Reportage news: Lydia Wood, John Donohue, Stan Mack, ‘Sketchbook Reveal’ by James Hobbs, Calendar

Drawing London, one pub at a time

Photo courtesy of Lydia Wood

There is something special about pubs and sketching.

Back in the early 2000s, pub crawls inspired Italian storyboard artist Enrico Casarosa to start World Wide Sketch Crawl, a precursor of Urban Sketchers.

Pubs are the subject of choice for Lydia Wood, an artist who’s on a quest to draw every pub in London. On the spot!

I recently asked Wood a few questions:

Why pubs?

“My personal enjoyment and affection for pubs and my time spent in them throughout my youth to now has steered a lot of the inspiration for this project. As well as them being historically, culturally and architecturally significant, I think it’s my own attachment to pubs that makes this project both celebratory and exploratory. Whilst I have spent time in incredible pubs all over the UK, I was born in and continue to live in London, so it felt like a natural parameter for my project and a chance to showcase the diverse array of pubs across the city.”

Photo courtesy of Lydia Wood

Why on the spot?

“Drawing a pub on the spot is a totally different experience from drawing a pub in my studio using photographs and draft sketches. It is not only a chance to add in unexpected details on the day — e.g. a persistent pigeon nested on the roof, a couple of punters sat outside for hours, or simply the kegs lined up outside waiting to be collected. Most importantly for me it’s a chance to connect with the pub and its people. A way to chat to locals who stop and inspect the work and offer knowledge on the pub and the area — a unique insight I couldn’t get from Google. These exchanges of information and local stories enrich the project and keep it interesting and ever changing for me.”

Photo courtesy of Lydia Wood

Wood’s ambitious project has garnered a lot of press. She’s been featured in major news outlets such as the BBC and The Independent. In 2021, she told Time Out magazine that the gig allowed her to quit her job teaching art to children to draw pubs full time. She’s already drawn more than 300 and aspires to immortalize the more than 3,000 that are spread across the city.

I’d say cheers to that!

Drawing New York and beyond, one restaurant at a time

Photo by Gus Powell

Sketching a single theme to exhaustion, like Lydia Wood is doing in London with pubs, is a good strategy to build a body of work, make a name for yourself and even make a living.

In New York, John Donohuea former journalist turned full-time sketcher, has been on a mission to draw every restaurant in his own backyard and other world-class cities since 2017.

With three books of restaurant drawings under his belt, all of them published by mainstream art book publisher Abrams, Donohue bills himself as “the artist drawing all the restaurants in NYC, Paris and beyond.”

Donohue has drawn about 1,100 restaurants so far and has another 400 drawings just waiting to be finished with a touch of color, he told me when I caught up with him by phone.

This is the first drawing Donohue posted on his “All The Restaurants” website back in January 2017.

Why draw restaurants?

Donohue is also the author of “Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers who Cook for Their Families.” The idea of drawing restaurants developed from his love of food, he said. “I’ve always been involved in food. I cook for my family … The subject is of interest to me.”

And why on the spot?

The experience of drawing on location can’t be replicated when you are sketching from a photograph, Donohue said. “I draw in ink, from life, without corrections, with no under-drawing. That is what is exciting for me,” he said.


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The New York Times ran a great article by Donohue in 2020, The Big Impact of a Small Hobby (gifted link), where he credits drawing for helping him survive job loss and the coronavirus pandemic. It’s worth a read!

“By the time I’m done with a sketch, it is as if I’m a new man. This is partly because drawing has taught me to make the most of my mistakes. I work in ink, from life. It is as if every line is already out of place from the start. It is oddly liberating, as I have learned to forgive myself. I draw not for the result but for the process, and fortunately I’ve been doing it long enough that the results are pleasing.”

Stan Mack’s real life funnies


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A pioneer of documentary cartoons, Stan Mack chronicled everyday life in New York in his Village Voice comic strip “Real Life Funnies” from 1974 to 1995. A compilation of his work has been edited by Fantagraphics and is now available for pre-order.

I was not familiar with Mack’s work and it’s been a delight to explore his archives on Instagram, as well as his website.

Sketchbook Reveal

Do you love sketchbooks? Then you are going to love “Sketchbook Reveal,” a groundbreaking art book where artist and author James Hobbs opens up seven beloved volumes from his collection and analyzes their raw, unedited contents in a series of insightful essays.

Dramatic sketches of a beach bonfire lighting up and being extinguished by the tide fill the pages of a spiral-bound notebook he used as an art student. The rolling hills of the English countryside in a recent hardbound sketchbook were drawn as he traveled by train to see his ailing father.

Sketchbook Reveal” is the latest book from @sketcherpress, the imprint I launched in 2022 to amplify the work of urban sketchers and reportage illustrators.

As a token of appreciation for reading and supporting On the Spot, you can pre-order the book before July 1 with the coupon code REVEAL for a 10 percent discount and free shipping within the U.S.



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Summer break

On the Spot is going on hiatus for the summer. The newsletter will be back in early September if not earlier! Thanks for being here and for your continued support.

Gabriel Campanario
Gabriel Campanario

Founder of Urban Sketchers, publisher at Sketcher Press and former columnist at The Seattle Times

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