FEATURE – The Edinburgh Sketcher

We often search the internet and our twitter stream for new sites on the web relating to Edinburgh and was delighted to discover The Edinburgh Sketcher.  Intrigued to find out more about the person behind the wonderful daily sketches, we asked him a few questions.

Edinburgh Castle

We were delighted to discover your website, can you tell us a little more about yourself?

My name is Mark Kirkham, I have been living in this beautiful city of Edinburgh for the last 15 years and Edinburgh is now definitely home.

I grew up in Lancashire, within a very creative household, my father a keen painter and my mother a talented photographer and professional florist. One of five children I have brother and sister who still paint and create works of art.  Throughout my school years art was my favourite class, which I took into further education with the more computer based graphic and magazine design. I currently work full time at the Scotsman Newspaper as the Saturday magazine designer.

What inspired you to first sketch?

Growing up in such a creative family I had little choice! To be honest I can’t remember not drawing and have always enjoyed using different mediums, from paint to collage, to charcoal of scraper board, there are plenty of ways to create a picture.

In recent years painting had become more of a hobby, time limiting me to the occasional holiday scene of commission of a family pet.


Often I would take my oils/watercolours and canvas on holiday together with great intentions of creating some beautiful landscapes, only to return home time having flown by and with only photographs to remind us our holiday.

I wanted to be able to sketch a scene almost as quickly as I took a photo, which is where the idea of a ‘daily sketch’ came about. Forcing myself to make a quick illustration of a scene in 15 or 20 minutes. I am still trying to master this and I almost always want to spend longer on it, but on my lunch break I do not have a great deal of choice, I have to get back to work!

Also there are a lot of written blogs, and also photo blogs on the web but the idea of a sketch site excited me, and living in the most beautiful city in the world I knew people would be interested in my vistas, plus I am no wordsmith!

Are your sketches all of Edinburgh?

No, not at all. Although I am EdinburghSketcher the sketch blog was always intended to be ‘one life living in Edinburgh’, I think this is more interesting than just a series of images of scenes of the city, that would be more a gallery. A recent trip to the Isle of Arran features in my sketches as do any days away we take from the city. I also like to mix in the everyday items that don’t get noticed, that are sometimes taken for granted. It can be anything that catches my eye that day, from a mug of coffee in a cafe to a creme egg waiting to be devoured.

Creme Egg

What is your favourite view/place in Edinburgh to sketch?

How can I pick a favourite view, we are so spoilt in Edinburgh, and the whole of Scotland for that matter. Plus there are so many yet to discover, if pushed though Arthur’s Seat imediately springs to mind. The impressive crags that rise high into the sky, and the breathtaking 360 degree views from the top. Looking across the city to the Castle and Carlton Hill is sure to be hard to beat.

I also love the view from Silverknowes across the Firth of Forth, with the road and Forth bridges in the distance and beyond them the Kingdom of Fife. But I think many of my favourite views lie within the Old Town, the many alleyways, closes and hidden passageways which show a glimpse of a narrow skyline in the distance. These are the places which surprise me, stop me in my tracks and make me reach for my pad and pen.

I like to include a little history of such places along with my sketch, hopefully telling a viewer something they did not know, and perhaps causing them to take a second look at the buildings and sculptures they pass everyday.

Wee Kiss

Your sketches would make an excellent and original present, do you do commissions?

Thank you, yes I do love to take on commissions, I have always felt that original works of art make incredible gifts. Even more so in today’s world where we are saturated with photograhs and everyone seems to have a camera of some sort in their bag. An original illustration can be so captivating, I recently completed this illustration of a clients two nieces, a ‘wee kiss’ between sisters. The drawing gives an lovely photo added depth and emotion, and makes a wonderful gift for family relatives.

I am a keen photographer also and if a client hasn’t got an image already I can include a photo shoot with their commission.

Available for commissions

What advice would you give to would-be sketchers out there?

My top three pieces of advice to budding sketchers would be:

1. Get Sketching
I was thinking about a sketch blog for about a year before EdinbughSketcher was born, you can plan and plan but in the end you just need to get out there and do it!

2. Don’t be shy
You can feel very self war pulling out a pen and pad in a busy street, especially on the Royal mile during the festival. Don’t let that put you of, once I begin I get into  the zone ad usually forget people are passing by, even when they come up and have a look!


3. Be Prepared
I always carry a pad, pencil, pen, eraser and sharpener, the bare essentials. But sometimes being creative can add some detail to the illustration, I have sketched on napkins and receipts before, like this one from a popular coffee shop.

Where can we see your daily sketch and previous work ?

You can follow my Daily Sketch on twitter  @edinsketcher, flickr and facebook, don’t forget to ‘like’ my facebook page to receive the Daily Sketch on your news wall.

Also visit my website Edinburgh Sketcher to see all my charactor commissions along with the Daily Sketch. Coming soon to edinburghsketcher.com will be items for sale incorporating my sketches of life in Edinburgh. I am thinking of mugs, t-shirts and canvas bags, but if readers have any other suggestions of items I can use my sketches on then please get in touch at contact@edinburghsketcher.com or @edinsketcher.

Arthur's Seat

Website http://edinburghsketcher.com/
Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/edinburghsketcher
Twitterpage  http://twitter.com/edinsketcher
Flickr page  http://www.flickr.com/photos/edinburghsketcher
Email  contact@edinburghsketcher.com

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