Sketching above 37,000 feet

What are activities that you would do during flight? Is it sleep, watch movies, read the book, listen to music, writing the report on a laptop, playing a game on the tablet, talking with colleagues or other passengers? I believe most of us will do these kinds of activities during the flight. But there is another alternative activity that you can try to do during your flight. You may try to make sketches. With sketches, you just need simple and basic tools. Pen or pencil with paper or books. Just do a sketch or draw anything. Yes, anything. It can be something in front of your sight (can be passenger seat, people, food, book, watch, flight attendant, etc.) or something that come up in your mind or imagination (your future car, future wife, future house, your cat at home, flower in your garden, delicious breakfast that you enjoy before flight, etc.)


The illustration of CGK-DOH-CDG trip with Qatar Airways QR957 & QR041


Why sketching?

Making art. Because by making sketch or drawing, it means that you will make art. Making art? Yes, we talk about art here. But, in this case, we are not talking sophisticated or something that related with museum, galleries, collectors or curators. We are talking about passion, love or life, an enjoyment that perhaps created by sales people, engineer, accountants, lawyer, business people, full-time moms at their meeting room, at the café, at the airplane, at their cubicle or at their kitchen. We are trying to create something unique, passionate and beautiful. We just trying to express our idea and feel free to express ourselves.


This sketch made using with ballpoint and notebook. Sometimes these tools are enough to make a sketch. This sketch made on 11 August 2013, on a flight from SUB – CGK, using Lion Air with their B737-800.


Stress buster and no gadgets. Some say that by make art, we will make our life more fun and richer, less stressed. We will enjoy our life more because by creating art, it will mean that we will stop time. We will clear out our mind and focus on something in front of us or something in our imagination. We will fully engage with the activities that we make, which is sketching or drawing. Sketching will make you relax. Also, it means we are relaxed without electronic gadgets; it is an efficient way of relaxing your brain and body. It helps you focus and calm. And sometimes, by sketching, you will find yourself feeling so peaceful. Almost like some form of a meditation.


Warm croissant for breakfast on QR041 before landing at CDG. Since we were doing the trip on Ramadan, it means we do fasting and it’s not allowed to eat and drink. That’s why I am not allowed to eat but allowed to sketch. LOL. This croissant belongs to my daughter, who are not fasting, and she said it’s delicious…


Improve your visual thinking competency. You will be able to capture and picture any object, place, persons. Even any imagination in your mind that you want to draw. You will be able to picture things, will remember them and finally, you will pay attention more to the detail. It also can help you do communication better because you can express your idea or even yourself better by your sketch or drawing.


Many sources can be made as inspiration. Even you can sketch the backseat in front of you.

Share the story and impress the crowd. Sketching also medium for us to share our story. I know that today is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Blog or Vlog (video blogging) era. We can create and share many stories by taking many pictures and upload it to our own Instagram or Facebook account, just like others taking. Many of our followers will send “like” notifications to photos or videos that recently update. And there is nothing wrong with this and you may doing it. But, if you want to tell your story differently, try sketching. By making sketches or drawing, you have to be able to record what you are living through. There are so many moments happened in our live, even in one day. And sometimes we have time limitation to tell all the moments or stories. With sketching, we have to choose what the important thing that impact us a lot. People will appreciate more on your sketching than your photograph. People will respect with your effort to create memories. So there are no reasons that you will worry or afraid that people will judge your sketches is bad. Trust me, they will impressed and appreciate with your sketches.


This is Agnie, she is our flight attendant at QR957. When passing by my seat, she saw me drawing. Then asking my permission to take picture of my sketch and post it on her Instagram account. For sure, I give permission to her. Then she finished her duty and back again with her camera on a smartphone to my seat.


Agnie posting my sketch on her Instagram’s account. It’s such a big reward for me as sketches when people give appreciation for your artwork and voluntarily update or share your artwork on their social media account. And indeed, I am happy Qatar Airways passenger for their services and hospitality.

Why airplane?

Solitude and Time for yourself; give yourself a break. Airplane will gives you few hours away from all the social life, social media, and gadgets and helps you to know yourself better. People will do anything to spend the time during flight and make their trip enjoyable or memorable. In this situation, people tend to enjoy themselves. The enjoyment of being alone. When they put their headphone on their head or open their book, it’s a sign that can be read as do not disturb. Sketching also activity that make us focus or give ourselves a break. Airplane perhaps it is the perfect place to be away from gadgets and focus to create art. Just yourself with your pen and paper. Just like in the shower room, when we are alone, we can get a lot of ideas or simply can start to create something useful and meaningful.


My simple sketch on my morning flight with Garuda Indonesia GA102 CGK – PLM.

Small table in front of passenger is enough. There are no special tips or tricks that need to prepare to start making sketch or drawing at airplane. Simple, you just need your pencil or pens and paper or book. If you want to make your drawing more colorful, you may also bring your coloring pencils, water colors, markers or else. No drawing pad needed. Simply just use small table in the seat in front of you. Including with lamp above you that can help to make your table brighter. It’s enough to support your sketching activities.


An Even small table in front of us is enough to make a sketch. And the light source above our head also bright enough to sketch.

Almost no vibration. Today most of us will flight using Boeing, Airbus or others. They made modern and sophisticated airplane. From Boeing there are B737, B747, B777 or B787. From Airbus there are A320, A330, A350 and A380. And most of these type of aircraft are proven safe and comfort to fly. There will vibration during our flight, but in my opinion, it will be so low and even we are not considering it can bothering our activities. We can easily doing sketches on the table in front of us. If there are turbulences during our flight, we just stop our activities. But usually it won’t take a long time. The benefit of flight on 37,000 feet or above is we will have smooth journey. If we can maximize this benefit, we may create meaningful sketch that tell the story.


Trying to capture the interior look of Qatar Airways QR957, CGK – DOH, with Airbus A330-200.

So, if you want to try doing something new during your flight, please try to make sketch on your next business trip or holiday trip. Even if you feel you cannot draw. Even if you feel too old to learn drawing. Even you are not confidence enough with your drawing skill. Because not only artist, illustrator or designer that need to learn sketch. Everybody does. Now we may see that sketching can be an integral part of everyone’s brainstorming and design process or even the business process. Just try to sketch and enjoy it. Cheers 🙂


Final sketch of croissant on my flight with QR041. The real croissant as my sketch object already gone, eaten by my lovely daughter.

On the way back to CGK, I make an illustration of the trip from CDG – DOH – CGK with Qatar Airways QR38 and QR954. With using 2 pages as canvas, we got a wide view of a sketch so we can communicate more.

2 thoughts on “Sketching above 37,000 feet

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