Musings of a Travel Illustrator

Travel has changed me to an extent that life seems more stress-free today (in the sense I have learn’t a little better to deal with stress). At one point I took everything and anything as a struggle – from the rude conversations of people, family and relationship problems, and the daily tussle between a full-time job and a Masters Program. It was after my return from a vacation to Malaysia and Egypt in 2010 that I yearned to go back; to explore more, to indulge in a conversation with the locals, to experience the hot and cold; basically I knew I wanted to conquer the world and I would rather have a mundane day in another city than mine.

It was a major decision to leave Abu Dhabi after spending over 25 years in the city, but the most I was looking forward to was a ‘change’. A change that would help me be a better person and a better daughter to my lovely parents, a change that called out my inner hopes to be an understanding wife. But most importantly I was looking forward to marry somebody who had a similar passion as me – Travel – my only fairy tale wish.  Its been a year and a half since this change and I have already added 11 countries in my list.

All being said and done, there was one problem – funding my own travels and a job that was flexible enough to let me travel. I started taking the blog more seriously with the intention of connecting the unknown dots to Travel and Art. I carried a pocket diary since the first time I traveled out of Abu Dhabi, I wrote and sketched secretly – just because I was not open about it friends of family. Effectively, on my first trip to India and Malaysia, I found so much to draw from the things I observed, the food I ate, and the architecture of random buildings that amused me. It wasn’t until recently I found that what I was doing all along was an ‘art’ by itself. Travel illustrations were already making a big mark in another world. Since I was just a newbie in the blogging industry at that point of time, I lost my chances of fine tuning the art of travel illustrations by learning from other experts.

Ladakh IllustrationOver the years, I had worked on many oil paintings out of which I listed one painting on Etsy, just few months back. But you see, the problem here is I did not know how to promote my art, from my Etsy shop apart from my social medias which are good in numbers in terms of followers but lacks in heavy interaction. However, this has not stopped me from polishing my art skills in various other genres. My travel drawing which was once just pencil sketches are now more lively and colorful.

After a year of serious work on my blog, I couldn’t be more happier than to start earning out of travel writing for various renowned travel websites; that came about in the mid 2014 (a fruitful year in this case). Because of this very reason, 2015 seems like a bright year for more travels and more work with my first approved sponsored stay in Bhutan this March. While I have figured many ways to meet the odds, a major task is to take the time for on-location sketches, say in a crowded market in Vietnam, especially when you have a travel partner; you don’t want him to be bored. Do you?

Two hard disks loaded with videos documented from places calls out for some love everyday, so with a few extra hours, these travel documentaries or trailers – complete with illustrations and writings should suffice the meaning of travel at a whole new level.

In the travel blogging world, there is a misconception the higher your followers, the better you’re doing. Increasing followers were least of my concerns but thinking of a concept for my next interesting content or an illustration was something I did focus on. That said, genuine readers are the ones who like to interact with you on your Twitter or Facebook page, while others do not reciprocate even if your post linger across their news feed a million times.

With very little blog traffic initially, you’ll tend to lose interest, especially when you’re surrounded by people who are bound and determined to criticize your work instead of encouraging you to do a better job. A way to remain motivated is to remember the only person who can help is you.

Do you agree? What are your opinions on telling a travel story through illustrations? Is it fun or boring? Share your comments below.

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  1. says: Anonymous

    Interesting story. I live in Qatar and am struggling to find magazines to buy any of my travel articles. Any suggestions or contacts I might pursue?

  2. Thanks for liking my recent post. Great to meet you virtually through this story. Look forward to staying in touch and reading more of your stories and seeing your art. Love the “Abstract Buddha” piece!

  3. I’m so glad you stopped by my blog as it led me to yours! Love this post, I can relate to loving travel, have not been to that many countries yet though! Thanks for sharing your story, congrats on doing what you love 🙂

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