Friday, August 07, 2009

Too Many Sketchbooks

I had a great time traveling to NY last week. I think I packed pretty well for a week away. Except for sketchbooks. I put it to my friend Juana Medina when I asked, Do I have too many sketchbooks?

I have four. Each one has its special purpose.
  • A new 8 1/2 x 11 spiralbound book for new commercial projects (a comic strip idea and a graphic novel idea),
  • another sketchbook for doodling gag ideas (I draw on both sides of the page, dividing each page into 8 squares. I really get my money's worth out of this small book),
  • a third teeny, eentsy pocket sketchbook for doodling ideas for cartoon classes,
  • and a nice clothbound landscape book for drawing travel diaries (like in my Sketchbook collection -- a few copies of which are still available!); the black sketchbook, looking like a rectangular black hole, is in the lower right of the above photo.

And so Juana told me how organized I was, which was very nice and very flatterg. I told her that, although that's a nice thought, I think I am toting around just too much mass. Why not just have one, big, general sketchbook?

I am curious to hear if other people have more than one sketchbook and, if so, are the sketchbooks divided by project? Do you have a "nice" sketchbook for your best work and one "not so nice" sketchbook, for not so important drawings? Do your sketchbooks vary by the medium you use?


J. Lemon said...

Fascinating. I have two. One for "public" viewing and one for "private ideas". Plus a lot of paper scraps. Oh, and then there's the one next to the bed with the pen that lights up so you can write in the dark. Maybe four isn't too many at all.

Kevin Spear said...

Lately, I've mainly used a steno notebook. It's good for jotting down ideas but not very good for an artistic bent. Those blue lines get annoying. Besides, notebook paper just doesn't do much for my artist side.

In the past, my problem has been I put everything in one book. It's easy to keep track of, but may not be the best for different projects.

You've inspired me to go to the art store. I need to get something when I'm in more of a drawing mood.

paula said...

I think your bounty of sketchbooks sounds well organized and thought through. It's very similar to what I took on my latest trip. I had one 7 x 7" hardbound designated for the trip itself and sketching scenery, flowers, and what-not (I also did some cartooning in it, but it was trip-related); then a smaller 5 x 7" spiralbound so I could put a pen in the spiral and whip the whole thing out quickly. I also brought along another spiralbound sketchbook if I wanted to spend time working on work-related (cartooning, illustration) ideas. Lastly, I had a small 3x5" lined, spiralbound for jotting notes of any kind. So four books in all; just like you. Then a small arsinal of pens, pencils, colored pencils and watercolor pencils. It took a few days to figure out what I eventually needed with me everyday, ending up with the two sketchbooks and some pens, with a choice few colored pencils which all fit nicely in my canvas Tilley bag/purse.

I, too, wondered if it was too much (or too little--no watercolors) but I think it was the perfect combo despite that I didn't use the latter two sketchbooks this time around.

Mark Anderson said...

I'm just not a sketchbooky kinda guy. I jot down ideas on slips of paper and collect them in a box. But once a cartoon is done the idea and the pencil sketch go into recycling. Weird I know, but that's how I've always done it...

Anonymous said...

I'm with Mark. I love sketchbooks and wish I made more use of them, but I don't gravitate to them naturally. I tend to use cheap copying paper for idea sketches when at home, and if I'm going to a coffee shop to brainstorm I'll take a tracing pad (something about drawing on tracing paper I like).

Jeff P.

Brian Fies said...

One, which I use for everything. But I like big ones (9 x 12), and if I were in the habit of carrying one around with me and sketching from life, like you do, I'm sure I'd get a pocket-sized one for that purpose. But, shamefully, I don't do that.

J. Lemon's reply interests me because he keeps one book for public viewing and the other for private use. I couldn't do that; I know many artists periodically publish their "sketchbooks," but for me it's a place I have to feel free to draw badly and make mistakes. If I had to worry about "somebody seeing this someday" everytime I sat down, I'd never draw anything. And how do you know which sketchbook a drawing belongs in before you start? Maybe a doodle turns out surprisingly good, maybe one you hoped would be good turns out embarrassingly bad.

However, like J., I also have a lot of paper scraps (I eat through Post-It Notes like you wouldn't believe, sometimes taping the good ones into the sketchbook) and a little notebook by the bed.

John Sheppard said...

I use anything ... spiral notebooks, legal pads, B+W composition notebooks for sketching ideas. I then write all my gag ideas into one notebook and use that as the Bible.

There's always several pads or books with stuff in them laying around.

Brian Moore said...

That's an impressive amount of sketchbooks, Mike! I got out of the habit and these days just doodle ideas on typing paper. Keepers get thrown into a folder. If I need to draw away from the studio I use a clipboard with a stack of paper.

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks for your terrific comments. Some very interesting choices here.

The Bullfrog said...

I tend to keep to one sketchbook when traveling- a smaller one that's easy to pack for my carry-on only flights. I'll start from the front for most drawings from life and cartoons, and flip it around to start from the back for my web design work and other more technical drawings and sketches. In that way it accomplishes the same goal of having two sketchbooks without taking up more space. Also when traveling I have a separate notebook for writing down ideas & stories. I keep a couple sketchbooks back at home for figure drawing and larger pieces. I'd love to reach a point where I only had one book to travel with that was an amalgamation of my writing, drawing, schematics, and ideas, but instead it's a couple books with ideas slightly more organized. It's good to hear I'm not alone in this plight.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
I work in illustration and design. I keep 3 sketchbooks, one for lifedrawing (and serious study), other for doodles (and funny scenes) and I make papercuts, so I have an sketchbook adapted for to make cutouts. I think that it help keep focus and an easier view of the process in each topic.