Find out how to bring a destination to life through travel illustration and the top artists to inspire your work
Travel. There’s nothing quite like it. The chance to experience new sights, sounds, and smells, to wander off the beaten track and make new discoveries, or simply kick back and relax for a week on a sun-drenched beach.
When we imagine the far-flung places we’d like to visit, reminisce about past adventures, or indeed, advertise a location to others, we turn to photos as the most powerful medium to capture the essence of a place.
But there is another, equally effective and arguably more creative way to bring a destination to life: travel illustration.
Alex Green (@algreen_1) has been an illustrator for over 25 years and specializes in the art of travel illustration. He has worked in many areas including design, fashion, editorial, murals, websites, and live events, with a varied and enviable list of clients including Airbnb, the BBC, Emirates Airlines, Pfizer, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and Oxfam.
In his Domestika course, he demonstrates how to create travel illustrations that have a sense of place and atmosphere from photographic references of a location, and explains how to apply personal experiences to your illustrations to create pieces with your own vision and interpretation.
What is travel illustration?
Travel illustration is simply the art of drawing a place instead of photographing it. You can use a photo as a reference point, draw inspirational settings in real time as you travel, or recall them from memory.
The aim is not necessarily to copy the location exactly as you see it, but to give it your own interpretation and tell a story by focusing on conveying a particular emotion, theme, or atmosphere.
What are the benefits of travel illustration?
Aside from being a great way to practice your creative skills, illustrating a place allows for more freedom of expression and interpretation, giving you the opportunity to explore the limits of your imagination for a truly unique and personalized result.
It may require more time and patience to complete, but illustration also allows you to really connect with a place, bringing it to life through your drawings and recapturing those precious moments you spent there.
10 Artists to Inspire Your Travel Illustration Pieces
Although using your own photos as a point of departure usually means you have a greater connection with your reference, there is no reason why you can’t choose other images of locations you would like to visit. They could be photographs taken by someone else, or something you have found on the internet, as long as they spark your imagination.
Of course, all artists look to other artists for inspiration and Alex is no different. In this Domestika blog, he shares with us the top 10 artists who inspire his work, providing an invaluable tool that can help you begin thinking about how to develop your style, techniques, and give you ideas for your illustrations.
Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist, printmaker, and painter who lived from 1760 to 1849. He is most recognized for his woodblock print series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, made in response to a domestic travel boom in Japan.
From this collection, one piece in particular stood out among the rest. The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is arguably the most iconic piece of work in Japanese art, and went on to inspire many 19th-century European painters.
The Paris-based illustrator and director has had his work featured in Air France Magazine, Revue XXI, and Le Monde. His illustrations have a distinctly cinematic quality, perhaps as a result of his background making short films.
Perhaps the most interesting element of his work is that his characters have no facial features, although he is still able to convey depth and emotion through his use of color and negative space.
The freelance illustrator studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Vilnius, before working in advertisement, animation and graphic design, with clients including the Royal Mail, The Independent, Penguin Random House.
His retro style, with soft colors and lines, lend him his unique style.
Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, graphic designer, and children’s book author most known for his Sunday Sketches, quirky and humorous illustrations that take everyday objects and turn them into something unexpected.
This London-based cartoonist, illustrator, and printmaker has clients including Penguin Books, Faber, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
His skill lies in taking the mundane and everyday and turning them into works of art, using simple shapes and a limited color palette.
If you enjoyed this references and want to know more about travel illustration, don't miss Alex Green's course Travel Illustration: Recreate your favorite place and learn digital illustration techniques with a splash of acrylic paint to create artwork inspired by a photograph of a place you love.
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