Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Urban Sketchers Chicago Onboard with #MetraManners

Some people text or read, daydream, some meet with friends, while others eat or nap on the 
train. There is, however, a group of artists who sketch a wide range of passengers on various 
Metra routes. They represent a local group known as Urban Sketchers Chicago (USk Chicago) and they are part of a global community of artists that enjoy drawing on location in cities, towns, and villages 
in which they live, work, or have visited. Examples include but are not limited to cafes, street 
scenes, buildings, houses, shops, landscaping, people, domestic animals, transportation 
centers (i.e. airports, train stations and buses) as well as what you see while you are traveling.

Illustration: Brian Wright                              Illustration: Wes Douglas

Sketching people on public transportation is a favorite subject of these artists 
because they are always different and interesting. In our own way, Urban Sketchers 
are quietly doing our part to elevate the current Metra Rail “Ride Nice” campaign
#metramanners. Who knows? Maybe the more smiles we can create with our 
sketches the less riders will be throwing digital jabs at one another about 
inappropriate behavior.

Urban Sketchers do not sketch from memory or photographs but by direct 
observation in person. This becomes particularly challenging because people 
on trains move around a lot. But it is also rewarding when those being sketched 
discover how their likeness is elevated to a fresh new perspective by these artists. 

Wes Douglas remembered hearing one lucky passenger exclaim, “When someone 
snaps your photo on the train, it’s a little creepy. But when someone sketches you it 
is a relief.” These artists capture many different positions, colorful clothing and the 
expressions of commuters on paper. 

Our urban sketchers are located all over the Chicagoland area and depend on public transportation for traveling between work and home as well as gatherings with fellow 
urban sketchers. And since a large portion of their day is spent on commuting, urban 
sketchers make the most of it by knocking out a few sketches to pass the time.

To learn more about Urban Sketchers Chicago and where they will be sketching next 
go to:

To learn more about Metra Rail’s Ride Nice campaign: