Trawling through Instagram every now and again something leaps out, something unique, a break from cat photos and hideous selfies. Dubrovnik is quite clearly a magnet from travellers from all over the world and consequently social media sites are inundated with sunny panoramas. However, Alfonso Díaz does things slightly differently. His artwork of Dubrovnik, including a magnificent Game of Thrones guide map, brings new life to the stone streets. The Dubrovnik Times caught up with Diaz to find where he gets his inspirations for his traveltoons from.
Game of Thrones traveltoon in Dubrovnik
How did your love of travelling and drawing begin?
We're a couple from Mexico City. A month after we started dating, my wife moved to San Francisco, CA, to work, so I started visiting her on every opportunity I had. We wanted to make the most out of our time together, so I had to plan as many activities and side trips as possible on those days. But my love of travel comes from way before. Since I was a kid, my parents loved traveling as much as possible. I remember when I was five, my dad had a work trip to New York City and we all went along. My sister and I drew a map of the city, cutting photos from brochures and magazines to highlight the landmarks we wanted to visit. I guess this was my first traveltoon 26 years ago.
What were your impressions of Dubrovnik?
We travelled to Dubrovnik last November. We're about to have a baby girl, so we wanted to make an amazing trip before becoming full-time parents. My wife's great grandfather came from Hvar during the first World War, so she had always wanted to see the island. We took the opportunity to make a road trip and visit Hvar, Split, Mostar, Kotor and finally Dubrovnik as our last stop. We were not sure if it was the best time to visit Croatia, mainly because of the weather. But it was great. There were not so many tourists, so we were able to enjoy the city, walk through the walls and enjoy a Game of Thrones tour for just the two of us!
How difficult, or easy, was it to create your Dubrovnik art?
I try to draw as much as possible in my travel journal during our trips, in airports, benches, or while waiting for our food on a restaurant. We like talking walking tours to learn about the city, so the drawings are always based on as much facts as possible. I try to make each travel toon different to challenge myself. The hard part was drawing the Game of Thrones map. As I said before, we took a tour where we learned the main locations, but It was complicated to get as much details and characters as I wanted while remaining an easy-to-read infographic / drawing. I made some sketches while in Dubrovnik and on our way back to Mexico, but I couldn’t get it right until very recently. I think I draw better characters than landscapes or buildings, so the challenge is to practice and make them blend together nicely.
Are you two fans of Game of Thrones and was that one of the reasons to come to Dubrovnik?
Of course! I’ve read all of the books, and my wife likes the story (although after the red wedding, she prefers not watching the violent parts of the episodes). It was one of the reasons we wanted to visit.
How long does it take you to create one of your drawings?
As I said before, it depends. For the Game of Thrones map, after getting the idea right, it took me about 4 hours to turn the rough sketch into a clean-coloured drawing. For others, like the Orlando’s column one, it was like an hour for the whole process. I post 3 traveltoons a week, so I try to balance between short stories and complex infographics so I can keep up.
Alfonso Diaz and his wife enjoying Dubrovnik
You can follow the adventures of @mytraveltoons on Instagram to see more