art & design

The Sketchbook Project 2018

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Sketchbooks are great. I spend a lot of time working in sketchbooks. So when I came across the Sketchbook Project from the Brooklyn Art Library I knew this was something I had to try.


The aim of the Sketchbook Project is to create a library of sketchbooks. Visitors can go in to the Brooklyn Art Library and check out sketchbooks to peruse. The great thing about this project is you don’t need to be a good artist to take part. Anyone can visit the Sketchbook Project site, buy a sketchbook, fill it up with art then send it back. All the sketchbooks sent back are then put on display for everyone to see. The really good ones are even taken on tour around the US.

Every person taking part gets a 5 by 9 sketchbook with 32 pages. From there the artist can change the sketchbook in whatever way they want so long as the barcode sticker remains on the back cover and it stays at the 5 by 9 size. With my sketchbook I decided to keep the cover but change the paper inside. I love book binding and I knew the paper it came with wouldn’t hold up to large amounts of paint. I cut 8 sheets of Fabriano Artistico 90lb Watercolour paper down to size and bound the whole thing back together with the original cover. This made a saddle-stitch bound sketchbook with 32 pages.

The Sketchbook Project has a number of themes for the artists to choose from, which you can then use as inspiration to create artwork in the sketchbook. However I had a very specific project which I wanted to use this for. That being my sister’s wedding invitations.

So far the only direction I have to go in is ‘flowers’. It is most likely the invitations will be more illustrative than pure design so I’ve started out by illustrating flowers. Currently I’m not linking this to weddings in any way. I’m just drawing flowers to see what I like. I started incorporating some calligraphy elements into the illustrations because I love the way it looks. And I think it could give the invitations a nice look.

The most important thing is that it’s my sister’s wedding, whatever I create has to look nice. So this sketchbook is a great way for me to practice and by the time I come round to actually designing the invitations I should have a good idea of the direction and style.

The only downside of this project is you have to send the sketchbook back. I do quite like that you don’t get to keep the work. However considering the content of my sketchbook it would have been nice if I could keep a copy.

When buying a sketchbook you also have the option to add digitisation. I haven’t done this because it adds another $35 onto the cost of the sketchbook but its something I would seriously consider doing.

The great thing about this project is you don’t need to be a good artist. It’s a way of encouraging you to make something. Has anyone else taken part or are thinking about taking part?


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