top of page
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn


Updated: Apr 13, 2023

By: Zandro, Partner and Senior Designer at Hager Design International

When I started my career in interior design, it was the beginning of the computer-aided drafting and designing era. I saw drafting tables replaced by computers, blueprint machines replaced by plotters and pencil graphite replaced by plastic ends. Some people think that manual drawing is a lost art, but just like fashion and music – it is coming back. It may be considered “retro”, but definitely coming back.

Did it ever go away, though?

A lot of artists and designers still sketch the old-fashioned way. One of them is Michael Flynn whose work I’ve encountered while browsing thru other design company’s portfolio. He inspired me to use drawings and sketches as the first tool to record my ideas and when I study interior spaces. This paved way to better opportunities for me in the design industry. I realized a lot of people still appreciate this form of art and acknowledge the value it brings. Not wanting to be left behind with technology, I typically use a hybrid of hand sketch and digital colouring for work. Otherwise, my go-to will be my ever-dependable pencils, pens & watercolours.

Concept sketch for 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters at Main St. Vancouver. Pencil sketched and coloured digitally. Circa 2011.

First Aid Kit. Keeping it handy and as portable as possible.

Sketching is my way of keeping focused. In classrooms, meeting rooms or conferences, I would listen and sketch at the same time. Proof of this were my notebooks during elementary and high school days – content is mostly drawings instead of notes (I wish I kept those). I used to always get into trouble from my parents for requesting a new notebook – every week! At work, the weekend portion of my day planner is my canvass.

Aerial view sketch of a random non-existent place done in day planner.

Travel and sketching are two of my big passions. I was able to fuse both through urban sketching. Whenever travelling for work or for pleasure, I keep a travel sketch book (my “travelogue”) as a record of my trips. During vacations, I take advantage of that 15-minute break from walking and use it for sketching. Breaks are planned so that our stopovers are at interesting places. To feed my children’s curiosity, I always explain to them why and what I like about the subject.

Image grab from Instagram. Sketching the Chateau Fort du Lourdes in France.

Image grab from Instagram. Sketching of the Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre.

I sketch whatever catches my eye, subject is unlimited. I draw people while in the airport, or the plane in the tarmac, my kids in the train, my coffee or even my breakfast.

People watching and sketching in Norfolk International Airport.

The train ride back to Paris from Lourdes (L) and the YVR Tarmac (R).


I was introduced to John Gardner a couple of years ago and both of us share the same interest. He started #paintingonplanes in Instagram which became a platform for travel sketchers like me to showcase their art created while “bored” on the flight. I found sketching very effective in killing time especially on long-haul flights and when there’s nothing interesting to watch on board.

On board UA464 from Vancouver to Denver, circa 2019.

Sketching for me is like going to the spa – the sound of graphite on paper is music to my ears and the smell of watercolour or marker is like having aroma therapy. It’s my way of meditating. No, it’s not boring, whenever I start one, I get excited like a kid opening his new video game.

This is not a lost art, and never was. I am glad, Elvis never left the building.


Post by Zandro Tumaliuan

Zandro travels every chance he gets, and never leaves home without his sketchbook. He is responsible for other team members having songs from The Beatles and Star Wars stuck in their heads, and he doesn't feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

Visit @graphitespeak instagram account for more sketches!!!



bottom of page