Do you have a sketchbook? If you’re an artist, a design student, an illustrator, or anyone else that works in a creative-visual field you should draw and sketch frequently. A sketchbook is a great tool to help you do this. It’s a personal space dedicated to your vision, drawings, doodles and ideas. Not convinced? Here are ten reasons why every artist should keep a sketchbook.
1 – It’s a Fabulous Creative Outlet. This is probably the most important reason to keep a sketchbook. It’s your place to do your thing, just for you. As artists we need encourage our creativity and give it a place to grow. Draw what you want to draw, not what you’re being paid to draw, not what you’re expected to draw. Draw it for you. This is what will make your sketchbook your personal space, and it will become a fabulous creative outlet.
2 – It reminds you to sketch. I’m surrounded by paper, sticky notes and note pads, but my sketchbook is just for sketching. I’m not going to write a grocery list or “to do’s”. It’s special. Just having one reminds me to draw. It will remind you too.
3 – It’s a safe space to express yourself. No one needs to see your sketchbook except you. The work that fills the pages doesn’t have to be brilliant and most of the time it won’t be. That’s OK. A sketchbook has a cover. Close it if you don’t feel confident. Open it up and share it when you do.
4 – Practice Makes Perfect. Drawing frequently will improve your skills. It won’t necessarily teach you new skills, but it will exercise the creative muscles. I get rusty when I don’t draw. When I start again my confidence isn’t there. Often the work doesn’t flow as well. But when I add to my sketchbook every day great things start to happen. Below is a sketch I did after several days of drawing every day. My self-assurance is evident in the strong marker strokes and contrasting hair.
5 – Track Your Progress. One of the things that is cool about keeping a sketchbook is even if you think the work you’re doing now isn’t great, you can flip back a few months and see how far you’ve come. It will increase your confidence and make you feel better about your work!
6 – Develop your Ideas. When I have an idea for a new project I’ll try it in my sketchbook first. If I like it I’ll do another. That will lead to another, and another, until I’ve really fleshed out the concept. (In the image below, a quick sketch of one of the dolls in my collection became a full-fledged collection of illustrations, now on sale at my Society6 Store.)
7 – Keep Track of your Ideas. If you put your ideas in a dedicated space, rather than a random piece of paper, they will be there whenever you need them. There are times when I’ve collected inspiration, put together a mood board, started sketching and…something will happen and the project will be derailed. But if it’s in my sketchbook I know I won’t misplace it.
8 – Social Media Magnet. Drawing daily means you always have something to share with your social media channels. Being a prolific artist is one very good way to gain a following, make sales, and meet new clients. If you work as a freelancer like I do, this is especially important. Often when I’m in the middle of a big project I forget all about the world outside. I start to feel like the job will last forever. It never does, and once it’s over there could be several weeks of no work. If you keep your social media channels fresh and updated, even with a quick sketch, you won’t have to reconnect with the world every time the jobs slow down. (Below, this quick black and white sketch of a new Bratz doll went mini-viral on me, gaining more “likes” on Instagram and Tumblr than any drawing so far.)
9 – Take Part in a Challenge. There are daily drawing challenges popping up on the web all the time. I’m currently taking part the Inktober Initiative, a challenge to draw with pen & ink every day of October. Your sketchbook is the perfect place to put a sketching challenge.
10 – Share your Sketchbook on an online portfolio site like Behance. My online portfolios are filled with my very best work, but sometimes it’s nice to show the world a more casual view. Upload photos of your sketchbook. It will help to create a well-rounded view of you as an artist. To see what I mean check out my Behance collection of Seriously Fabulous Sketchbooks.
For more sketchbook inspiration check out my Sketchbook Pinboard on Pinterest. I fill it with inspirational sketchbooks by other artists as well as my own drawings from my sketchbook.
So, do you keep a sketchbook? Do you think every artist should keep a one? Let me know in the comments!