Last year I purchased a sketchbook from The Sketchbook Project from the Brooklyn Art Library. I had comprehensive plans for it, just like everything else in my life in 2020. It ended up turning into a collage and drawing sketchbook about my feelings throughout this year so far. The deadline slowly, but also unknowingly approached and photography became a straightforward way of completing the sketchbook.
I have always used sketchbooks in the past for art classes, but never just as one to do whatever with. I now realize they are essential things to any creative process. I have discovered the art journaling, taking notes and keeping information is more easily remembered in these little books if you always have them with you.
Art is a process, and brilliant ideas come with a lot of thinking and planning. So if you’re not keeping a sketchbook even for photography, here’s five reasons you should.
1. Develop Ideas
If you are anything like me you have a million different things running through your head a day. You also have a million more for photo shoots or drawings. Sketchbooks help hash out those ideas to see if they are even viable.
Sketchbooks also helps develop over all visions about bigger projects like a series or themes you want to explore. Often when I have one idea, it will lead to a series of other ideas related to the first. Hence, creating a series or theme you didn’t think of before.
2. It’s a Place to Safely Express Yourself and What You Are Feeling
A marvelous thing about a sketchbook is you don’t have to show it to anybody. Like a written journal, it’s a visual place for your thoughts. It takes the pressure off to be perfect and just make whatever pops into your head.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Want to get better at making art? Drawing? Observing? Or new ideas? Practice. Every day. And there’s no better place to do it than a sketchbook, because sketchbooks don’t have to be perfect. Also, by keeping a sketchbook you can see how much you have progressed and use it as inspiration to continue.
4. It Becomes a Source of Inspiration
Maybe you are stuck on what photo to take next or series to work on for your blog. Flip back through your sketchbooks. Was there something, an idea, there you wanted to expand on? Maybe a pic you forgot about or a quote that sparked a painting?
Having ideas to go back to means you’ll never run out of inspiration. You’ll never run out of ideas. You’ll never stop creating.
5. It Helps You to be Mindful and Live for Today
Do you see things in your day to day that you wish you could remember? That inspired you to create? I do all the time.
Sometimes I put the inspiration and idea in my phone, but I never remember to look at them later. When I have a small sketchbook that I can fit in my purse I am much more mindful of the things I see. I’ll often stop to look longer, write more details, or even draw the scene. I am excited to review what I wrote or drew that day. I am thankful for it.
Bonus tip for photographers:
I know a sketchbook might seem like a silly thing for photographers, but for product, stock, flat lays and even portrait sessions they are helpful.
See my photo of stock photo sketches I have planned out below? I do this so when I am shooting I can immediately move into the next scene without having to use valuable brain power deciding what I will do next. I have so many other thoughts in my mind to think about, I can’t make up scenarios as I go.
Sketching allows me to free up brain space to focus on camera settings and the best lighting for each shot. It also helps save time by allowing me to pump out photos quickly because I already thought of everything else.
The best thing about a sketchbook is seeing your growth not only as an artist, but as a person. It will boost your creativity and your mind.
Frankly, it’s hard to know what to say after all the events that have transpired since January. It feels like a lifetime ago, already. There are so many people arguing and divided that it sometimes just feels hopeless. There are so many things I want to say, but don’t know if I should say or even if it’s the right time to say them. If I say them will they even help? I have no idea. No one knows how the rest of this will pan out. I truly believe we haven’t hit the bottom yet, but again, who knows.
There is one thing I do know it’s that things need to change. How can I contribute to that change or at least the change I want to see? The only change I have control over is the change within myself and the environment I create. If I believe that we need more diversity in the creative community it starts with how I create. If I believe we need to be more environmentally conscious that starts with changing the way I create. If I believe art can change our view of the world it starts with me changing what I create.
I am tired of seeing our creative community chase trends to get Instagram or Facebook famous. I want this community of photographers and artists to use their work to really say something, make an impact with it, care about what you are putting out into the world. If you’re not doing that, than what’s the point of art in the first place? Because if it’s superficial than aren’t you using your influence to create more superficiality. Let’s not do that OK? Let’s start to care about our work again and give it some quality.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that art doesn’t have a place in politics or beliefs it just needs to look pretty. But that’s where you are wrong, so wrong. Art has had long history of pushing societal boundaries and shaping spans of history. Have you taken an art history class? Art is an important function in expressing societal issues. It has great emotional impact on people. One photo, video, painting, etc. can spark an entire movement and has for a long time. It’s how we as a society spread messages of change.
Here is an amazing article of the history of protest art and how it’s impacted social movements. https://www.format.com/magazine/features/art/brief-history-protest-art
And if someone says they don’t like you’re art because of the message you are trying to convey than guess what? You’re doing right. You’re making change and making a difference. Keep using your voice to make change. And if you’re not, deeply look inside yourself and understand why you are making art. Maybe you just want to bring happiness into the world and that’s OK too, but use it for good, use it to say something, use it for change. Don’t hold back, just be you and what you believe in.
I don't often share looks inside my sketchbooks, but lately I have drawing, collaging (is that a word) and painting things I am feeling. Maybe one day I'll make a poster on illustrator of some of them. We'll see what happens. For now it'll be a part of the sketchbook project, which you can find more information about here.
*Update: I did a quick graphic from this design in Canva because I wasn't planning on using illustrator for it, but thought it would be fun to mock it up. It was fun and I kind of like it! Here it is and feel free to share!