Happy Thanksgiving… and Black Friday!

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! Hope it is full of family, friends, fun, and feasting before you start thinking about shopping… but once you do… here’s a few gift ideas for your favorite notebook addict–perhaps yourself!

Brice Marden Notebooks: I posted about these recently, but hadn’t yet received my own copies of the facsimile notebooks. They arrived yesterday so now I can tell you firsthand that they are fabulous! A really cool glimpse at an artist’s jottings and other ephemera pasted into his sketchbooks from the 1960s.

Jean-Michel Basquait: The Notebooks: another interesting facsimile artist’s notebook.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, by Lynda Barry. Another facsimile composition book that I’ve posted about before. You can get lost in these pages for hours, and there are practical lessons for creativity too.

uni-ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Pens, Ultra-Micro Point, Black Ink, 4-Pack

Cheap pens are always a great stocking stuffer– these have the .38mm fine tip that I love, and they’re cheaper than the version sold at JetPens. As far as I can tell, the pen body is different but the refills inside are the same. I also love Pigma Micron pens for drawing. They come in lots of different sizes and colors:

Poetry Is Useless, by Anders Nilsen: Yet another piece of eye-candy with imaginative cartoons and doodles drawn in the pages of pocket notebooks.

For those who aren’t intimidated by a lot of empty pages to fill, how about the Art Alternatives Sketches in the Making Giant Hardcover Sketch Book. It’s 600 pages of 12.5 x 10.75″ paper! Make your own coffee table book!

Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers
Still one of my favorite books about sketchbooks. Always fun to flip through.

Freehand: Sketching Tips and Tricks Drawn from Art
Another fun and inspirational book, with different tips and techniques cross-referenced to the work of different artists.

There are lots of other great books, notebooks, and pens listed in the Notebook Stories Store on Amazon. Happy shopping!

Moleskine Monday: Sketch Album Review

I’ve had this Moleskine Sketch Album for quite a while and haven’t gotten around to reviewing it, mainly because I knew I’d probably be disappointed! Moleskine’s quality has been waning for years, and though their regular sketchbooks have been my favorite notebooks for a very long time, I’ve refused to buy any of the currently produced ones because they just aren’t the same anymore. Luckily, I have quite a stockpile of old ones! (After this post where I inventoried my spares and worried they might not last until I was in my 90s, I snagged quite a few more on eBay so now I probably have twice as many!)


Anyway, when the sketch album was first announced, I thought it was a good thing– I’d actually thought Moleskine should make a softcover sketchbook, thinking it could be a good alternative for on-the-go use. But the Sketch Album turns out not to be Sketchbook innards with a soft cover– it’s more like a Moleskine Cahier with upgraded paper.

When you open the shrinkwrap, you’ll notice the cardboard cover, which is just like the Cahiers, not the soft faux-leather used on the softcover notebooks. As usual there is stitching on the spine, and a pocket in the back, which is too tight for tucking much more than a few small sheets. When you remove the paper band, you’ll see that the back has been designed with some reference info and tools. I’m not sure how useful these are to most people.



Since Moleskine started labeling various notebooks as an “Art Plus” collection, they’ve started noting paper weights on the packaging, hoping to appeal to those of us who care about these things. The Sketch Album is 120 GSM. That sounds good compared to most upscale pocket notebooks, which tend to be in the 80-100 GSM range, but it’s a lot less than the regular Moleskine Sketchbook, which is 165 GSM. The difference is obvious– the paper in the sketch album feels thinner and floppier. Each sheet is perforated.


When I did my pen tests, I noticed that the sketch album paper actually feels softer to write on– I could hear the pen tips tapping more audibly on the regular sketchbook. The comparison below features an old “Modo e Modo” Moleskine  rather than a current production sketchbook. You can see right away how much worse the show-through and bleed-through is on the sketch album, with just a couple of exceptions. The album wins on how much the Accu-liner marker spreads when it is held on a spot for 5 seconds– the Modo sketchbook soaked it up and made a much bigger dot. And the Super Sharpie seemed to soak into the old sketchbook more too. But otherwise, the album did not do well at all, with fountain pens bleeding and feathering and lots more show-through. I tested some watercolor paints too– Moleskine does not claim that either of these notebooks is meant for watercolors, but I use them in the sketchbooks quite often. In the sketch album, the watercolors seemed to pull up the paper fibers more, creating a speckled texture that is much more noticeable than in the sketchbook.



So would I use this “Art Plus” sketch album for actual art? For pencil sketches, or perhaps fine pen & ink drawings with Pigma Micron pens, yes, I might use it. But I’d be much more likely to use it as an upgrade to the Moleskine Cahier or softcover Reporter Notebook. The sketch album is nicely flexible and pocketable, and the paper feels great to write on with fine point gel ink pens. The paper is a nice step up from regular lightweight Moleskine paper– not enough of a step up to make fountain pen users happy, but others will enjoy it for daily jottings. But if you are an artist who likes the regular sketchbooks, stick with them.

To buy: Moleskine Art Plus Sketchbooks and Albums on Amazon. They also have interesting alternatives like the Leuchtturm Hardcover Pocket Sketchbook Black, which has 180 GSM paper, and the Pen & Ink Heavy-Weight Blank Sketch Book— make sure you get the heavy-weight one which has 145 GSM paper– read the full description.

Story Supply Co.

Here’s another start-up notebook company, launched with a Kickstarter campaign. This one has a nice twist– for every 3-pack purchased, they will donate a notebook and pencil to a writing program for kids.

Story Supply Co. is banking on a demand for locally made products and socially conscious businesses as it markets its notebooks.

Read more at: Story Supply Co. aims to make using notebooks hip – The York Daily Record

Brice Marden’s Notebooks

I’d love to take a look through these:


On a page of his 1964–67 journal, underneath a small cutout of Manet’s 1862 painting of Victorine Meurent, Brice Marden wrote, “Cézanne tried to kill painting by denying forms for the sake of painting. He seems to have come closest to painting painting out … I think a painter should paint to end painting for himself and some others. With this in mind and man in mind it seems inevitable that painting will go on.”

Now two of Marden’s journals have been exquisitely printed by the New York–based publishing imprint Karma, in whose gallery space the drawings, the journals, and a monochrome painting—Portrait (1964–65)—are on display….

Throughout the notebooks, intensity of method combines with a mix of quotidian marginalia and endless detail of a life engaged with social and street activity. Addresses and lists creep across the pages; one scrap of paper has Richard Serra’s phone number on it; Carl Andre’s is on another. There are newspaper clippings; business cards; pulpy glamour photos; a vehicle removal ticket from the City of New York Police Department; ticket stubs from concerts such as Wilson Pickett at Village Theatre on October 7, 1967, and Johnny Cash at Carnegie Hall on October 23, 1968. The ticket stubs stand in, almost, as color swatches or samples for his paintings. On another page of his notebooks, Marden has repeatedly written—like a child practicing a cursive signature—the name Zurbarán, with a single word standing tall among the four attempts: “ART.”

Source: “Paint to End Painting”: A Look at Brice Marden’s Notebooks

You can buy the facsimile journals here.

Moleskine Monday: Blend Collection

Moleskine continues to mix up their product selection with unexpected departures from their standard styles. The latest is the “Blend Collection,” which feature woven cloth covers and contrasting elastics:

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 4.42.12 PM

The Moleskine logo on the back can’t be debossed as usual, so they’ve put it on a little patch:

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 4.45.58 PM

See more at Moleskine Blend Collection.

Paper Saver Notebook

Here’s an interesting concept– the Paper Saver notebook

“The Paper Saver turns your printed paper into a stylish faux leather notebook. Once the paper is inserted into the Paper Saver, it will become an elegant, professional notebook.”

It’s a nice idea– I always seem to have a mountain of paper to recycle in my office and like the idea of finding other ways to use it. With this notebook, you save a stack of paper, align it so all the blank sides are facing down, slide it into the pocket in one side of the cover, and then fold the pages over so the blank sides face up as pages for you to write on, all inside a nice professional-looking cover. It’s a bit weird that half your stack of paper is not accessible while it’s in the pocket, but I guess after you’ve gone through the pages on one side, you can slide them back out and turn the stack around. The only problem with that is if you need to refer to the notes you’ve written on the other side, now they are tucked away in the pocket. Actually, for me there would be one other problem, which is that the Paper Saver cover is made for A4 paper, so standard 8.5 x 11″ North American paper doesn’t fit inside. But if you are in a country where A4 is standard, it may be worth a try!

Read more at Paper Saver Notebook | Environment | Recycling – Home

Notebook Addict of the Week: Lukas

This week’s addict hails from Malta, where he’s amassed quite a collection! Here’s his photos:

lukas2015-07-06 18.49.06lukas2015-07-28 17.50.54lukas2015-07-23 09.49.02

I love seeing them laid out so neatly in rows, and beyond the obvious Field Notes and Rhodia and a few other brands I recognize, I think there are some European brands here that are less common. I’d love to know more about them!

Thanks for sharing your addiction, Lukas!

Eco-friendly notebooks at TreeHugger

TreeHugger features some eco-friendly notebook brands.

“Made entirely from recycled, sustainable, or tree-free fibers, these companies care as much for the environment as they do for aesthetics.”

I was most excited about the ones below–gorgeous stitched-spine pocket notebooks from Ciak that I’d never seen before, as well as some colorful versions of Calepino’s notebooks.


Source: Looking for a gorgeous eco-friendly notebook? Check out these 6 companies : Page 4 : TreeHugger

Chupa Chups Scented Notebooks

This is one of my weirder online finds: a $13 two-pack of notebooks, pages “specially scented with chupa chups flavors.”  I guess if you really like those lollipops, these notebooks are for you!


Source: Paladone | Chupa Chups Scented Notebooks – Set of 2 at ASOS

Mysterious HOM Notebook

Every so often, I’ll see a new brand of notebook that interests me, but I don’t feel like spending money on it. I usually snap a photo or write down the brand name, and then look it up online to find out more. Below is a photo I took of a notebook found several months ago in Brooklyn’s Book Court (a great independent bookstore):

hom notebook photo

Despite having the brand name (HOM, as far as I can tell), the name of the artist whose painting is on the cover (William Witenberg), and a SKU number, I haven’t been able to find out anything about this notebook! Nothing relevant seems to pop up in Google searches.

Does anyone else know more about this notebook?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin