6 Incredible Urban Sketchers to Follow in 2021


The title of this post does not mean these sketchers have only just emerged. Some of them have been around for many years doing their thing but there are a few on this list I bet you haven’t heard of.

I’m loving each and every one of their styles so much right now that I had to share them with you.

I really do hope you will find a hidden gem on this list that excites you as much as I.

Urban Sketchers to Follow in 2021:

  1. Lyndon Hayes
  2. Maru Godas
  3. Phil Dean – Shoreditch Sketcher
  4. Alienbinbin
  5. Santi Salles
  6. Zheleznaya Nadya – @z_h_a_r_t

Lyndon Hayes

I have been following most of these sketchers for a few years with the exception of Lyndon Hayes, he is a new name to me and when I saw his work I could feel the interest, excitement and inspiration bubble up in me…and when this happens, I know I have struck gold.

Lyndon is an urban sketcher and illustrator based in London, UK. He has a mixture of styles but his bright colourful fineline urban sketches of London featured on his Instagram profile are what really grabbed my attention. I believe Lyndon uses Posca pens to achieve those vibrant colours.

If you want to try this approach for yourself, Lyndon advises using a light colour for backgrounds and a darker colour for the foreground.

Maru Godas

The work of Spanish illustrator and urban sketcher Maru Godas is magical, there is no other word to describe her. She has been an urban sketcher for a number of years and has taught workshops at Urban Sketchers Symposiums in the past. She has illustrated books and her work is used in magazines.

For some reason, Maru’s work passed me by until embarrassingly recently! However, I now can’t wait for one of her “reels” to pop up in my Instagram feed, they are awesome.

Imagine my absolute delight when she released a course on Domestika! Of course, I bought it immediately. I really want to expand my skills with gouache and Maru’s style is so playful and whimsical. I can’t imagine painting in this style so of course, I want to push my boundaries and learn how she does it!

Phil Dean a.k.a Shoreditch Sketcher

Now I am sure a lot of you will know who Phil Dean is, especially as he released a book on the art of Urban Drawing somewhere around August 2020. I have followed Phil’s work for a number of years and had the pleasure of meeting him as I attended one of his workshops somewhere around 2017 (I think).

Phil’s style speaks to my soul, its bold and graphic but full of wonderfully wobbly lines. He captures everyday places with such detail yet not in any kind of laboured way.

Phil is the perfect example of using squiggles to indicate complicated architectural details. When you are looking from far, it looks incredibly detailed – but zoom way in and notice how he is achieving this trick of the eye!

If you’d like to read more about simplifying complicated architectural details, check out these posts:

Phil tends to sketch in a Moleskine with a fineliner on location and (I believe) adds colour later with markers. Perhaps that’s why I find Phil’s work refreshing, because of his use of markers? I think I have only ever done one or two sketches with markers but I would love to try some more.  

AlienBinBin

Do not ask me what his real name is, I have no idea. There is literally zero information about this wonderfully talented human online that I can find besides his(?) captivating Instagram feed. Ok, well I haven’t tried all that hard.  I know he is a part of the Urban Sketchers in Guangzhou, China.

I say “his” as I think I saw him in a photo on his feed…so massive apologies if I have this wrong. 

Alienbinbin’s style is reminiscent of a graphic novel style of illustration. He uses heavy blacks liberally along with super bold colour. I love his work on toned sketchbook paper.

I think he uses Posca markers for the bright flashes of colour. As well as his strong bold use of colour, I love how he plays with perspective, bending, inflating and reducing proportions at well.

He is an extremely talented illustrator and I would love to know more about him!

Santi Salles

Sanit is an urban sketcher, graphic designer and illustration from Spain. He has a super bold, colourful and whimsical style. He is very involved with the Urban Sketchers movement and has a few books available as well as a Youtube channel.

You certainly feel his graphic design skills feed through to his sketching, and more specifically is sketchbook spread design. I particularly love his sketchbook spreads that feature a collection of things. He is sp playful when it comes to how he presents his work, from a graphic novel style layout, to pages that have equal parts sketching, equal parts handwriting and even diagrams. 

His style feels naive yet exciting. He uses a mixed media approach of layering colour pencils over watercolour, which you can see in action in his Pretzels video below:

https://youtu.be/1tzja26tGmA

He also uses gouache from time to time. I love how he adds his colour palette off to the side of the sketch and then is wonderful handwriting too. You can check out his process of sketching a Corona bottle in the video below:

https://youtu.be/7XzVzPMv-aM

Zheleznaya Nadya – @z_h_a_r_t

Zheleznaya is a mind-blowing artist from Belarus. I have been following her on Instagram for a few years now but I somehow always forget about her when recommending urban sketchers to check out.

Her marker sketches of very mundane scenes are incredible. From checking out her Instagram, I can see she predominantly uses Copic markers, although I think she has Touch markers too.

Interestingly, she tends to stick to a limited palette of colours. From a convenience point of view, this does make sense, as lugging around loads of markers when urban sketching seems like a lot of work.

Her limited palette makes her work look more cohesive though. Its quite a moody, sombre palette of greys and blues, perhaps reflecting the city scenes around her.

Zheleznaya has a captivating talent for sketching the most ordinary, boring, or just plain ugly things and making them incredibly beautiful and interesting. She is a real talent. Unfortunately, I don’t know too much else about her.

If you, as I do occasionally, slip into the negative mindset that “there’s nothing to draw” around you then check out her work because she will turn your worldview on its head!

Zheleznaya does have an online course however it is in Russian and there doesn’t appear to be an option for subtitles. If you speak Russian or fancy checking it out anyway, you can find it here.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have found some inspiration on this list. If you prefer to hear/watch me talk about these sketchers, check out my youtube video below:

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