We all know a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a thousand words aren’t nearly enough to capture a moment in time; especially when it comes to travel journaling. Sketch artist and writer Candace Rose Rardon has found a way of marrying writing and illustrating together, creating visual journals that are accompanied by her thoughts and recollections of her travels around the world.
A visual storyteller, Rardon considers herself an unofficial cultural anthropologist, noting that the driving force behind her work has always been connection. “Across the world, I’ve found art is an incredible vehicle for creating deeper connections—with the places we visit and the people who call each place home,” she explains on her website.
“A sketch is a very tangible interpretation of a place,” she further explained in an interview with Off Assignment. “With a writer’s notes, people have to take time to read them, but with art, they can literally look at the picture and react. There’s a possibility of live and direct comparison: They can see my interpretation as it unfolds, find the connection between what’s moving me to create, and what I’m creating.”
Originally from the state of Virginia, Rardon has spent more than a decade traveling and living abroad, in cultures as diverse as India, New Zealand, and Uruguay—where she’s now based in Montevideo. Having earned her Master’s in Travel Writing (yes, apparently that’s a thing), from London’s Kingston University, her love of writing, illustrating, and travel has led her to some interesting collaborations. Over the years, she’s worked with National Geographic, created large-scale murals for global brands in Thailand and Singapore, and was even featured as a sketch artist and niche travel blogger in the New York Times.
“When I’m doing a sketch, I’m writing about that place through lines and shapes,” explains the visual storyteller. “I’m paying just as much attention as if I was sitting there taking notes. Every sketch is a series of decisions, granting importance to certain elements in the scene. And yet it also results in a visual record, as photography does.”
And while the end result is very much inspiring, Rardon acknowledges that capturing the experience rather than beautifying it is what lies at the heart of her work. “Maybe it’s not so much about beauty,” she notes. “My sketch is never going to live up to reality. Later, I’ll wish I could’ve captured the light better, the details better. But it’s just my way of chiseling the foreignness away, getting to the heart of what was so alien when I sat down and opened my sketchbook.”