Meet Omar Jaramillo Traverso

Our featured Independent Artist for the month of May

An Ecuadorian by birth, a German by passport, Jaramillo works, mostly, as a landscape architect. He studied in Germany, stayed, and then worked for a number of years in Sicily, before spending the past year in Abu Dhabi.

Why bounce around so much?

“I like it,” he says, “I take the opportunity when it comes.”

Jaramillo is here in Newfoundland for three months, visiting family, and taking the time to make art every day.

“While being in the Emirates,” he says, “I started getting a lot of attention with my painting, drawings, and sketching, and I got many publications there, from newspapers, magazines, even some jobs and stuff like that. But time was always the problem, so I was thinking okay, maybe I’ll give it a try.”

Urban Sketchers

Jaramillo belongs to a group (and a movement) called Urban Sketchers, which seeks to raise “the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel. We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.”

“With a camera, you click, and keep going. But with a sketch or drawing you really are connected to the place.” —Omar Jaramillo

“I found them two years ago when I was living in Sicily,” says Jaramillo, ” and I was like, ‘wow’. Suddenly you meet people who are doing the same thing that you’re doing… And the moment you get into the group, it becomes very addictive, because you get a huge exchange of comments of other people, other artists.”

The practice of sketching your travels goes back a long ways, but Jaramillo sees a special connection to the practice of sketching Grand Tours of the continent (the European continent) in the 1800’s. Today, young backpackers going the same route would probably take their camera, but for Jaramillo, there’s something special about the sketching.

Speaking for the sketches

“With the sketching,” he says, “it’s not only that you get a memory of the place, but you have to spend at least 20 minutes (one sketch for me takes around 20-30 minutes to finish), so you spend 20 minutes concentrated on one object, you really look at the object, you really understand the object. So it’s not only the memory that stays there, but the moment here, because you really were connected with the moment. With a camera, you click, and keep going. But with a sketch or drawing you really are connected to the place.”

And the best part, really, is that all of his sketches are in carefully marked leather bound books — they’re physical memories that can be shared.

“I have seen people reading the books and enjoying them,” says Jaramillo. When was the last time you showed your photography from your travels to your friends and they would like it?”

While that last point is a contentious one, it really doesn’t matter. Jaramillo’s sketches speak for themselves, and we’re thrilled to feature him for this month’s featured Independent Artist. Expect a new image every Thursday for the month of May.

And if you see Jaramillo out sketching, go say hello, or maybe just take the 20 minutes, and watch a memory be put to paper.

A Gallery of Omar Jaramillo Traverso’s previous work: More at

All images © Omar Jaramillo Traverso.

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