Jo Romero's drawing of The Foresters Arms, Reading

In the Spotlight with Jo Romero


In the Spotlight is a Q&A series with artists making a living from doing what they love. 

I caught up with Jo Romero aka Sketcher Joey to find out about her creative process, her working day and why artists should connect and share their skills



Tell me about the art you create?

I create drawings and paintings of buildings, both local and further afield. I use mainly pen, watercolours and acrylic paints.

I’ve also created some historic portraits using descriptions of people in history, which I’ve used to complement the release of my recent book about Medieval women.  Forgotten Women of the Wars of the Roses 


It was amazing to help bring these women to life, not only through words but also to portray them how they may have looked at the time, too. I visited some of their effigies to do this, and researched colours of clothes they would have worn from their wills too.

I also create wall mural paintings with Amy at Two Lost Birds.

How did you get into this work?

I have always drawn, ever since I was a small child. But after I left university I worked in various sales and office jobs, so my art fell to the side.

I was a food photographer and recipe developer, but after I had Covid in 2020 I lost my sense of taste and smell and could no longer create recipes. So I started to enjoy drawing again, posted a picture up on Instagram and it became instantly popular!

Since then I’ve drawn hundreds of images of houses, castles, churches and
other much-loved buildings.

What does an average creative day look like for you?

On an average day, I get up, make tea or coffee and then sort any household jobs.

Then I get out my materials and draw for a few hours – a house portrait usually takes me up to about six hours.

After around three hours I’ll have a break, maybe walk the dogs in the woods or do some more household jobs. And then I work again.

In the spring, summer or early autumn I often take my sketchbook with me and head out on my bike and sketch a church or street ‘live’.

I love live sketching, it adds so much to the experience and I can capture more of the ‘personality’ of a building, including some hints as to what it’s used for and people passing or visiting.

My favourite thing is to draw a pint of beer on a pub’s garden table, it adds a bit of personality.



What range of mediums do you work with? 

My favourite mediums are pen and watercolour, but I also love working with marker pens or brush pens. Fineliners and brush pens are great for capturing a scene quickly, especially if there are people milling about in there.

Adding people gives a sketch so much life. You’re capturing a real moment in time that will never be repeated again!

Do you have a favourite time of the day to be creative?

It completely varies. I used to get up early, and found it was the best time to draw. Now, I tend to drift more into the early afternoon and sometimes work on something after dinner.

It’s nice when the house is quieter and less hectic and I know all my other jobs for the day are out of the way.

Do you have any rituals or practices to help you get into the creative zone?

Usually just a cup of tea and a look through reference pictures, or some research into local buildings.

Sometimes I'll go for a walk and it will give me inspiration. I’ll see a particular chimney against some foliage, or a certain view of a church through a wooden gate or arch, and I’ll want to paint that.

What are the different ways you monetise your art?

I take commissions for individual pieces – pubs, churches and wedding venues are popular, as well as houses. I also sell prints of these pieces, and attend a number of fairs and art exhibitions throughout the year. The mural work is another way I am able to carry out paid work as an artist too.

And what has proven to be the most successful of these?

Keeping a look out for local opportunities to display art and build relationships with the places that offer that has been really key.

I’ve also built relationships with some heritage organisations that have shared work of historic sites and buildings that I’ve drawn.

My drawings (in coloured pencil) have been really popular, particularly the one of Richard III’s queen, Anne Neville, as there are only two drawings made of her in her lifetime, and these were basic line drawings that didn’t really convey any aspect of her as a three-dimensional woman.


What social media channels have you had the most success on?

Instagram has been the most successful channel, although the YouTube videos of my time- lapses creating work are also popular.

I stick to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, I don’t have too many social media accounts on the go, it becomes difficult to manage.

Favourite thing about your job?

I just really love working with colour and to be able to do that and create work that others enjoy is a great feeling.

Being able to combine my love of history with my passion for drawing is also
wonderful, it satisfies two of my loves in one go!

And the biggest challenge?

Keeping up with social media posts is sometimes a challenge, but it's easily fixed. I usually schedule them in advance.

With mural painting, I have had to practice and get better at drawing and painting different subjects, so not just buildings but animals, flowers, trees and birds! All
it takes is some extra practice and sometimes a bit of homework.

What things boost your mood?

Lots of vibrant colour – when I look back at my drawings I notice that over the years my paintings have become more vivid and vibrant.

I also love drawing outside on a sunny day, talking to people – once I was drawing a church when a lady came along to take in fresh flowers and she unlocked the door and offered to give me a little tour!

What plans do you have for the future work-wise?

Lots of murals are booked for the summer and beyond, and I always love the reaction from the customer when it’s completed.

I have lots of historic buildings to draw, and hope to complete more commissions, too.

I also have another history book coming out next year, and I’ll be completing some portraits based on the people in that, too.

What tips would you give to any aspiring artists?

I always tell people to connect with other artists rather than seeing them as competition.

I have had opportunities come up for me that would never have happened without the connections I have made with other artists.

I’m grateful for those that inviting me into their studios and homes to show me techniques, chat about equipment they use and come along with me sketching.

It’s the only way I think that we can progress by sharing new ideas, ways we work and generally encouraging each other along the way.

Find and follow Jo here:

Website: SketcherJoey

Instagram: @SketcherJoey


YouTube is:


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