Rider’s Lens: Jamie Vickers
Jamie Vickers started cycling through Asia with a sketchbook on-board and a goal to sketch every day. The result is a stunning collection of drawings that capture his travels in a unique and compelling light…
Words and drawings by Jamie Vickers (@wanderingscribbles)
Commuting, touring, or just riding, the bicycle has played a pivotal role in my life. “Professionally” I find work as a hand drawn animator and storyboard artist. Which is often long hours of grinding desk work. Around 2005, after a number of chronic spinal injuries while working in Japan I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life behind a desk. From that point a daily Yoga practice and cycling sort of took over my life. I still loved drawing though and continued to work, just not with the same blind intensity. I began thinking of a someway I could integrate all my interests, and still be happy, healthy, and be able to pay bills.
At some point I started taking longer amounts of time off between jobs. Riding more, sketching more, focusing on what interests me most. Taking these necessary breaks has been a huge stress reliever. So after doing a few short touring trips in the states, and a number of backpacking trips abroad, I decided to take my bike (Hima-chan) back to Japan, roll south to Kyushu, fly to Vietnam, and start cycling through Asia with a sketchbook on-board. Sure why not, that’s easy enough right? The plan was to sketch everyday while riding. This proved to be more difficult than I realized, for one it’s not easy to sketch and ride a bike at the same time. This led to settling into some places a bit longer than I would have otherwise. But it was cool, I got to to know people and the places a little better. It’s been a really therapeutic experience, sketching life while traveling by bicycle.
I try to find something interesting to draw no matter where I am, even if I’m in a seemingly boring environment. As an animator though, my eye naturally gravitates towards people. The challenge of capturing the character of a person is most interesting to me and when captured well, the most satisfying. Drawing buildings, or landscapes can sometimes be a struggle for me. I almost have to find the character in the structure in order for it to capture my interest. Lately I’ve been trying to sketch out whole scene, putting it all in a context. The sketchbook sort of becomes a camera. Snapping a photo would be a whole lot easier, but you know, it’s not just the captured image, it’s the process, and the experience of standing there, watching life go by and recording it on the paper.
Gear and Tools
Regarding my gear, before leaving I made a frame bag, was pretty happy that I was able to pull that off. It worked out really well aside from two points: X-pac material is durable, but no where near monsoon level waterproof. Also, under enough stress, zippers will always fail. I’m now redesigning my frame bag to a roll-top design. Looking to Porcelain Rocket’s design for inspiration.
Another great use for the frame bag was to carry a sketchbook in. That way whenever I saw something or wanted to stop and draw, it was always right there between my legs. A frame bag I think works best for flat rectangular objects. Perfect for a sketchbook, pens and pencils.
So far it’s been an amazing experience. One interesting and very satisfying outcome has been the realization that people value a drawing. It may seem obvious but when you’re working in an animation studio, your drawing doesn’t always feel valued so much. Everyone else around you is drawing – the same thing you are. It’s just part of the job. Staying on schedule is usually more important. You can easily feel like a shadow in the machine. On the other hand sketching outside, for example – in Laos I drew a man weaving baskets on the side of the road. After he saw me sketching, wondering what I was doing there for so long, He’s curiously walked over to me, and after seeing the drawing and the smile on his face, I had to give the sketch to him. Dude was so happy. This happened a number of times. If I stayed with a village family I’d give them a drawing before leaving. And for the first time in a long time I felt like I had something to offer that made others happy. This has been an extremely powerful, and motivating part of the experience, it’s helped to open my eyes to other possibilities at home and abroad.
I plan to keep up the sketching and traveling, compiling it all into a book… at some point. Work, ride and draw, repeat.
So this drawing was from outside Bok Bok Bike in Bangkok. I got to know the guys there pretty well during multiple visits. It’s really a haven for touring cyclists. Specializing (obviously) in Rohloff service and Surly frames, both of which I was rolling with. Inside the shop it’s little bigger than a walk-in closet and packed full. Work often pours onto the sidewalk outside. It’s something you don’t see much of in the west. It’s very Thailand. So this evening I felt inspired and started drawing the shop and the guys there. I sometimes use a distorted 3/4 down perspective. They joked that that’s my point of view, I’m tall but I’m not this tall. Also you’ll see on the right, a few doors down is another touring shop/cafe called The Touring Boy. A damn good group of people here. Always happy to help a cyclist and share some stories over a beer. Good times.
For more of Jamie’s work make sure to follow him on Instagram @wanderingscribbles