RSA 365: Shaun Gaylard’s Architectural Drawings

WORDS Celeste Jacobs PHOTOS AND ILLUSTRATIONS Courtesy of Shaun Gaylard

In 2020, architect and artist Shaun Gaylard of Blank Ink Design challenged himself to draw 365 sketches of South African buildings, bridges and towers. We asked him how it went, and about his daily drive to draw.

Shaun Gaylard’s love affair with architecture and drawing has been ticking on for many years. “As a child I was deeply interested in architecture. I’d wait for the monthly editions of magazines on architecture and interiors – although the fact that I lived in a small town meant my choice was limited,” he says. And this ever-evolving passion “stayed with me through six years of university and far too many sunrises spent in the architecture studio”, he jokingly adds.

Alongside his architectural career, Shaun has always been drawing, illustrating and documenting both local and international buildings. In 2013, he turned his hobby into a business and opened Blank Ink Design with the intention of merging his two great loves – architecture and drawing.

“Chronological documentation of a city or country’s architecture is the thread that ties all of my work together,” Shaun says. “The title of each work is highlighted with an acronym of the name, similar to that of an airport – a nod to the idea of travel and exploration. My guides are a map for those who have visited the cities, explored the streets or delved into the history – but they’re also there for those who dream of visiting the buildings and their cities.”

Shaun Gaylard

Last year’s challenge to sketch 365 drawings of South African architecture saw Shaun set the target of completing one per day. It’s been a dream of his to build a local body of work that doesn’t exist in this kind of scale and narrative.

“The preservation and awareness of architecture is at the forefront of all the drawings I do,” he says. “The idea of capturing this in a book is, therefore, a culmination of more than a decade of work.”

Needless to say, the pandemic definitely had an impact on Shaun’s process – but he has remained optimistic, balancing his full-time job with his commitment to completing the challenge. “I found this a real struggle in the beginning, but with time I found a new blended balance,” he says. “The pandemic has also affected the way I exhibit the drawings. At this point I would have ordinarily had a big launch exhibition and party.

Shaun draws on Fabriano paper, using pencil for the concept and black pen for the final drawing. Following that, his sketches are filled in using Copic markers. You can check on his progress on his website or Instagram. He’s looking forward to finishing his upcoming book, and exhibiting a showcase of all 365 of his drawings from 2020.

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