by Fernanda Mueller
Could you imagine that in 2019 it’s still possible to record travel memories without a cell phone? I know it’s hard to stay even a few minutes away from the device, but on the Sketch and The City tour, you are invited to experience New York in a different way: by drawing.
The Australian artist and yoga teacher, Ben Ponté, used to spend time sketching on the subway and that’s when he realized how people are always with their heads down, looking at their phones. “We are missing a lot these days, because we are simply not watching. I realized as I was drawing everybody that sketching is almost like the antithesis to the digital experience. You are really paying attention”, he says. That’s how the idea for Sketch and The City was born – to make tourists have a more introspective experience and locals to take a closer look at the city.
Sketching through New York City sights
Ben hosts three different tours. The main one starts at Grand Central (he spend about 1 hour inside) then goes to the New York Public Library and Bryant Park area. The second one is in Central Park, from Strawberry fields to The Met (in the winter, people spend more time sketching inside the museum). The third one is at the High Line Park (it’s not available during the winter, because it takes place only outside).
In the beginning, Ben gives everyone a sketchbook, a pencil, and a sharpener. On every tour, people sketch not only at the sightseeing spots but also all along the way. The host makes you really pay attention to things you would never see otherwise – that’s why the experience is very interesting for locals too. Besides, no drawing skills are required to join. Ben explains that “the tour is focused on the experience of sketching, rather than on the end result. It’s a lot of sharing the creative process regardless of technical ability”.
Even though the tour has a route mapped out, it is always different – you don’t know what you are going to see on your way, and that’s what makes it exciting. The idea is not only visiting New York but really experiencing it.
Visit Ben’s website to book the Sketch and The City tour.