New Blog Series: ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal’

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationI’ve always wanted to keep a travel journal where I could glue train ticket stubs onto the pages, or draw tiny drawings to remind me of my experiences in the 20+ countries I have been to. I guess that’s the main drive behind my illustrated travel posts series, dubbed ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal,‘ Naturally, as a former PR gal, I want to take this blog series to the next level by introducing a special badge that sort of ‘brands’ it all and makes it a fixed section in my blog.

I come from a PR and media background, so there is nothing more exciting for me than to engage in a mini branding exercise. I like to create badges (or logos) for each and every blog series I introduce into this blog. The illustration above is my new travel series badge. What do you think? Do you like it?

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationHaving a travel journal has always been a dream of mine, but I never got around to it. Over the years I sort of opted to keep my travel pictures, plane tickets, and post cards in a small cardboard box that sat on one of my shelves (mostly collecting dust). I also have another box where I keep my souvenirs and the trinkets I have collected from the different handcraft markets and tiny indie shops I’ve been to around the globe.

This series basically started back in June when I was marveling at the contents of my souvenirs box. That’s when I felt a strong urge to illustrate these knickknacks and baubles and sort of tell their story. As a result, my first official travel post was born and it was about my collection of Tunisian ceramics.

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationWhy I Love Travel

Travel for me is a reminder that life is about endless possibilities. It makes us realize that there is so much more to life than our own narrow experiences. It helps us expand our horizons and keeps us from getting fixated on our own set ways.

Not all people who travel end up expanding their understanding of the human condition. Some take their prejudices and narrow-mindedness with them everywhere they go. They get all judgmental about the customs and traditions of the countries they visit, and constantly keep comparing them to their own. That’s definitely not the kind of traveller I ever wanted to be!

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationTravel and Cultural Respect

When I was lucky enough to visit Morocco a few years ago, I remember going off on my own to visit the local Souk (market). I wanted an authentic experience that wasn’t affected by some of my colleagues’ moods, or maybe the lack of respect they seemed to have for other cultures. The age range varied so much and some of the people in my group were too self-involved for my taste, so I decided I didn’t have to ruin my trip on their account.

In my post, Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco, I talk about suitable attire for visiting public and spiritual areas in Morocco. I had to learn that the hard way, as I went completely unprepared with my sleeveless shirts and torn pair of jeans. I remember buying traditional humble clothing from the market because I wanted to enter a small spiritual mosque, traditionally called ‘Zawya’ in Muslim countries that have a strong Sufi and spiritual heritage, like Morocco.

Respecting other people’s traditions is really the backbone of travel. It helps tame our own judgmental nature and be open to a different way of life, even for just a little while. Otherwise, what’s the point from travel if we are going to come out of these experiences exactly the same people as we first started?

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Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationEverything about Morocco is exquisite and special! Its architecture, home decor, food, local fashion and traditions, are all a delight to the senses. Rich with colour, motifs and patterns, Morocco is not like any other country. This North African gem is steeped in tradition, yet very hospitable and welcoming of visitors from all corners of the globe. To make sure you are prepared to experience the Moroccan culture, here are a few fundamental packing tips to help you pack.

The following suggested list includes the very basics, but you can always build on it. It’s also a list for the ladies, as I am sure men have different needs that I myself wouldn’t know very much about :)

  1. Souvenirs: Bring along a few light-weight souvenirs that reflect the culture of your country, but make sure nothing in there is too controversial or culturally offensive (I drew a Dala Horse in my illustration above, assuming the traveller in question is from Sweden). Moroccans are very hospitable, so don’t be too surprised if a total stranger insists on inviting you over to a family meal at their own home. Be prepared with a few interesting trinkets as a thank-you gesture.
  2. 1 pair of sneakers: You will need them for hikes and long walks around Morocco’s beautiful souks and markets.
  3. Socks
  4. 1 pair of flip-flops
  5. 1 pair of loose-fit jeans: Baggy jeans are your best bet as they won’t attract unnecessary attention in public souks. Since it can get very hot during the summer, a loose-fit will also help you stay cool. The general etiquette in Morocco for Women usually involves modest clothing.
  6. At least one long-sleeved shirt, that is also loose-fitting: If you’re planning to visit one of Morocco’s beautiful Mosques, you will need modest clothing for the occasion.
  7. A scarf: Having a scarf on hand is a great idea, especially if you happen to pass through a religious corner (Zawya) or district.
  8. Sunscreen: The sun in Morocco can be very intense during summertime. You will most probably get a tan by just walking down the street during daytime!
  9. Your mobile phone
  10. Your charger + adapter

My enchantment with Morocco began as a little child. Back then I had no idea I actually had Moroccan ancestry from my mother’s side. I found out relatively recently that I have a great great grandfather from Morocco, and then one of his descendants married a Moroccan lady. I couldn’t be happier knowing I actually had roots in a culture I so admired and found to be so inspiring and resourceful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s illustrated post. I look forward to seeing you in my next one!

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My Travel Illustrations Journal: Tunisian Ceramics

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationThe most breathtaking ceramics I’ve ever seen are handcrated by Tunisian artisans in this wonderful Mediterranean country. I’ve been collecting Tunisian ceramics long before my first visit to this North African gem. For this post, I have illustrated my Tunisian ceramics collection, consisting of large display plates, Tajine pots, tea cups, and tiny small dishes. This is also the first official page in my newly created blog series, dubbed ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal.’

A few years ago, I traveled to Tunisia as part of a music tour and multi-cultural project, organised by the British Council. We stopped in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, for a night on our way to Tabarka, a pristine coastal town famous for The Tabarka Jazz Festival.

That morning, the bus took us to a small mini-market opposite the sea in a quite corner of Tunis. I remember standing in awe at the sight of the deep blue sea – as I stepped out of the mini-market with my bag of water bottles and snacks, before going on a 10-hour drive to our destination.

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationI think the navy-indigo hues of the Tunisian sea-view of the Mediterranean have a lot to do with the rich colors used in Tunisian ceramics, with their beautifully glazed surfaces, hand-painted patterns and intricate designs. Blues and navies are an essential colour in the Tunisian ceramics tradition, as well as a backdrop of white that seems to always help the blues to pop!

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon Illustration

Tunisian Ceramics & Food Gatherings

I’m generally a strong advocate of a beautifully arranged table setting that invites the senses and creates a certain welcoming and enticing mood. Food in my culture is much more than just a few bites to calm a hungry stomach down. There is a long history of hospitality and attention to detail associated with food – as a social event, a cultural activity and a a ritual that involves several disciplines of the arts.

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationIn a previous post, I wrote about how in my family Tunisian ceramics, as well as other handcrafted dining accessories and cutlery from other countries, are an essential part of our food festivities. You can read all about it in this post here – Illustration Inspiration: Colourful lunch the Mediterranean Way.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s post, and I do look forward to seeing you all in my next one!

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For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes and Tunisian Ceramics

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Illustrations by YaansoonEver had the chance to live in an old Mediterranean village, away from  tourist centers, and in the midst of tradition and country life? What about spending the afternoon sipping on delicious mint tea, lovingly poured into a beautiful ceramic tea cup, while enjoying the calming view of a blue-turquoise sea? That’s heaven, right? And these new illustrations are just about that Mediterranean dream!

I’m not one for too much modernity. I was once invited to a conference hosted at a state-of-the-art hotel, featuring cutting-edge design and super modern interiors. I couldn’t sleep a wink; the uber modernity of my hotel room was too cold and distant for my taste. It missed the coziness and the dreaminess of a structure built with warm, natural materials, lovingly handmade with love.

The best wanderlust experiences I have ever had were always in unpretentious places, where old traditional houses nestled dreamily beneath orange groves, while the distant sea lent the spectacle a gorgeous blue tint that is both calming and soothing to the soul.

Old Mediterranean homes are not just beautiful to look at, they’re also built with healthy materials that can breathe, like clay. A home that is able to literally breathe can influence everything from your mood to your sleep to your imagination. That’s why I believe the best places to be are down-to-earth, naturally built, and cozy.

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Illustrations by YaansoonThe Mediterranean has always been my prime preference for travel, both mentally with my imagination as well as physically.

I have been to ten Mediterranean countries so far, including Cyprus, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and Egypt. One of my great grandmothers is from Morocco and that might be the reason I am head-over-heels in love with this North African Mediterranean country that is rich in every aspect of its arts and crafts lifestyle.

But when it comes to Mediterranean pottery, handmade Tunisian ceramics are my most coveted, owing to their unique, detailed and whimsical patterns and motifs. In the second image above, I have included one of my hand-illustrated Tunisian tea sets in an editorial-style page, featuring a paragraph from this article by the National Geographic: Handmade Tunisian Ceramics.

For the Love of Vintage Mediterranean Homes & Tunisian Ceramics | Editorial Lifestyle Illustrations by Yaansoon

As for the first illustration in this post, it is inspired by a Mediterranean home that belongs to someone dear to me – someone who has taught me a lot about life, inner strength, faith and art.

I hope you enjoyed this post’s story and illustrations, and I do hope to see you soon with another post!

P.S: Turns out this is my 100th post on WordPress! Nice! :)

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