This year I inadvertently started collecting self-published illustrated travel journals, a happy habit born of my introduction to the world of indie bookstores and self-publishing in Korea. Self-published journals have this distinctly homemade feel that is really endearing. You won’t find Nat Geo-level photos or detailed information on where to eat and sleep, but you get a glimpse into the author’s personal travel experience, their creative style and personality. These are just some of my books that I have on hand right now. I could probably do a Part II with the rest of my collection.
This Alaska travel journal was one of the first books I bought at an indie bookstore in Korea. The author, MON, is a Japanese illustrator and I loved the mix of the photos, drawings and explanations. It’s printed on this newsprint-like paper that just adds to its homey charm. I also used this book’s physical dimensions as a reference for my own self-published book, Love Dad.
Hieun is an illustrator I met at an indie bookstore where we traded her Iceland travel journal for a pack of my Veggie Soup stickers. Iceland always looks gorgeous in photos, and it was neat to see her lovely illustrative take on the country. IG: @hieun__
The Drawing Hand is a visual artist I had discovered on IG and later had the pleasure to meet at the Seoul Illustration Fair and at her open studio. I love her use of color and her warm, cozy characters. She’s self-published several of her drawing books; this is her sketchbook from London. IG: @jejeviva
Meg is another illustrator based in Seoul whom I discovered on IG and later met at her open studio. She has a whole series of “Drawings from” books and her alcohol marker portraits in particular just bring a smile to your face. IG: @likemeg
Shashamiu’s travel journal of her honeymoon to Spain was the second self-published book I bought; it was one of those where as soon as I saw it, I had to have it. This book’s mix of ephemera, writing and illustrations just speak to my creative heart. Just look at this spread–isn’t this ticket train adorable??! She has a whole “Little Forest” of adorable animal characters (she is the cat and her husband is the bird). IG: @shashamiu
This. This Tokyo travel journal embodies what I love about the self-publishing scene in Korea. This book is the exact copy of the travel journal the author, Kyurim Kim, kept, jotting down observations and doodles and taping in ephemera in-country. Unlike the other authors above, illustration isn’t her day job but she definitely has a distinct drawing style. She’s also a self-proclaimed lover of stationery and her Insta and blog are always interesting. IG: @kyurimkim
Travel illustrations and journaling is an area I’d like to explore creatively for myself next year. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I travel quite a bit for work. But because it’s for work, and always a very busy schedule, I feel like I never really experience most of these places I’ve physically been to. So I thought travel journaling (after the trip) and scrapbooking might help me reflect and digest my travels more.
What is the indie and self-publishing scene like where you are? And have you seen illustrated travel journals like these? I’m curious what English or other language illustrated journals look like. Let me know!
If you’re curious, here’s my post on Books in 2019.