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Lori Richmond has been diligently keeping travel journals ever since she was a teen, when she first began scribbling notes about the day’s adventures on a high school trip to Europe. Back then, she’d grab whatever pen and paper she had handy — even if it was a notepad copped from the hotel desk — and jot down memories of the places she went and the people she met along the way.
These days, though? Let’s just say Richmond’s travel journals have gotten a serious upgrade. But I guess that’s what happens when you grow up to be a talented book illustrator.
“Within the past few years, I’ve been changing my journaling to a more visual style, simply because it’s more fun,” she tells Babble. “And drawing things you see and experience is known to improve your memory of them — even more than photos.”
The results are, to put it mildly, pretty awesome.
Richmond’s journals are now like visual passports into another world, transporting you right along with her to the hills of San Fran or the beaches of Hawaii.
And now that she’s a mom of two, drawing her young sons — and her husband Matt — into the travel stories she tells makes things even more fun.
“The boys get a huge kick out of it!” she says of her sons, 9-year-old Cooper and 6-year-old Holden. “They love to see the drawing develop each day and will ask me to add funny things like, ‘Mom, make sure you put the sock I dropped over the hotel balcony in your doodle!’ The drawings are really dense and full of words and objects, so it’s equally fun for me to watch them pour over it and remember all the little things from our trip.”
Richmond, who worked as a web designer and creative director for 20 years, left the daily grind of digital media just last year to return to her first love: drawing and painting.
“Designing websites and apps is fun, but they change all the time,” she tells Babble. “I wanted to create work with longevity. I started taking some night classes in children’s book illustration and fell in love with the storytelling and book making process. I knew that I had to chase this rainbow.”
And chase it she did.
And when she’s not getting lost in illustrating a new book, Richmond blogs about drawing on her website LoriDraws.com, where she offers drawing tips and advice to budding artists (or just those of us who want to up our travel-journaling game).
Her advice? Get yourself started with some basic tools — like a Moleskine unlined notebook, some Micron pens in varying widths, and Faber Castell PITT Markers (which she suggests buying in a few tones of gray to add shading).
“Remember that the goal is not to render something perfectly,” says Richmond. “It’s to record your memories.”
“I usually begin from the top left of the page, and work my way to the right. You can draw a larger title (like your vacation destination) in the top left corner, and then fill in the surrounding page with words and objects. I really like documenting the little moments because it makes the art and the memory that much richer. Did someone say something funny? Did you learn a really unexpected fact on a tour? Did you spill a drink at nearly every meal, like we did?! That is the kind of stuff you can use as content for your drawing. Be sure to mix up words and drawn objects for a really dynamic layout.”
But her best advice of all? Just keep drawing …
And drawing …