Travel illustration

Drawing on location, especially abroad, is another example of reportage illustration work.

For this project I used a trip to London in March. This trip was a weekend break with a boat cruise along the Thames. On the actual journey I focused on sketching and did not take supporting photos to see just how much I could fill in from memory. Then what the lessons would be for future. Also we were travelling fast and I wanted to draw as much as possible. I then produced final images in Procreate later, using the sketches directly or combining several into one image.

2.5 There and Back Again: London Journey


Tourist material: Seaside and Railway posters

Here  travel illustration tends to be used as a way of promoting a place through tourist material and visitor guides and so can be less concerned with objective drawing. In Europe and North America the railway poster served as a way of presenting these destinations as desirable locations for trips and holidays. The posters were commissioned by train companies and were presented on train platforms and station buildings. Following the current illustrative and painting styles they present picturesque and idealised views of landscapes and landmarks, often with the inclusion of people enjoying themselves.

John Hassal: eg image of the Jolly Fisherman skipping along the sands in ‘Skegness is so Bracing’

Tom Purvis: bold use of flat colours

Us and them: ‘Exotic’ or anthropological illustration

The danger of any form of reportage representing other people, cultures and  places, is that it is framed from the perspective of difference. There is a tricky fine line between ‘cultural interest’ and racist stereotype.

Early travellers and image-makers often took on a voyeuristic and often disapproving tone. Images often make comparisons between different
peoples and are framed within the sense of ‘discovery’ of ‘Darkest Africa’, of the west exporting civilisation to dark and forgotten corners of the world for their own good. These images reflect that message back again, reinforcing the values of western culture.

The same traps exist when visually representing class, poverty or wealth, or in fact any area of life where differences are noticeable.

I am inspired particularly by the work of Dan Eldon with his multi-layered collages. I first came across Dan Eldon as part of my OCA Book Design course, and was struck by the impact of his combination of photographs, collage and text. I think combining different media to present different perspectives can be a powerful way of documenting both journeys and also social and political documentary.

Documentary photography

I did a lot of work and research on journeys for my OCA Landscape Photography course (not assessed). 



I also looked at other forms of travel photography:

Lee Friedlander’s fragmented images that strongly accentuate the distance between the viewer and the world outside the car.

Robert Frank’s journey across America and its much more engaged social commentary through juxtaposition of contradictory elements

Dana Lixenberg‘s much more long-term socially engaged studies.

Many of the issues highlighted there are also relevant for illustration – and are explored further in:

Assignment 4 From the Edge where I look at different ways of thinking about and then representing diaries

Assignment 5 Oromia: A Collaged Journey

I also looked at a number of You Tube video courses on sketching techniques:

Urban sketching: people

Urban sketching: watercolour

Urban sketching: approaches and materials

Urban Sketching: pen and ink