How to Replace Instagram With a Sketchbook

See what happens when one woman sketches the moments of her week instead of Instagramming them

Point, shoot, filter, upload, swipe, scroll, double tap, comment.

The pace of our social media has escalated to the point where we’re simultaneously creating and consuming more images and status updates than we can possibly absorb. That would make a great Instagram post, we think, and in the span of 90 seconds we’ve taken the photo, cropped it, given it a summer in the ’60s vibe (thanks, Valencia filter!), and already gotten our first like from that one friend we haven’t seen in four years. You know the one.

But what if you slowed the process, and instead of taking a quick photo to document that gorgeous sunset or exquisite latte art, you drew it? A software engineer named Fahd Butt did just that for a whole year. Whether it was to capture his French toast or a fender bender, Fahad pulled out his pencil and notebook to sketch what he saw, leaving his smartphone in his pocket. A friend of Fahad’s gave these drawings the brilliant name of “slowgrams.”

“This drawing ritual of slowing down and seeing deeply is truly meditative when you stay present and let go of the outcome.”

So we got to thinking: What would it look like to draw one slowgram a day for one week, and how would that process feel?

We posed the question to artist and yogini Andrea Keh, who took on the slowgram challenge from May 14–19. “This drawing ritual of slowing down and seeing deeply is truly meditative when you stay present and let go of the outcome,” Andrea says. “‘Not perfect is perfect’ is one of my favorite quotes from one of my art professors back in the day. I gave myself 10 to 20 minutes for each sketch—otherwise I would go into perfection mode,” she says. She also chose not to use an eraser.

The resulting images are gorgeous little snippets of everyday life—a spider crawling across her workspace, her breakfast spread. But they provide something more than just a peek into her world. The sketches convey a sense of attention and consciousness that would be lacking if each scene were presented in photo form. They are filled with purpose and intention—something not even the best filter can provide.

See Andrea’s slowgrams below, and follow her on Instagram @AndiKeh








Grace Edquist is the associate editor at Wanderlust.