Monday, February 18, 2013

On-The-Go Studio -by Maple Lam

Once in a while, I pack up my "on-the-go" gears and work at a nearby coffee shop.  I like to pick and choose my tools, depending on what I will be working on.

The key is to travel light but still have all the things you need.  :)

The tech stuff:

•  I use a small Artograph lightbox
•  I save everything on the external drive and put it back in my desktop when I get back to the studio.

The idea stuff:

•  I like HB & 2B for pencils & Zebra Clip-On with 4 colors + mechanical

The watercolor stuff:

•  I bought the small water color containers at a Japanese dollar-store.
•  I use the lids as water containers.  Fill both lid-containers with water.  Use one to clean up the brush, and the other one should always have relatively clean water.  When the water gets murky, I pour it into the "dirty" container and refill the lid with clean water.  It saves me time running back and forth the coffee restroom to get clean water.
•  For watercolor pads, I switch between Canson and Arches.
•  I bought the spray bottle at a local Target.

The other useful stuff:

•  I bought my mini scissors in Hong Kong, but there are some really neat ones online, like this one.

The entire studio:
(I can fit them all in my backpack if needed.)

My "on-the-go" gears are an accumulation of trials-and-errors as well as observation of how others work. I am sure through time, you too will find your personal perfect "on-the-go" gears.  When you do, please drop us a line on the comments below.  We would love to learn from each other!

Note: If you only have room for two things, bring your sketchbook and a pen/pencil.  They are your best friends!

Maple Lam illustrates and writes for children's books.  You can check out more of her work at


  1. So amazing Maple! Is your backpack the size of a fridge? Great post

    1. Thanks, Brian! No, no, I don't carry ALL my gears at once. I pick and choose the things I need for the day. (But I can flee with my entire on-the-go studio at moment notice.) :)

  2. That is great! I just wonder what you do with the light box when you are on the go?

    1. Sometimes I do quick sketches on 8.5x11 papers. When I see one of the images work, I use the lightbox to transfer the image onto my watercolor paper. If I don't have the lightbox with me, I just re-draw the image on the watercolor paper. The lightbox helps save me time to re-draw and erase.

      I also use the lightbox when I do graphic novel concepts. I like to draft character placements on the computer, print it, and use that as a guide when I use my lightbox.

      (I do the printing part at home, as I don't have an on-the-go printer.) :)

    2. Thanks for sharing, it is interesting having an insight into your process.

  3. Maple- Looks like you're ready for anything! I love this!

  4. This is an amazing post! Love how you've laid everything out. It makes me want to get my own on-the-go studio and head to the nearest coffee shop!

    1. Thanks, Kim! Glad you find it helpful. :)