Insights & inspirations from SF SketchCrawl

Duarte Circle D logo

Written by

Dave Nguyen

My first drawing consisted of two ninjas fighting on top of a dragon in the hills of Miami. Weird, I know, but that’s what I came up with as a kid sketching his wild imagination during class.

Today, I’m still drawing, but taking more of an “adult” approach by applying my love for drawing to creating a variety of storyboards on things like global awareness, reality travel shows, and the next evolution of social networking. Still fun, but nothing compared to drawing ninjas on a dragon.

So when I attended the most recent SketchCrawl with some of my workmates, we each got in touch with that inner child and expressed what we saw through the art of drawing. There wasn’t a script, deadline, or agenda to follow. All we needed was a pen, pencil, or stylus to do one simple thing: DRAW.

Sketch drawn of a person leaning against a car with a tree directly behind them

SketchCrawl is a drawing “marathon” that celebrates the spirit of creating. The event began in San Francisco, but has since spread globally. The idea is to take your typical PubCrawl, but visually record everything in sight as you move from place to place. In its fourth year, sketching tools have moved beyond pencils and pens to iPads and the variety of sketching/painting apps at their fingertips. Becoming a new type of canvas for digital art, this sophisticated form has become increasingly popular here at the shop.

Anyone and everyone came out for the event–an elderly married couple, a family enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning, and several digital artists from some of the top animation studios. The crawl was definitely more tiring than I imagined, but it was so much fun connecting with people, and sharing artwork with curious folks who just happened to walk by and seeing how others interpret the surroundings.

Workmates sitting on the grass at the SketchCrawl, drawing whatever inspires them

“I forget sometimes how awesome it is that I live in a city with so much great architecture, parks, and diverse people… We should take advantage and sketch more often!”
– Frances Liddell, Designer

We started the day in North Beach and hopped all the way down to Washington Square Park, sketching what we saw along the way, stopping long enough to appreciate the little things just a tad longer and a bit deeper. Spending time with a communal group of artists, it was inspiring comparing what we love and discussing our thoughts on our illustrations.


Sketch of people in different sitting positionsSketches drawn of various people, a person moves from laying on their stomach to laying on their backPerson enjoying sketching a character with different expressionsPeople sketched everything from the small café that was under construction, the famous Molinari Delicatessen, to a pizzeria owner throwing dough in the air. It was in capturing these little moments and adding our own personality through our illustrations did I realize the charm of SketchCrawl.

We were documenting life. And through that documentation with others, you feel inspired to do more, provide different takes on our environment, and absorb details through the variety in our sensibilities. Pretty incredible, yet it doesn’t take an event like SketchCrawl to get that feeling.

If that day of drawing taught me anything, it’s that you can pick up any illustrative tool wherever you are at any time. Just take that moment to capture what’s around you and enjoy the creativity that comes from within. Whether you’re a visual storyteller, an engineer, or just a five-year-old drawing ninjas, it’s all about one simple thing… having fun.

Photo of San Francisco