Urban Sketching is a project launched in Seattle by journalist and illustrator Gabriel Campanario in 2007. “Urban Sketchers” are drawing what they see at the moment.
They tell their own stories by drawing their living areas, streets, cafes, and what they see from their windows or the cities they travel. They always carry practical drawing materials with them. Campanario, who established an online network, decided to bring these sketchers together. Today, there are 3 thousand 500 illustrators connected to this formation, which is realized in 220 different cities of the world. The number of people interested in this formation has already passed hundreds of thousands… As Raillife, we got together with Urban Sketchers İstanbul, as the Turkey division of the formation, in Sirkeci Terminal, İstanbul.
The average number of the sketchers team members in İstanbul is 40
Urban Sketchers İstanbul was founded in August 2017 under the coordination of Talya Yücesan Öcal and Ahmet Faruk Çetin. Ahmet Faruk Çetin, who works as a survey engineer, is a name who draws lots of illustrations during the survey works of historical buildings due to his profession. During his years as a student, Çetin learned that Urban Sketchers was a development that realized his dream project of drawing where ever it was possible and he got together with like-minded people who also thought that İstanbul was a place to draw. Talya Yücesan Öcal, who stands out as the other coordinator of the project, serves as a marketing manager in the iron and steel sector. Öcal, who created the Tişörtart brand that he designed as hand-painted products in 2015, said, “So the painting started to occupy a bigger place in my life. My desire to have my enthusiasm for drawing to be more interactive, more in life, and more intertwined with people directed my way towards Urban Sketchers İstanbul. As Urban Sketchers İstanbul, we have been quite active in 2018. In the structure, which is based on voluntariness, the number of our regular illustrator team members plus our core team members that manage subjects such as organization, communication, and project development is an average of 40. We have a dynamic and enthusiastic team that grows day by day. By this time, our paths were crossed with 100 different illustrators.”
Sketches were made in 50 different locations
Talya Yücesan Öcal, who expressed that the members of the team came from many different backgrounds and age groups, continued: “While this diversity feeds us, the social network we created develops the vision of the team. Normally people whose paths otherwise would never collide come together with the common interest of drawing. We also closely follow the teams abroad. The İstanbul team is one of the youngest and most active teams in the world. The mission of Urban Sketchers is to raise the artistic, story-telling and educational value of drawing on the spot, to increase the practice of drawing on the spot, and to connect the people who are drawing where they live and travel. We are both city and art lovers. Our city, which is getting more crowded with each passing day, is constantly changing. We are trying to record the values of our city while we are witnessing this change. Our aim is not to depict architectural work. What kind of an environment was surrounding it at the time it was built, what was going on around it, how was it connected with the city and life? We want to reflect all this, we want to tell the story of that moment. Our ultimate goal is to show İstanbul all over the world with our drawings while preserving the values of our city, to attract everyone who is interested in drawing and to encourage them. In 2018, we had more than 33 meetings and reached 100 drawers. We made sketches in 50 different locations in our city. We hosted over 10 foreign sketchers.”
Meetings are on Sundays
Ahmet Faruk Çetin stated that it was enough to want to sketch on the spot to be included in Urban Sketchers İstanbul and said, “Sketchers from every level can join us. We do not have performance criteria. We support them to create a story on their own the way they see it. During the meeting, it is necessary to be enduring to difficult weather conditions, sometimes to hunger, to uncomfortable drawing areas, sometimes to the intense interest of people, and perhaps to plenty of walking. We sketch according to the manifesto determined by the central structure. When we get to the meeting point, everyone starts to identify the frame he or she wants to draw. Dozens of different drawings can be drawn from the same point. Our greatest inspiration is to be intertwined with the streets, the people and the life that revolves around us. A building that we don’t pay attention, although we must have passed many times in front of it, can tell us many things with its details. It is motivating us to stop in the fast-flow of life, to spare time for the city, to perceive it from every angle and to witness its current situation. By creating our individual style, we aim to tell the story of the moment to the whole world through our drawings. We organize drawing meetings on weekends, usually on Sundays, twice a month. We sketch from 2-3 different angles during our meetings which last about 4-5 hours. We can meet in historical places, museums, parks, or squares of neighborhoods.”
Target: Increase the global impression of İstanbul
Coordinators of Urban Sketchers İstanbul Talya Yücesan Öcal and Ahmet Faruk Çetin, who stated that they aim to add more sketchers to the structure in 2019 and beyond, said they want to improve their cooperation with the museums and enlarge their archives. The duo who targets to increase the brand awareness of Urban Sketchers İstanbul in the global arena and to become one of the first cities to come to mind in the subject of sketching on-the-spot plans to attract more foreign sketchers to İstanbul and sign under a mini-exhibition in 2019. Talya Yücesan Öcal said that the Urban Sketching Symposium is organized every year in a different city determined by the center and continued: “More than 500 illustrators from all over the world gather in that city, conducting a nourishing, educational and impressive symposium that lasts about 3-4 days through events such as sketching walks and workshops. Why not İstanbul, the most beautiful city in the world? With this dream, we hold tight to our work. In addition, we want to identify the priority areas within the scope of protection of the cultural heritage of İstanbul and to create an inventory book that contains our drawings.