studio diary

My Digital Commonplace System 🖍️ Studio Diary #8

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In this studio diary I am in Glasgow to visit the Botanic Gardens. I’ve spent so much time in this part of Glasgow over the years and somehow never went to the Botanic Gardens. I’m kicking myself after finally getting to visit. I love seeing the glasshouses (especially after visiting Belfast a few years ago).

There was also a second hand book sale on the weekend I was visiting which was well worth a visit. There was lots of ephemera on sale, postcards, photographs and newspapers, as well as lots of books. I ended up buying a few illustrations taken from a larger book which have worked well as a framed piece of art.

I also worked on a new calligraphy piece in this diary. It features a new style sans serif style I’ve been working on. Though I can’t say its truly “calligraphy”, probably more like lettering. I’ve come to find over the last few years that I love working on lettering pieces, but my brain stops me from ever seeing them as finished. You have no idea how many almost finished pieces of lettering art are saved on my iPad. I’ve been testing out a new method of getting around this problem by working with physical art as much as I can. I find that this stops me from constantly feeling like there are more changes I could make. Mostly because I physically can’t keep going back into the file to try out one more colour scheme.

Talking of digital systems, I have been updating how I use my commonplace book. More specifically, the commonplace database I currently have saved on Notion. This database actually started out in the Scrivener file I used for my dissertation. As it got larger (and more unweildy) I moved it over to Notion. My whole Notion set up is actually organised based on the advice from Building A Second Brain by Tiago Forte. I’m not a huge fan of this book but there are still some useful nuggets in it.

My one issue with Notion is that its a subscription based service. If I was able to buy a copy of the program, like I did with Scrivener, I would be more than happy to keep using it as is while running backups. But it’s not, and if I’m entirely honest, I don’t trust Notion to stay around long term. Not to mention the issues with it only working when you have a stable internet connection.

So we’re back to commonplace books. The only issue with that is sometimes I’ll have a huge number of highlights and notes in a book. Far more than its worth to copy by hand. This is where the rings system comes in handy. I have my grid pages already set up in inDesign, so it was easy to just transfer the content from Notion into my page template. Weirdly, I really enjoyed doing this. I spent a huge amount of time doing this sort of thing in university so it was nice going back.

These new pages went into the notes section of my Filofax, which I instantly moved into a new rings binder. This last month I’ve noticed I’m running out of space in my Filofax. I can’t complain too much about this as I still have my 2023 pages in it, as well as all the other bits of ephemera that I keep putting into the weekly section.

I’m really enjoying having this commonplace style rings set up. It’s more than just notes from books. I tend to think of my Notion page as a wiki. I’m not a huge fan of Notion’s database feature. I use it more for saving information. So I have lots of things I refer back to often. I have my business plan because it’s easy to update. As well as information I need to refer to often. It’s much easier to look this information up now that its on my desk. And I’m not worried if I need to update anything as it’s easy to do so.

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