May 12, 2012

The Sketchbook Project

This post is about sketchbooks, specifically an innovative and very cool project called The Sketchbook Project, which is a way to share peoples' sketches and drawings with the world. 

Whether you're an artist or not, keeping a sketchbook is a fun, enriching practice, and one that does not even require you to be an accomplished artist. A sketchbook is a way to express yourself, without judgement or reservation. It is a place for your mind to run free, to unshackle your creative spirit without worrying whether what you put in it is "good enough".

Keep a sketchbook. It's good for you.

     The Sketchbook Project is a six year old project with a very cool mission, one I might participate in. For $25, anyone, artist or not, can fill out a custom sketchbook they send you, return it, and it gets added to the Brooklyn Art Library, where anyone can read through it. The project offers intimate glimpses of people all over the country, and hosts roadshows in various cities where people can see these sketchbooks for themselves. The library has roughly 12,500 sketchbooks on its shelves. For an additional fee, it will scan and digitize your sketchbook, so that anyone with an Internet connection can see what you've created. Pretty cool, huh?

To learn more about this project, click on the banner above, or HERE. This is a short video explaining The Sketchbook Project:

What do people draw in their sketchbooks? Lots of things! Memories of their childhoods, dreams of future plans, images that popped into their heads they want to explore, ideas for a comic strip, drawings of their friends or partner, or a cool building they happened to see while having that double mocha latte frappacino at Starbucks (or whatever the heck one orders there; I hate Starbucks).

The point is, there are no rules, no limits, and no judgments. That's what makes a sketchbook so liberating and special.

Keep a sketchbook. It's good for you.

I recently picked up an excellent book called An Illustrated Life, which is a book about the sketchbooks of artists. I find artists' sketchbooks utterly fascinating. The artists describe how they view their sketchbooks, their creative processes, and and how sketching helps them. Some view it as a form of therapy, others see it as a way to try out ideas and practice their art without worrying about if it's good enough or not.

I highly recommend this book. 

I have kept a sketchbook for years, and after reading this book, and seeing other artists' sketchbooks, I have started a smaller one that I take with me everywhere and sketch in almost daily. Notes, diagrams of costume ideas, funny anecdotes, you name it. Below are some sketches from an earlier sketchbook:

This is a page where I was working out how to arrange the dialogue and panels for a graphic novel I never finished. I find having this work space to figure this stuff out is very helpful and allows me to produce a higher quality page when I create pages for my graphic novel.

[click on pictures for larger size]

This is a charcoal pencil study for a painting I might do; I wanted to see if it was possible to create two worlds, one upside down, the other right side up, with a seamless joining. 

Strictly a design exercise. Note the two figures on the wall on the right, who share the same pair of eyes

Here I'm working out some random concepts to see if they will make good illustrations. Some of the best stuff you will do are doodles that you draw not caring a bit if they are good or not.

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