“What are you doing?”
I looked up to see a little boy watching me intently. His eyes were glued to my iPad, and I wondered if he was going to ask to borrow it to play Angry Birds (which I didn't have).
“I’m sketching those people over there,” I replied, watching him curiously. Had he not seen anyone drawing before?
“Oh…so you’re a Sketcher Man!” said Little Boy with a grin. "I thought you were a Drawer." And with that, he was off.
Sketcher Man? Most people ask if I’m an artist, an illustrator, and I’ve even been called a Drawer. But Sketcher Man? How does a boy of…maybe 9, come up with that? I have no idea, but that day on the street, the name kind of stuck, and so here I am, Sketcherman. In a way, it’s quite appropriate. It’s a nod to my childhood when I learnt to draw from copying comic books, fascinated by the bulked up superheroes flying across the pages. To stop myself from nodding off when a teacher was boring, I used to secretly draw in class. Spidey crawled through the pages of my textbooks. The margins were filled with the Hulk, Superman and Batman (and buddies). Drawing and sketching became my secret superpowers then, and have stayed and grown with me through the years. I wanted to be a comic book illustrator, and even sent a picture to Stan Lee, hoping to be discovered when I was 12. Needless to say, that didn’t work out. I never got to work for Marvel, but even now, people see me draw and ask if I do comic books, as my style still retains strong echoes of the heroes that taught me how to draw.
If you must know, my name is really Robert R. Tan, but you can call me Rob. 'Rob the Sketcherman' eventually became simply Rob Sketcherman. I live in Hong Kong right now; an amazing place that thrums with energy and vitality.. Graphic design and illustration works on commission were my bread and butter, but just drawing is my thing. Actually, not just ‘drawing’, which sounds more deliberate and calculated to me. Draftsmen draw too. I love the looser, freeform, organic version of it. I love sketching; being in the zone, putting pen to paper (or nowadays, stylus to iPad) and letting the lines flow quickly across the screen. It's magical watching what appears. I don't think very hard or plan beyond having an idea of approximately what I'd like to focus on for a sketch. Some are just really quick impressions, some are more detailed studies of what I’m observing.
Sketching people and places has, for the most part, replaced photography for me. (My gear is a lot lighter now too.) I find the act of observation and attempt to capture the essence of what I see, a very joyful meditative process. And it's a whole lot more personal than snapping hundreds of snapshots, which is what I used to do. My iPhone provides me with photographic reference if time runs out, but where possible, I sketch. I recently read someplace (sorry, I forgot where) that it's good for the brain too! I don't know about that, but it sure is good for the soul.
I'm part of a little urban sketching group, and a life drawing group in Hong Kong, and this site chronicles my adventures there, as well as the personal development that every artist goes through. I'll share what I've learned and show you a few tricks I may have picked up.
I've recently gone full-time as an artist, doing some illustration commissions on the side. Giclée prints of all that you see on this site are available for sale, so if you like something, do get in touch. I'm able to provide all kinds of custom sizes, and have my work printed with archival ink on a gorgeous 310gsm archival substrate.
Thanks for popping by and checking my site out. I welcome your comments and invite you to look around and visit often if you like what you see.
:) Rob Sketcherman
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message through the form below :)