Boarding Pass – Kim Sly

Any time I see city inspired art, I can’t help but wonder how the artist behind it travels. So it was great fun getting Kim Sly‘s responses in so we could get an insider look into how she travels. Her city prints capture her hometown and some of her favorite places, and also places – like Chicago – that she dreams of going. Check out more of her work at Albie Design or in her Etsy shop. Thanks, Kim!

{Vietnam / Paris}
{Kim’s Portland print}

last trip taken:
Bend, OR to visit family. Bend is outdoor fun, good water, brilliant blue sky’s, and mostly just a breath of fresh air. Every time we visit, we think we should move here, but for us it’s probably best saved as a vacation spot!

Next trip on deck:
Spokane, WA to visit my oldest and dearest friend who lives there now, but is from Portland and misses it desperately. I think she needs a visit from some of her ladies back home.

{best friends}

one place you would go back to again and again:
Vietnam, I was born in a small fishing village called VUNG TUA and lived there for the first few months of my life until I was brought to the US to live with my adopted family. As an adult I had an opportunity to return with my husband and visited several cities in South Vietnam. I could not possibly do this place justice with my description considering my lack of literary talent. All I can say is that I loved every minute, from stepping off the plane and getting in to the craziest cab ride ever taken, to visiting the incredibly heartbreaking orphanage that I was in as a baby. We had only a few weeks, but I would love to go back with my own children when they are older.

{orphanage, Vietnam}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
San Francisco! I know it’s not really an exotic destination, however my husband and I lived there for several years, and my first son was born there. Of course I tend to romanticize the city now that I don’t live there, but it will always be our city! If I could have transported my family & friends (and won the lottery) I would have never left. In fact our time there, inspired my city series prints. I know how much people (including myself) love their cities whether it’s their hometown, a honeymoon destination, or their college town, people seem to attach themselves to cities like family. Similar to your family, while you’re there in the middle of it all, you might complain about it and even want out, but when you are away from it you want nothing more than to be back. And when a city creeps in to your life for whatever reason, your sense of pride and ownership of that place seems to mirror that unconditional love that you have for your family. I have been on the look out for a long time for great city art that reflected much of that nostalgia, but the designs I tend to gravitate towards are mostly cityscape silhouettes, and I wanted something equally modern but a bit more whimsical and personal. Yet, probably most important to me, at the same time in a moment’s glance I wanted the city to be recognizable.

{San Francisco print}

preferred method of transportation:
Train. After college I traveled Europe for several months and obviously took the train every where. I have to admit I haven’t done much train traveling recently, but that’s because most of my traveling is domestic and a plane or car trip is more practical.

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Chicago, I’ve only flown through it, but have yet to spend any real time there. Not only do I owe one of my closest friend’s a visit there, but I fell in love with the city after researching it for one of the city prints. Right or wrong in my mind it’s a modern day Venice, I absolutely love how the Chicago River runs through this city and divides some of the most amazing and inspiring architecture in the US.

place you’d never go back:
Nothing comes to mind.

{apartment, Vietnam}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
Vietnam, but since I’ve already talked a bit about it, I would say backpacking across Europe when I was 22. I can summarize that trip up in one word. YOUTH!!

how do you prepare for a trip?
Very last minute, my husband likes to plan I don’t. I tend to try to jam as much stuff as possible in to my suitcase.
how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
Mostly pictures.

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
Probably the architecture and every day life.

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
It’s hard to say, but probably not that many. we tend to come home with less than a hundred shots per trip.
what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
For camera, we recently bought a Nikon D50, and it’s a great traveling camera as well as it takes pretty good shots. I do bring a sketchbook for most big trips, but to be honest I normally work from pictures. I don’t usually have a lot of free time to sit down and sketch, so I work from pictures that we snap along the way.

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
Sadly, I don’t normally immortalize our trips in anything other than the pictures taken, and/or a drawing or painting typically done some odd years later.

{Brussels, Bruges}

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
There isn’t one thing in particular that stands out, however I would like to start collecting pottery or something handmade from places traveled.

Albie Designs on Etsy

You can find all past editions of BOARDING PASS here or search the column on the right!


  • Love Kim’s artwork. And pretty cool that San Francisco inspired her city series. Being from the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley), I totally take this area for granted. I often wish I weren’t from here, so that I could have moved here and would therefore *truly* appreciate it. It’s sometimes hard to *see* a place (what’s so charming and special about it) when it’s always been home, you know?

  • Kim, so great to have you!

    Bronwyn, I’ve never been to Bend, but had a friend who spoke highly of it.

    Risamay – yes, great prints!!! :) And agreed, it’s always different for an insider/outsider.


  • Kim, Your cityscapes are awesome!! Being from San Francisco, I love that one… but my husband is from Boston, so love that one too. When are you going to do a Hong Kong one? Soon I hope!!!

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