Author and Travel Show Host Rick Steves
Somewhere in the neighborhood of a decade ago, my wife and I took a honeymoon trip to Europe. To celebrate this anniversary, we decided to make another voyage overseas – this time with a couple of little ones along for the ride! I am planning a full write-up on this trip, to include some lessons learned…but I think that post is going to take some time to formulate. I want to share some photos and thoughts about the places we visited, but trying to tie all of that together probably isn’t fit for one writing session. In the meantime, I thought I’d put something together about someone who was a great resource for information about traveling in Europe in advance of this trip – travel show host and author Rick Steves.
Prior to about a year ago, I had actually never heard of Rick Steves. My wife and I started game-planning this Mediterranean vacation about a year prior to the trip, and when mentioning it to a coworker, he brought up Rick Steves. Apparently almost everyone else at work knew of the guy but me! So, the basics: Rick Steves is the host, writer, and producer of Rick Steves’ Europe on public television and Travel with Rick Steves on public radio. He’s a fairly popular figure in public broadcasting, which I think is tied to a couple of factors. One is the overall theme to his shows and books, which is encouraging travelers to explore outside of the usual tourist paths. In his words, encouraging Americans to become “temporary locals.” Another is his personality – he has a very pleasant way about him. Rick Steve’s demeanor to some extent reminds me of Bob Ross, Mister Rogers, Steve Irwin, and other such easy-going personalities.
Beyond his public television and radio presence, Rick Steves can also be found in other mediums. One that we leaned on heavily was his YouTube channel, which has a great video on Mediterranean cruising tips. I’ve embedded that video above; it’s a bit long, but definitely worth watching if you’re generally interested in such a trip. He has also written books on travel which are excellent. My wife actually bought his book “Rick Steves Mediterranean Cruise Ports,” which she thoroughly consumed, making notes and highlighting items of interest. Additionally, he has a ton of free resources available to travelers on his website, such as videos, audio tours, and extensive travel tips. You can check all of this stuff out at his site: https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen.
As I’m in the habit of doing, I figured a great way to pay tribute to an interesting character like Rick Steves is to draw a portrait! So, here’s how that drawing went:
In my opinion, the most important question to consider when discussing a finished drawing is; does it actually look like the subject? I feel like this is a much finer line than some people might think. Basically, a few well (or poorly) placed/shaped shadows can mean the difference between a solid likeness or instead hearing “who is this supposed to be?” I have gotten better at walking that fine line over the last few years, but I still never consider that to be a given! And I do worry about the direction I’m going while some of these drawings are in process.
All that being said, I believe this Rick Steves portrait was a good result! It passes that first test, in that I think it looks like him. The scene in question, where I took inspiration from, is from the video I embedded previously…although I can’t remember where exactly it was in the video. I think I captured his look in that scene with some accuracy. Some of his major distinguishing features seem on point, such as his smile, eyebrows, glasses, and hair style. I also did a pretty good job on his clothing and the drink he’s holding.
One area that I don’t think translated as well was my use of color. I tried to emphasize shadows, but somehow seemed to overuse the grays. The extensive gray coloring to show contour and depth seems to have given the drawing somewhat of a comic/stylized effect, rather than the sense of depth I was going for. It’s not a disastrous failure, in the sense that it doesn’t ruin the drawing. But it is not exactly what I was trying to do.
If you want to see a time-lapse as this drawing came together, I’ve embedded the usual YouTube video above. This is just the slideshow style progression, rather than an actual video recording. I’m still not sure if those are as useful, but they are certainly easier to make. Also, speaking of YouTube, I am currently marveling at how unpredictable video popularity seems (at least from my perspective). My videos are usually quite lightly viewed, but for some reason I had one I made on my impressions of Valve’s Steam Deck device go absolutely crazy. Well, not “viral” or anything, but compared to my other stuff, it’s certainly uncommon traction. A dozen views for a new video would be around normal – this Steam Deck review has like 3,000! Very surprising.
Anyhow, as I mentioned from the top, I do still have more to say about our European travel. Although Rick Steve’s website is an incredible resource, I also want to share some additional things we learned. It’s taking me some time to compile everything, but hopefully that may help someone along the way. And I thought it might be cool to share some photos we took of the beautiful scenery and buildings! So, more to come on this topic soon.