure I feel part of a community in the same way that others do - and I think that has influenced how often I now post on the blog

It's certainly a lesson I learned and have tried to put to good use when creating Sketchercise. In Sketchercise, we've decided that want to start small and only grow slowly. We need enough people to make it work - but the idea was to have a real community group for people who want to exercise and sketch. To my mind fast growth can cause all sorts of issues and problems and slower and more organic growth can work much better in maintaining community participation the long run.

After all - small is beautiful - and I think quite a lot of us would like to be a little bit smaller!

PS Spot a certain well known sketcher from Hertfordshire in the little picture!

Making a Mark reviews......


  1. Small is good, and so is organic growth. I don't/can't Sketchercise because of my arthritis, but I know what you mean. I AM pleased with the way my own group blog of nature sketchers at http://naturesketchers.blogspot.com/is growing, one correspondent at a time. I think we've learned a lot about each part of the world...it DOES begin to feel like a global community.

  2. thanks for the post Katherine, i'm glad you like the manifesto! i don't mind the size of the group, i think the more people the better, the world is too big and there's a lot left to be sketched, we have a lot of work ahead of us, especially finding artists from South America, Africa and other parts of the world that are underrepresented both on the blog and on the Flickr group. But I know what you're saying, the community feel can get lost by the sheer size. it's something to keep in mind. cheers! gabi

  3. hi Catherine I really likedGabi'sidea of a manifesto and found your own comments very good. I like the real time instead of copying from... about Usk being big I know what you mean sometimes I go - andwho is this one - at the same time its great to see such different styles and techniques in a common place. When I visited Portugal Imet quite a few sketchers all because of Usk and that really made it feel like we were part of a small community


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