Category Archives: creativity

Grace Coddington’s Smythson Notebooks

Grace Coddington is well known in the fashion world as an editor, former model, and author. Now she’s also a spokesperson for Smythson. Most of the linked article is promoting their various leather bags and accessories, but I loved getting a glimpse of this well-worn address book!

I bought a Smythson address book a long time ago and no longer use it actively, but every time I come across it while rummaging through my collection, I appreciate how classic and iconic their notebooks are. They sure are expensive, though! I don’t remember how much I paid for mine, 20+ years ago, but I remember feeling like I couldn’t afford it at the time. They used to have a whole line of address books but nowadays, they don’t seem to sell them at all, except as refill inserts for other planners– a casualty of the smartphone and social media age, I guess. But they do still sell lots of notebooks and organizers. I kind of want one of these, except that they only seem to come with lined paper, and they’re $75:


 

Back to Grace Coddington, she also has a pretty fabulous set of colored pencils, which you can see  below:

 

I went looking to see if I could find it on Amazon– didn’t see one exactly like that, but these are close. I hope I win the lottery so I can buy one!!

 

Read more at: Travelling With Grace Coddington – Smythson Travel

BLACKBOOK by Nuria Mora

Absolutely stunning notebook art, by Nuria Mora, a Spanish artist based in Madrid. It looks like it was made with a Moleskine Japanese Album.

See more at: BLACKBOOK | Nuria Mora

Save

Denik Notebook Review & Giveaway

Today I’m finally doing a long overdue review of a Denik notebook. I’d first noticed this brand quite a while ago, due to their colorful point of purchase display, which I saw first at a booth at either the BookExpo convention or the NY NOW Gift Show at the Javits Center, or perhaps in a store in Brooklyn, I forget which. But wherever it was, the display was hard to miss due to the broad array of vibrant cover designs. I was thrilled to receive a free sample to review from Denik.

The Denik brand is all about creativity and activism. Their ever changing assortment of designs come from artists of all types. A portion of the proceeds from each notebook purchased goes to either the artist who designed the cover or to building schools around the world. Learn more here.

Denik Notebook - 1Denik Notebook - 2

The sample I received is one of their softcover notebooks, with a cover design by Katrina Houskeeper. The size is 5.25 x 8.25″, with 75 sheets/150 pages. It comes shrink-wrapped, and underneath, has an attractive grey-shaded cover with gold-stamped “Crazy Ideas” logo. The cover material is a soft feel to it and is said to be water resistant. The design continues on the inside front and back covers, which I love.

Denik Notebook - 3Denik Notebook - 4Denik Notebook - 5Denik Notebook - 9

The notebook is perfect-bound, so it does not lie flat– but I got this sample a while ago and Denik has since changed their construction to smyth-sewn and describe their softcovers as “lay-flat” so they have addressed that issue– yay! (They still say the page count is 150, which I’m trying to figure out, since I thought sewn signature notebooks always had page counts in multiples of 4. Maybe they glue in one extra page??)

Denik Notebook - 10Denik Notebook - 6

Inside, there is lined paper, which feels pretty average to the touch, not overly smooth, but gives a really nice gliding feel with most pens. Show-through is about average, and bleed-through slightly better than average. Some fountain pens feather a bit. Unlined paper is also available, and they also offer leather bound sketchbooks, and spiral bound notebooks and sketchbooks.

Denik Notebook - 7Denik Notebook - 8

 

At $11.95, the softcover notebook is maybe a teensy bit on the high end of reasonably priced, but I think that is OK given that it is made in the USA and benefits good causes. If you love collecting notebooks with colorful, unique covers, you’ll want to give these a try. You can find them at many retailers, or order online at the Denik webstore, or you can enter the giveaway for some prizes provided by Denik! We are giving away 5 Notebooks, one each to 5 different winners!

For this giveaway, the entry rules are a little different, so please read the instructions below carefully. I have just launched a Notebook Stories account on Instagram, so this will be my first Instagram giveaway!
To enter:

  • Follow @shopdenik on Instragram
  • Follow @notebook.stories on Instagram (make sure you have the “.” in there, as “@notebookstories” without the “.” is someone else!)
  • Tag a friend in the comments on my Instagram post about Denik. You can better your chances of winning by tagging more of your friends. Please keep it to one tag per comment.
  • You can also enter by posting a comment on this blog post with your Instagram account name, but you must be following @shopdenik and @notebook.stories in order to be eligible to win.
  • The deadline to enter is Friday October 20, 2017
  • You must be in the US to enter.

Winners will be announced within two weeks after the end of the entry period. Thanks and good luck everyone!

 

Save

Save

Save

Bradford Morrow’s Boorum & Pease Ledger

An excellent article at LitHub by Bradford Morrow, author of the just-published Prague Sonata, among other books. Really interesting look at a writer’s process and why he prefers physical note-taking to digital methods. Big thanks to reader Raymond for sending me the tip!

“My memory is good, but capricious at times. My scraps of paper get misplaced or wind up in the laundry. I don’t want to figure out dictation software. And my thumbs are hopeless, which is only part of the reason I hate texting. In an era of smart phones, palm-sized digital cameras, and featherweight laptops—also known as “notebooks”—the very idea of lugging around a heavy, folio-sized, hardcover Boorum & Pease record-ruled 9-300-R ledger or oversized black spiral-bound artist sketchbook, would seem at once masochistic and medieval. Yet, these behemoths, straight out of some Dickensian accountant’s office or landscape architect’s atelier, have served as my notebooks of choice for well over 20 years.”

Read more (and see lots more notebook images) at: Why Digital Note-Taking Will Never Replace the Physical Journal | Literary Hub

Save

Nomad Notebooks: Kickstarter Ending Soon!

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that is ending on October 13, 2017: Nomad Notebooks. They still need about $9k to make their goal (as of this writing) and I hope they make it! The project involves the tried and true formula of 3-packs of pocket notebooks, but with a couple of twists: the notebooks are made of a mixture of papers, with different themes for each pack. They started out using repurposed papers, and will be launching 3-packs with a Sea/Air/Space theme, Graph paper theme, and Planner theme.

 

Repurposed:
nomad repurposed

Sea:
nomad sea

Air:

nomad air

Space:

nomad space

Graph:

nomad graph

Planner:

nomad planner

The other twist is that they have angled corners– that part isn’t really a positive for me, but it does mean they’ll be easier to slide into leather covers, which are also part of the Kickstarter.

nomad 3 setnomad leather cover

 

Full campaign info here:

Save

Save

Sue Bulmer Interviews Anne Davies About Her Sketchbooks

I came across some wonderful sketchbook images, plus an interview with Anne Davies, the artist who created them, at the website of Sue Bulmer, a UK artist.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I love it, maybe that’s why I have so many on the go at once! I’m not one of those people who has fear of a blank sheet of paper, I love a fresh start.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages and how would you describe your creative process?

My main inspiration comes from the landscape. I’m also fascinated by colour. Working in a sketchbook is very liberating because no-one else is necessarily going to see it so for me it is a place where I can work very freely and experiment with colour and shape. A lot of my work is about memories of landscape rather than about re-creating a particular view and so the landscapes in my sketchbooks are often created out of my imagination. In some ways my painting sketchbooks are a place to ‘limber up’ before I start on my other work. I don’t recreate work from my sketchbook into a finished painting but some of the colour or composition ideas will find their way in along the way. When I’m drawing I will sometimes draw from life. Even then the drawing is filtered through my own way of seeing and won’t be a technically accurate depiction of the scene in front of me. I’m more interested in the way a place feels and the memory it evokes than trying to produce a photographic representation of it. I see the landscape in terms of line, shape and colour and the stories behind the buildings held in it.

 

Read more at: sue bulmer – artist: Sketchbook Peeks – Anne Davies

Save

Save

A Pattern Book from the V&A Museum

The notebook image below is from an interested blog post from the V&A Museum in London. It’s an example of a pattern book:

“They are reference guides for production. Maybe they show things made by the company in the past, maybe images by competitors, maybe historic objects – all intended to aid in further design. Though they serve the same purposes as an artist’s sketchbook, often the pictures are not drawn, but rather are pasted in and then perhaps annotated or marked-up. Here’s a spread from a book kept by the Leeds ceramic firm Hartley, Greens & Co, which shows the collage-like approach typical of such pattern books.”

The rest of the post talks about other examples of notebooks from their exhibits, including some by Leonardo da Vinci.

Read more at : Duly Noted | Victoria and Albert Museum

Save

Jazz Green’s Sketchbooks

Some gorgeous sketchbook pages from artist Jazz Green:

 

See more at her website: sketchbooks | J A Z Z G R E E N

Save

Notebook Addict of the Week: Abigoliah Schamaun

British comedian Abigoliah Schamaun has done 2000 comedy gigs, and filled lots of notebooks with her material. She talks about them below, accompanied by photographs by her boyfriend Tom Watts:

“…I’ve written jokes and setlists into vast numbers of notebooks. I have a notebook on me at all times. They are my security blanket. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or whether I plan on doing some writing once I get there, there is always a notebook in my bag. Gym, vacation, coffee shop; doesn’t matter. If there’s an afterlife I’ll carry one into that. I always have a notebook.

Abigoliah Schamaun's notebooks. Copyright: Tom Watts.

And I’ve always used a notebook, I’ve never switched to using some sort of spreadsheet or phone app. It’s just easier for me. Besides, if I drop my notebook in a puddle on the way to a gig it’ll be soggy but it still works. Notebooks are reliable, sturdy creatures. Writing a premise on a tangible object somehow makes the premise itself more tangible. It’s no longer just a thought in my head; I can now see it on white unlined paper and black ink. It’s real.

I LOVE new notebook day. It’s my favourite day. I usually buy moleskins, but sometimes I use notebooks that have been gifted to me. Every time I buy a notebook, there’s so much excitement and hope for that new notebook. I always think “This is the one! This is the one my first Live At The Apollo set will go into! This is the notebook my defining ‘bit’ will go into. Eddie Izzard has Cake vs Death, George Carlin has 7 Dirty Words, John Mulaney has The Salt and Pepper Diner. And I’m about to write mine.”

Abigoliah Schamaun's notebooks. Copyright: Tom Watts.

This level of glee and hope might be seen as childish and unrealistic. But no one goes into show-business because they have realistic expectations. Comics are dreamers who say funny things, it’s as simple as that.

When I’m done with them, they get tucked up on a shelf behind my whisky collection. I’ll be honest, I don’t look at them much once they’re put away.

To commemorate gig number 2,000 my boyfriend, Tom Watts, loaned me his photography skills and we did a photoshoot. And, for the first time in years, I pulled the notebooks down and looked through them…

My notebooks are multi-functional. I use them not just for sets but for everything. In there amongst the one-liners and story ideas are shopping lists, to-do lists, lists of lists. I taped my airline ticket into the beginning of one notebook from when I moved to London. In another is my father’s eulogy. Not a set, and not counted as one, but written out exactly how I write sets – because that’s how my brain works now.”

 

Read more at: Abigoliah Schamaun: 22 notebooks and 2,000 gigs – British Comedy Guide

Gary Panter’s Sketchbook

This photo of artist Gary Panter caught my eye– I wish I could get a better look at that little sketchbook!

Panter creates art in various media, but the New York Times article this photo accompanies focuses on his new graphic novel, Songy of Paradise. The article notes that he does not use digital tools to create his comics:

“I’ve been using old-fashioned tools,” Mr. Panter said. “There are new pen nibs being made now that are like the old tools.” Then there’s the three-ply Strathmore buff Bristol paper and Pelikan Tusche ink, but no Wite-Out — “I have to live with my mistakes.”

Which brings him to his career-long aesthetic. “I’m more interested in the crude,” Mr. Panter said. “It’s why I don’t ink in brush on slick paper. I want to slow the reader down, slow myself down.

“I have 50 years of investment in analog tools and the dirt world.”

Nothing further about what kind of notebooks he uses, though! Bummer!

Read more: When a Comic Book Hillbilly and Milton Collide – The New York Times