(All images from Léonard Combier)
What we do with a full passport says a lot about who we are as travelers. Sentimental traveler tucks theirs into a drawer for posterity. Country counters keep it with them at all times to prove their feats at cocktail parties. Some simply throw theirs away, wiping the slate clean for a new book of adventures.
French artist and self-proclaimed doodler Léonard Combier does something a little different: He turns passports into canvases.
It all began during a boring college lecture. Combier had nothing on which to doodle, so he picked up a pal’s passport.
"I asked him if I could draw on it. He really enjoyed the idea, so I did, and the result was better than expected. So I continued," Combier said.
Combier is a self-taught painter and illustrator. He began drawing as a child and never stopped.
Since the website Doodler’s Anonymous posted about Combier’s work in January, his Facebook page has been blowing up with requests for him to decorate people’s old passports — and sometimes even their current ones.
But the question remains: Is it legal to use a doodled passport?
According to the United States Department of Justice customs “proscribes the forgery, alteration, etc., of passports or the use of or furnishing to another of a forged, altered, void, etc., passport or purported passport. It applies to instruments issued or purportedly issued by foreign governments as well as by the United States.”
But Combier said that he hasn’t heard of any problems with people using his altered passports.
"As far as I know, no entry to a border was denied with one of my drawings on a passport," he said.
As for which countries have the best visas to decorate, Combier does not have a preference.
"I wouldn’t say that some countries have cooler visas to decorate than others. It depends on the drawing I do," Combier said. "For instance, on the U.S. visa, you have the word ‘admitted,’ so I drew a man with a T-shirt ‘I was admitted.’"
You can find out more about Combier on his website and Facebook page and even ask him to decorate your passport. Of course, you do so at your own risk. It may look pretty, but we still aren’t sure if you will make it home.