Lettering While Traveling


Lettering is fun and so is traveling! So why not combine the two? I did just that during my recent trip to Taipei.

So when you feel like you're ready to take the next step and do it in a different place, here are some things to take note of.

Choose your weapons

Before you travel, think about what you want to do and what style do you want to show in your work. This will dictate what pens and paper you need to bring with you.

Since I decided to go for mostly black and white lettering during this trip, I chose to bring these pens:

  • Pencil
  • Retractable Eraser
  • Pentel Touch Pen (Black, Red, Purple)
  • Sharpie (Black and Gold)
  • OHTO Graphic Liner 0.3
  • Sakura Pigma Graphic 1.0

For the paper, I brought with me some index cards and a small Monologue sketchbook.

Travel pens
Travel pens

Pack them in a small case that is convenient to bring anywhere, especially if you plan on drawing while you are on the road, which brings me to the next important point.

Plan ahead

What's good about lettering is that unlike urban sketching or doing Plein air watercolor, you don't need to sketch the view from the location. This means that you can prepare your art beforehand.  This is especially helpful for people like me, who have a degree in OCD when planning a trip. Since you know where you want to go, the place can be a source of inspiration. For example, I know I will go to Taipei and Taipei 101 is an iconic spot, so preparing a lettering with the word "Taipei" while thinking about the backdrop the night before will be the best option for me. I will do that before I sleep. So when I explore the city the next day, I don't need to worry about anything. I just pull out the sketch and take a photo of my work when I arrive on location.

Taipei Lettering - nathanielong
Taipei Lettering - nathanielong

On the other hand, If you want to draw on location, don't forget to bring your gear as you leave in the morning, as you won't likely be able to go back to your hotel just before you sketch. Find a cafe or a spot nearby where you can work comfortably.

Draw where you can

It does not matter where you draw. You can draw almost anywhere. You don't have to be restricted to drawing on location.

During this trip, I drew in different places. I drew in the hotel room. I drew in a cafe. And I also drew in the plane.

Lettering on Location Shilin - nathanielong
Lettering on Location Shilin - nathanielong

Just find a comfortable position and draw away. It's a little tricky to draw straight lines when you are on the road, but having a feel of how the vehicle moves, allows for a certain leeway. On the plane, I appreciated the fact that there was no turbulence, only the occasional jitters which were manageable.

La La Land Lettering in the plane - nathanielong
La La Land Lettering in the plane - nathanielong

As you can see, it is manageable to continue lettering while you are traveling. You don't have to keep things complicated. Frequently, having a simple plan works. It does not have to be a stressful exercise. Lettering is fun, and so is traveling. Keep

Keep traveling, keep lettering!