This month has featured a lot of sketching and journaling, as I've been preparing for craft fairs and the Christmas shopping season. It's been a bit stressful at times, but I'm super excited to share my work (and this newsletter) with more people over the coming months!
I visited Jersey in the Channel Islands recently too, which offered a lot of fun sketching opportunities for my travel journal. That leads on to the topic of September's newsletter, which is all about sketchbooks and why I've been using them regularly for the past five years. I'll be sharing my top tips for using sketchbooks, along with some previously unseen drawings and scribbles.
Before you read on! A reminder that I am still exhibiting at the Catford Arts Trail today (if you're reading this on the day of release) and next weekend (5th/6th October), so come and say hello if you're in the London area!
Coming up this month: why I keep sketchbooks and a sketchbook tour.
Why keep a sketchbook?
If you’ve ever taken an art class during school, you’re probably familiar with the classic ‘keep a sketchbook’ homework task. Your teacher gives you a fresh, black book of 48 pages and asks you to draw something in it everyday. You take the book gladly (hey, it’s a free book) but what the heck are you going to draw in it? After all, the average life of a twelve year-old probably isn’t that exciting. Thankfully, if you’ve decided to take up a creative career or you’re simply looking for a new hobby, there are plenty of opportunities sketchbooks can offer.
Whilst I had the odd sketchbook during childhood, I didn’t really see them as an important tool in my life until the end of secondary school. The change came in around 2014, when I started following illustrators and artists on YouTube.
One artist in particular, then comic artist now animation designer Will Terrell, stressed the importance of keeping sketchbooks to improve your drawing ability. Looking back at my 2014 sketchbook in comparison to the work I’m doing now, he was definitely right!
From here, I set myself the challenge of filling up a sketchbook every month in an attempt to improve my skills. Five years later, I’m definitely not completing sketchbooks at quite the same pace (try six months in some cases) but they still remain a helpful tool to organise my life, keep track of projects and journal my experiences.
The point to stress is that, like notebooks, every person uses their sketchbook differently - presentable, messy, public or private. It’s whatever works for you.
In the rest of this post, I’ll be going into my top three uses for sketchbooks, along with some examples from between the pages.
Being stuck at the same desk everyday, it can be easy for drawing to become a bit of a chore. Drawing trips are a fun way for me to remember why I fell in love with drawing in the first place! I'll often start a new book for these trips, making sure I remember to stick in any receipts, tickets or menus I pick up in-between sketching.
Drawing new scenery really encourages me to explore somewhere new and absorb the sights. I won't sketch everywhere I go, and I like to keep my sketches loose (the ink drawing above probably took under 15 minutes) but the few scribbles I do get down are normally enough. At the end of it all, I get a book I can flip through a few years down the line to spark memories of the holiday.
I always travel light when it comes to equipment, usually sticking with a 0.3 pen, water brush and pocket-sized watercolour palette for the longer colour sketches. I travel with a film camera (my trusty Olympus AF-10) on most trips too, so I'll stick in the negative prints at the back of the book, making a kind of scrapbook-sketchbook hybrid.
I dabbled with using my sketchbook as a diary for events back in 2017. This was towards the end of my first year at university, when it probably felt like time was whizzing by a bit too fast. I didn't do much outdoor sketching, so instead I would note down some of the things I did that day: food I ate, places I visited, music I was listening to. It's a practice I wish I'd kept up a bit longer, as I really enjoy looking through these books. It does take a certain level of vulnerability though (even with yourself) as the more you document is the more you have to look through later...
This technique can be great for self reflection, but it's pretty translatable to printed media too. Diary comics and introspective media seems to go down pretty well in the current market, with authors like Eleanor Crewes even publishing their personal anecdotes.
Keeping track of ideas
Jotting down new ideas is by far my number one use for sketchbooks this year. Not only is it great for coming up with concepts in the short term, but I love being able to flick through books from previous years and steal ideas from my past self.
They're by far never pretty, and I doubt anyone else but me would understand my thumbnails - but it's a perfect springboard for me to move the piece on into a digital format. I'm sure my college teachers would be glad to know that thumbnailing before making a final product hasn't died a death yet!
If you'd like to hear me talk more about idea generation, check out last month's newsletter, 03. The search for ideas.
September shop update
It's been a busy month for the shop, as I've expanded my poster and greetings card range! Below is a slideshow of all of the new products I've launched in the past few weeks.
Among the highlights are an ever-expanding range of sport-pun birthday cards, a guide to beer drinking (keep it responsible, folks) and two new houseplant posters. My list of product ideas is ever growing, so you can look forward to more content before the end of the year.
You can check out the whole range and more in the shop. Happy browsing!
Some stuff I’ve been enjoying this month
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See you next month!
- Georgina :)
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