Maruko Evans was born in Taiwan and is a graphic designer and illustrator based in British Columbia, Canada. The pages of her journals are filled with lively drawings from her travels and inspirations from natural gardens around her. Maruko started out using TRAVELER’S notebook just like many others, to document her travels and illustrating the food she ate and places she’s been to. However, she also discovered that she was able to combine her love for junk journaling and collaging with the blank canvas that TRAVELER’S notebook refills provide.
Maruko had been working as a graphic designer in a prominent bookstore in Taiwan for years. Her artistic eyes had placed her in roles to enliven the window displays of the store, designing flyers for book fairs, interior design, as well showcase new products in creative ways. It was one of those moments when she discovered TRAVELER’S notebook. Attracted by the natural texture of the leather and the elegant shape, she bought her first TRAVELER’S notebook: Regular Size in Camel.
Her first refill of choice was the 012 Sketch paper notebook refill, made with drawing paper and filled with endless possibilities for the artist who uses it. She first started journaling about her travels. Her illustration skills from work transferred to her love for documenting food she enjoyed. As a hobby, she encountered and made friends in Kaohsiung City who would meet up and journal together at cafes or restaurants.
“In the beginning, I only used the Sketch paper notebook to draw what I eat every day. Most of it is about food (laughs). Then around six years ago I discovered a group of TN enthusiasts in Kaohsiung—they inspired me to buy a Camel Regular Size TRAVELER’S notebook. To me, it’s a whole new world. They stamp on the cover, sew patterns on the refill, and add charms to it. That’s when I start to pair and play my cover with the inserts.”
Since moving to British Columbia, Maruko embraced the peace and quiet of nature as opposed to her old busy lifestyle. She turns her imagination and creativity inwards and finessed her journaling and crafting as a way to pass time during the cold winter days. When the days are warmer, she enjoys visiting her friend’s gardens and be inspired by the beauty of nature and flowers that bloom throughout the seasons. She jokes that her own garden is not as lush, but she is proud of her own faerie gardens that she re-created with vintage items and ephemera alongside her niece during spare times.
“I really enjoy going into the forests. I find mushrooms, ferns, plants that I do not find back home. I have a few friends here with huge gardens, and I love all the flowers in different seasons. Flowers are so hard to draw because of all the details. It takes a lot of time, but I still try sometimes.”
A lot could be said about the artist when you look at their art. Behind Maruko’s soft and gentle demeanor, it is obvious that she is bursting with ideas. The fantastical scenes she crafts with paper speaks for itself across her TRAVELER’S notebook pages. Her love for art started young—her aunt gifted her a set of watercolors before she started kindergarten. She dove into drawing and creating art, and knew she wanted to become an illustrator when she grows up. In school she studied art design and mixed media, and that had evolved into the craft she still enjoys doing today.
“I know my style is not the most popular on Instagram nowadays. However, I really love them. Some people go out of their way to message me and let me know that, and I really appreciate it. It’s like they see my soul, and I know I’m not alone in doing this.”
Maruko describes junk journaling as a way to re-use old items and ephemera to record memories, thoughts, and ideas. Her style is a mixture of vintage, collage, and animated elements weaving throughout the story she creates for each spread. Some materials she finds in her travels from different cities, and some she dug from the bottom of a barrel at a local vintage market.
Despite her style not being the mainstream trend, she still finds people who appreciate her art and have conversations and deeper connection through expressing herself with TRAVELER’S notebook. Today, she still enjoys poking through vintage art supplies and secondhand shops to collect ephemera that will someday make it into her books.
“TRAVELER’S notebook allowed me to see myself in different ways and try different styles. (Your TRAVELER’S notebook) won’t happen in one day. It is the little things in your life that you start to collect that represents what you like. You put it in your notebook every day, and slowly it will take shape.”
Maruko describes TRAVELER’S notebook in one word: “freedom.” The feeling TRAVELER’S notebook evokes is the freedom to do whatever you want in it. Her notebooks are filled with things that represents feelings and moments in her every day. It could be as simple as recording food adventures, or as intricate as a faerie garden made from paper between the notebook pages. We hope you enjoyed reading about Maruko’s TRAVELER’S notebook story, and that you can embrace any piece of art you would like to create in your TRAVELER’S notebook too.
Have a nice trip!
Maruko Evans – Graphic designer and illustrator
Maruko is an illustrator based in British Columbia, Canada and had worked as a graphic designer at Eslite Bookstore when she lived in Taiwan. She loves making art and capturing fleeting moments through watercolor and junk journaling in her notebooks. She loves visiting her friend’s garden or take walks in the woods to enjoy the natural beauty British Columbia offers. In her spare time, she loves browsing vintage and second-hand stores to find new additions to her art studio. You can enjoy her artworks and creations on Instagram: @iammaruko88 and @myhappytable88