Urban illustration of flavored ice vendor by Joana Miranda Studio

Happy end of summer! I hope these last days of August have been happy, relaxing and maybe even productive ones for you. They certainly have been for me! I’ve been making the most of every free moment to practice my craft of cartooning and illustrating. And I’m now happy to introduce my new urban illustrations to you.

New Urban Illustrations

Why urban illustrations? Years ago, on a trip to Portugal, I fell in love with a book in our hotel room called Lisboa by Urban Sketchers. The loose and playful quality of many of the sketches totally captivated my attention. Not to mention, of course, that I loved seeing my favorite Portuguese landmarks reinterpreted through the eyes of various artists. One disappointment, though, was that there were no really interesting people included in the sketches. Because I love to draw people and their humorous characteristics, I literally shelved my copy of the book – and the idea of urban illustration – as something that I appreciated but would never do.

What Changed?

Recently, I came across the illustrations of Ronald Searle. To say that they were like a revelation to me is an understatement. For one, it’s rare to find a cartoonist/satirist who also has an incredibly developed eye for environments and the locations in which his characters live. Seeing the illustrations in Searle’s Paris Sketchbook (you can watch a “walk through” of the book on YouTube) was enough to get me to run down to my local Moleskine store to buy a new sketchbook. Suffice to say, a little seed has been planted, and it’s fast taking root!

To That End…

Here’s an urban illustration sketch I did earlier this week on location at 285 Central Park West:

Urban illustration of 285 Central Park West by Joana Miranda Studio

While the above illustration doesn’t have people in it, I still feel like it is telling a story. The next day, I did this illustration on the corner near our local Whole Foods:

Urban sketch of flavored ice seller outside Whole Foods - by Joana Miranda

And today’s sketching project was also done just around the corner (interesting architecture abounds on the Upper West Side!):

Urban illustration of decommissioned Upper West Side church by Joana Miranda


You can see some of my very first urban illustration attempts towards the end of my previous Moleskine sketchbook:

Unlike my other sketchbooks, the illustrations I share in the video above run the gamut from sketches to finished illustrations. There are some awful illustrations and some really good ones, too. Although I debated about whether or not I wanted to “publish” the sketchbook, in the end I decided that it was important to share it. We’re bombarded constantly on Social Media by the appearance of overnight success. But the creation of interesting cartoons, illustrations and art is not an overnight process. And maybe more than any other profession, in this one, it IS the journey that is so important and, ultimately, enriching.


  1. Marta says:

    Where are the bad sketches? I didn’t see any of those…. 🙂

    • Joana says:

      Ah, that’s because as my SISTER you are biased. (Or, maybe you need a stronger eye glasses prescription?) 😉
      xox -Y.S.

    • Joana says:

      Thanks so much, Soma! I’m glad you enjoyed seeing my newest urban illustrations!
      🙂 Joana

  2. Mm says:

    I love the little guy in the orange shorts strolling past that gorgeous fancy building. Gives it a story. I like you, too. 😁

    • Joana says:

      Hi Mm, I’m so glad you like my latest! There were a bunch of funny people who strolled by that church as I was sketching, but in the end I decided to give Mr. Orange Pants a starring role. 🙂 xox – J

  3. Love your work, it always makes me smile. Urban sketching gives the artist a unique connection to a place or a building. It’s almost like meeting the architect.

    • Joana says:

      Hi Itching for Hitching,
      I’m so glad my illustrations make you smile! Spreading joy and humor is goal, so it’s nice to know when I’ve hit the mark. I hope you are doing well! Are you still enjoying living the life of a nomad?
      With all best wishes,

    • Joana says:

      I actually feel like all of my different efforts are beginning to coalesce into something that feels (finally?) right. Of course, it means that I might have to rethink my Etsy shop offerings, but I’m willing to do that. Mostly, I’m just loving having the free time to get out and sketch every day. 🙂
      xox – Joana

  4. nknightwrtr says:

    I love this style so much! There is so much detail to take in. I loved illustrations like these as a child and could stare at them long after mom or dad had finished reading the page. Much of my love of art was born in works like yours. Cheers.

    • Joana says:

      What a lovely comment! Thank you so much for looking at my work and for taking the time to write. You made my day!
      With all best wishes,

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