Nós e os Cadernos 2

In the summer of 2017, Tiago Cruz, researcher at CIAC, invited ten sketchbook lovers to Esposende, for a weekend of talks and sketchwalks in the Minho shores, in an event titled Nós e os Cadernos 2. I was honored to be included in the rooster of speakers, alongside Alexandra Belo, António Jorge Gonçalves, Eduardo Salavisa, Manuel João Ramos, Manuel San Payo, Marco Costa, Rosário Félix and Vítor Mingacho.

The event, supported by the Esposende Municipality, was all about the sketchbook – this magical object that artists, illustrators, architects, social scientists and many others use regularly. Some use it for practice, others as a study journal or as a final piece of art, some may use it instead of a confession booth or therapist’s couch, some even use it merely out of comfort and habit.

Regardless of individual perspectives on it, the sketchbook is a fundamental object for many people, and serious research studies about it are scarce. Tiago strives to turn it into a valuable object of research, and Nós e os Cadernos is the annual manifestation of that effort. The talks of the speakers during the event were just now published in ebook which can be downloaded here for free (Portuguese only).

Action-to-action transition and aspect-to-aspect transition, according to Scott McLoud (1993)
Action-to-action transition and aspect-to-aspect transition, according to Scott McCloud (1993)

My own talk – Caneta Cinematográfica – had to do about the similarities of experiencing a sketchbook and cinema, and was heavily inspired in Nerdwriter‘s excellent video essay Ghost in the Shell: Identity in Space.

Stills of the boat scene in Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Stills of the boat scene in Ghost in the Shell (1995)

No verão de 2017, o Tiago Cruz, investigador no CIAC, convidou dez amantes de diários gráficos a Esposende, para um fim-de-semana de palestras e saídas de desenho no litoral Minhoto, a que chamou Nós e os Cadernos 2. Tive a honra de ser incluído no plantel de palestrantes, ao lado de Alexandra Belo, António Jorge Gonçalves, Eduardo Salavisa, Manuel João Ramos, Manuel San Payo, Marco Costa, Rosário Félix e Vítor Mingacho.

O evento, apoiado pelo município de Esposende, foi inteiramente dedicado aos diários gráficos – esse objecto mágico que artistas, ilustradores, arquitectos, cientistas sociais e muitos outros profissionais ou amadores usam regularmente. Alguns usam-no para praticar, outros como um caderno de campo ou ainda como uma peça de arte final, pode ser usado como confessionário ou sofá de terapeuta, ou ainda por hábito ou conforto.

Independentemente das abordagens individuais, o diário gráfico é um objecto fundamental para muitos, e ainda são parcas as investigações sérias sobre o assunto. O Tiago faz por torná-lo um tema de investigação válido, e o Nós e os Cadernos é a manifestação anual desse esforço. As palestras do evento estão agora publicadas num ebook que pode ser descarregado gratuitamente aqui.

A minha palestra – Caneta Cinematográfica – tem a ver com os paralelismos na experimentação de um diário gráfico e de cinema, e foi fortemente inspirado no excelente ensaio em video Ghost in the Shell: Identity in Space, de Nerdwriter.

Poland sketches #9 Jewish Quarter

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“The visit to the New Jewish Cemetery, deep in the heart of the Kazimierz district had, ironically, wiped away the specter of death. A peaceful chaos of tombstones blended with nature. For many minutes, we were alone in the dead quiet alleyways, until the arrival of a small horde of Israeli orthodox jews, teenagers, clumsy, euphoric with their trip down history lane.”

cemetery, Krakow, Poland

They were actually looking for the tombstone I had chosen as a foreground to my sketch. As a gentile, I feared a theological clash, so I wandered away as the horde of teens, lead by an older rabbi, bombarded the sights and several tombstones with flashes from digital cameras and smartphones. Once upon their objective, it was prayer and picture galore! Not since visiting Jim Morrison’s grave had I seen such a devotion and touristic enthusiasm for a tombstone. Later I found the grave belonged to a certain Rabbi Akiva Kornitzer, born in the Netherlands in the 19th century, who was Chief Rabbi of Krakow at some point.

synagogue, Krakow, Poland, Remuh

Kazimierz, which contained the Jewish Ghetto during the Nazi occupation, is peppered with quite ancient synagogues. Remuh Synagogue is perhaps one of the least interesting ones, but it’s one of two which are still active in Krakow. The thing I appreciated most was the devotion to the written word that Judaism exudes, in that even a tiny synagogue like Remuh has a proportional library of books available to its community.

Poland sketches #1 Train to Warszawa

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Compartment carriages are the best!

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“It was pretty early that, in my mind, the act of travelling was coupled with that of sketching, at least since I had the habit of reading and re-reading my father’s decades-old copies of Corto Maltese graphic novels. When they started publishing them again a few years ago, they included a few dazzling watercolors of the romantic soldier of fortune, set in exotic atmospheres and locations. It further spurred my will to travel and sketch, to record in line and color that which I see, taste, smell, hear and feel, the people that I meet, or that I don’t meet, but for one reason or another, compelled the pen to scratch the paper of yet another page of a sketchbook.

Travelling and sketching are two of my favorite activities. The first, fed by the mystery of the unknown and the curiosity that the other awakens, drives me to walk the globe, finding similarities and oddities, the different aspects of the human experience, that help me build a mosaic, an idea of what in the world are we doing here.

The second takes care of recording what I feel about all the things I come across while travelling. Sketching is an interface with the outside world and that which results from distilling the I and the other together. Maybe the second is the answer to the big question of the first: to find our own way of merging with the world.

A few days trip to Poland doesn’t seem to fit next to the esoteric and romantic wanderings of the sailor, and it’s certainly not the key to the secrets of the human experience, but I think that even in the shortest trips or the least exotic locations, sketching serves the purpose of interpreting and assembling tiny bits of wisdom and knowledge to the pool of oddities and patterns that makes us unique.

Further on, for more prosaic matters: sketching while travelling is a fine way of filling 3 hours of railroad travelling. It’s a better ice-breaker than wódka. It’s an excellent long exposure camera, capturing all the things that are happening around the sketcher, with more clarity and verve than a camera (or a cell phone for that matter).”

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Cheap beer and wódka welcomes travellers to Warsawa late night. Pijalnia is a franchise of polish wódka bars that doesn’t feel like a franchise.


Diários de Viagem 2 – Travel Journals 2

A year ago, I was invited, along with many other sketchers, illustrators and artists, to contribute with ten sketches from a trip I had made, for a collective book – the second of its kind – edited by Eduardo Salavisa and published by Quimera in Portugal. Last november, that project finally came to life in a book launch I unfortunately couldn’t attend. During the holidays, I finally got my hands on one of the two copies that were sent by the publisher and I must say it’s a true honour to have my work included among such superb artists like Siza Vieira, Lapin, João Catarino, António Jorge Gonçalves and so many others!

book, diários de viagem 2, travel, sketching, traveller, sketcher, Poland

The book is yet another step in showing the world what it is that we sketchers do and why do we do it. The following is a free translation of a promotional text about the book by Eduardo Salavisa:

“We know that when we travel, we’re more available and focused to see everything that surrounds us. If we take a sketchbook, a doodler tool and a few watercolours, we’re able to sketch or write down whatever is happening to ourselves, sometimes under difficult circumstances. Some sketches are done in a hurry while others are more elaborate. But all of them are fruit of a period of observation that dents our memory in a permanent way.

The authors, both portuguese and spanish (two of them french but living in Spain), that contributed to this book have good examples of this type of record. Each author tells us the tale of a journey through drawings in their sketchbooks – the Travel Journal – and a short text. It’s 30 journeys told by sketchers-travellers.”

book, diários de viagem 2, travel, travelling, sketching, sketcher, traveller, Poland

Over the next few months, I’ll post here the full sketchbook of the trip to Poland, including the sketches and texts published in the book Diários de Viagem 2.

A big thank you to Patrícia Canastreiro for all the photos and patience!

Anna Tizianna


Anna Tizianna book launch

Anna is almost turning eight. She suddenly and unexpectedly becomes rich, and she knows exactly what to do with the money. This is the premise for Emma Fäldt‘s new children’s book – Anna Tizianna – with illustrations from Josephine Nicander. The book launch was in a quaint little greenhouse in Lund’s Stadsparken. There were autographs from the author and a short reading from the author’s mother.

I got one! If I manage to finish it, I’ll be proud of my swedish-speaking abilities.