Franz Marc’s Sketchbook from the Battlefield

If there’s one thing I love more than a notebook, it’s a facsimile notebook! I have been building up a small collection of books that reproduce artists’ notebooks or sketchbooks and they are among my favorite art books to flip through for inspiration.

I’ve already reviewed a few of them:

Lynda Barry’s Syllabus (buy here)

Diana Balmori Notebooks (buy here)

Brice Marden’s Notebooks (buy here)

Basquiat Notebooks (buy here)

My latest obsession is this gorgeous little volume, which I couldn’t resist buying when I came across it at the Rizzoli Bookstore in Manhattan:

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Franz Marc was a painter associated with the German Expressionist movement and the Blue Rider group. He fought on the Western Front in World War I, and made these drawings in a sketchbook during the year before he was killed. The drawings look like very fully worked-out studies for his paintings. A few of them have words or titles written in the margins, but they don’t feel sketchy or tentative at all– each one feels like a perfect little work unto itself, with nothing missing except the bright colors of Marc’s paintings. The book is beautifully produced– about 4.5 x 6.5″, fully cloth bound, with 36 drawings and a text at the back.  I love the way it captures the intimacy of a pocket sketchbook, and there is something very poignant about the idea of him having this sketchbook at hand and creating these beautiful works during horrific months at war.

I paid the cover price of $30 at Rizzoli, but as of this writing you can get it for more than half off at Amazon: Franz Marc Sketchbook from the Battlefield

Notebook Addict of the Week: Queen Katz

This week’s addict is another YouTuber called Queen Katz, this time with an all-Filofax collection: 18 of them!

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Watch the full thing at


Japanese Stationery

If, like me, you are dying to go to Japan to explore its stationery stores, you will enjoy the vicarious journey provided by this article and its luscious photographs. Enjoy!

Source: Japan: Paradise for Stationery Lovers



Review and Giveaway: Writersblok 2017 Planner

Writersblok is heading in some exciting new directions lately. I reviewed their most recent notebooks here. Now they’ve expanded the product line to include a planner for 2017. Let’s take a look!

From Kikkerland’s website:

“Keep all of your master plans safe and on schedule with this beautiful recycled leather Writersblok Planner. Back pages feature exclusive subway maps of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, redesigned solely for Writersblok planner. Also includes gorgeous and useful reference sheets. Part of the proceeds from Writersblok goes to literacy programs such as 826NYC in New York City. 826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.”


The exterior design is very similar to the notebooks– plain black cover, with an attractive removable wrapper with branding info.

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Inside, you get a nice assortment of planner layouts– annual, monthly and weekly, etc., so it should be adaptable to bullet journaling. The layouts are nice and clean, with attractive touches of color.

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In the back, you get some cool bonus material, including a nicely designed weights and measures conversion page.

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There are also a couple pages for key contacts– nowadays most of us keep contact info only in our phones. I’m guilty of that too but keep hearing horror stories of people who lose their phones and can’t remember any numbers when they are trying to meet up with someone, so writing these down is a good habit to get into.

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The transit maps are very cool, although the one for New York is overly optimistic about 2nd Avenue subway– only a small section of it is planned to open by the end of 2016 and the rest of the T line isn’t even funded. But it’s fun to fantasize about how great it will be someday! The other cities included are London, Tokyo, and Paris.

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There is also a world time zone map, but I spotted an error in its color coding– it seems like the key to the GMT offsets is off by an hour, at least based on the places whose timezones I am familiar with. NYC should be -5, not -4. London and the rest of England should be in the 0 zone, not the purple +1 zone. And France, Spain, Germany, etc should be +1. The lines and the numbers on the key are correct, it’s just the colors that are misleading, so the map is not unusable, just a bit misleading. (Kikkerland has said they’ll fix it in next year’s version.)

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A ribbon marker and back pocket complete the package. At 6×8.25″ to match the size of an iPad Mini, and with a lay-flat binding, this will work well both on the desktop or in your bag.

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You can buy the Writersblok planner at a 30% discount off of the regular $20.00 price with promo code NS16 via the ad link in the upper right corner of this site. Or you can try your luck in my giveaway for a free sample! I’ll select two winners from entries received in any of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Writersblok 2017 Planner @kikkerland @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @kikkerland

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Kikkerland page and post something containing the words “Writersblok 2017 Planner” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Kikkerland Writersblok 2017 Planner” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday August 26, 2015 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Note: Kikkerland provided me with these samples free of charge, and are an advertiser on this site, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Notebooks Full of Busy

I haven’t managed to write any posts for a couple of weeks because I’ve been caught up in lots of things going on in the rest of my life. It’s interesting to see how all this played out in the pages of my daily notebook:

  • Several pages of journal entries agonizing about whether or not to pursue a promotion at work
  • Calculations of salary and bonus for new job
  • Notes about how to succeed in new job
  • Sketches of how to rearrange furniture in new office
  • Notes for questions to ask in interviewing new employees
  • List of things I need to learn more about for new job
  • Daily schedule plans for how to get to work earlier every morning and still fit in gym, cooking dinner, and assorted other life activities
  • More lists of ideas for things to accomplish in new job
  • Notes jotted down during various lunches with colleagues and clients
  • Notes jotted down during long weekend road trips to visit family
  • Notes about people I’ve interviewed and more ideas for questions to ask them
  • List of things to do on first weekend in a month where I’ll actually have some free time, such as blog posts!

Strangely, all this was crammed into only about 20 pages, along with some of the other usual things like grocery lists and doodling. Anyway, I’m hoping things settle down soon so I can get back to more regular blogging!

Notebooks by Hebrew Type

Here’s a cool new line of handmade collectible notebooks, available a la carte or by subscription: Hebrew Type. They are part of a line of cards, prints and other items made by Enon Avital, inspired by the graphic design challenges of using the Hebrew alphabet.

“Hebrew Type Books are hand made from scratch; printed, cut, sewn, bound, packaged, and shipped by me. They are presented with a right-to-left opening, but are designed to be direction agnostic.

With a double-cloth cover and a durable hand-sewn binding, these books will last a long, long time.”

Cool designs, and I love the way they are presented. Makes me want to buy some watches too!

Check them out at : Notebooks by Hebrew Type

Sketches and Songs

This sounds like great fun– a live music night at a bar, where a sketchbook makes the rounds so various artists can contribute drawings of each musician, with the that musician’s lyrics on the facing page.

“Creative expression is alive and well in Tavern 489, a Stamford restaurant where music and visual art come together every other Tuesday night. The importance of original music and creativity needs to live on, and if we can be a little part of that and incubate that, that’s a good thing, Monte says. Since April, T489 Original Acoustic Music Night has brought together singers and songwriters, music fans, sketch artists and sometimes unsuspecting visitors who were only stopping by for a whiskey or a beer. Sketch artists, from their perch at a long table or the bar, fill pages of a handmade, leather-bound notebook with portraits of the performers — often in less than 30 minutes.”

Read more, and see more sketches, at Through sketches and songs, Stamford music night celebrates originality, creativity


Moleskine Monday: Contrast Collection

The latest new products from Moleskine: contrast color schemes.

“A new collection of notebooks in contrasting colors to match the contrasting perspectives and personalities that define who we are.”

Read more at : Contrast Collection – Moleskine ®


Tina Koyama’s Field Notes Sketches

Tina Koyama has some great posts about how some new types of Field Notes inspired some new sketching styles. After not loving Field Notes initially, she’s been using the Sweet Tooth edition and the Byline reporter’s notebook and having a lot of fun! I especially love the black and white ink on the red pages.

“Of course, the release of Field Notes’ Sweet Tooth edition is what really changed my attitude. Something about that brightly colored paper liberated me to try a different kind of sketching than I normally do in my “regular” sketchbook. Different media, different subject matter and mainly a different approach – quicker, more casual, more ephemeral.

And now it has happened again. Field Notes just released its limited Byline edition, which is homage to the classic reporter’s notebook. Long, narrow and topped with a spiral binding on its short side, it’s meant to be held easily with one hand while the other pens quotes from sources during press interviews. Although I appreciate the historical reference, I had initially dismissed the edition as anything I would use. The longer shape certainly doesn’t fit in the pocket of my bag where other pocket notebooks fit so nicely, and I couldn’t imagine the paper would be sketching-media friendly. (As it turns out, the paper is actually friendly to almost everything I’ve put on it so far.)”

Read more at: Fueled by Clouds & Coffee: What I’ve Learned from Field Notes and Still Seeing Red





Vintage Notebooks from My Collection

Most of my notebooks are ones that I’ve bought new and filled with my own notes and sketches. But I also occasionally succumb to my weakness for collecting other people’s used notebooks when I see them at flea markets or on eBay. Here’s a few that I’ve picked up along the way.

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This Rice-Stix notebook is quite interesting, and if I had a time machine, I’d like to go back and walk through that warehouse to look at the huge variety of things they sold. The floor-by-floor index in the notebook would be quite handy.
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This is technically not a notebook– it’s a bank book. I had a bank book for my own little savings account when I was a kid, but by the time I was in high school, the local bank had been bought out by a big conglomerate and switched to all electronic record-keeping.
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This is just a little jotter with barely any pages left. It looks like it was meant to be refillable, as the pad clips into the cover.
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Below are the interiors of the Carson Pirie Scott notebook seen in the group photo above. Again, an index by floor so you could organize your shopping list. Why don’t supermarkets and department stores today give away notebooks like this?
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The Westinghouse diary is similar in format to many others I’ve seen, and I have similar ones in my collection from General Electric, Harvard Coop, and the Sandoz Corporation. This format seems to have been popular for decades, at least from the ’40s through the ’70s. Maps and population charts were pretty standard, as well as other handy reference tables such as area codes, time zones, and information customized to the company’s employees, in this case relating to engineering.
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These are not all the vintage notebooks I own, just a few relatively recent purchases that were at the top of the pile! Here are some others from my collection that I’ve featured in their own posts:
U. S. Government Printing Office Memorandum Notebook
Western Suede-covered Diary from 1949
eBay Gem: A Decorator’s Pocket Looseleaf Notebook


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