Tag Archives: creativity

A Fiber Artist’s Sketchbook

“[Internationally known fiber artist] Cindy Steiler is always working, in her studio, “drawing with thread.”, during a European artist residency, teaching students how to push the boundaries of fiber. She works in an antique mall, browsing eerie photos of women she doesn’t know. She works in a grocery store aisle, scribbling an idea into her pocket sketchbook.”

Here’s a couple of pages from that sketchbook:
Read more at: Cindy Steiler Brings her Process to Toledo

Notebook Addict of the Week: Cynthia Morris

This week’s addict is the blogger at Original Impulse, where she offers “support and resources to help you love your creative life.” She was faced with a decision about what to do with all these filled notebooks!


“As I unpack and move into my new home, I am faced with a decision: do I put my journals on the shelves or boxed in the closet?

Hundreds and hundreds of pages, billions of words. For what?

Stacks and stacks of writing

These 100+ notebooks full of free writing and journaling certainly aren’t interesting to anyone. They aren’t publishable and they haven’t brought me any money.

But these notebooks full of my scribbles form the foundation of my writing career. Without the pages and pages of meandering writing, I wouldn’t have built the confidence to dare publishable pieces.”

Read more at How Writing for ‘Nothing’ Can Give You Everything – Original Impulse.

In Praise of Wear and Tear

From a lovely essay about appreciating the worn, torn, lived-in-ness of books and notebooks, the “messiness of creation”:

“For about fifteen years now I have been keeping a notebook, or multiple notebooks actually, ostensibly with the intention of jotting down ideas or thoughts before they escape off into the ether. Occasionally these thoughts result in something concrete but more often than not the scribblings are promptly forgotten about, never to be reread or pored over for long-lost inspiration.In reality, this incessant note-taking is just another form of procrastination, no different nor more tangibly constructive than the 47,000 or so tweets that I have managed to post over a much shorter period of time. Dozens of the notebooks are piled in a drawer at home, ranging from neat little Moleskines to cheap spiral-bound jotters that I can’t remember buying. There are even some loose pages that were posted back to me by a conscientious thief who ripped them out and kept the rest of the book (upon later recovering the bag they were in and which had been left on the Metro, I found the same thief had ignored a number of valuable items but took a copy of Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia and a Paris A-Z – it was as if I had been robbed by a latter-day Raymond Queneau).

They bear the marks of occupational carelessness – crumpled or worn covers, smudged ink, coffee and wine stains – contain fragments of stories, lists, recipes, potted film reviews, heartfelt confessionals after bad break-ups, the occasional bad poem, ill-informed first impressions of whatever city or country I happened to be travelling in at the time. Everything is written in my cursive handwriting, which has got smaller and increasingly illegible as the years have progressed (some entries also bear the clear imprint of drunkenness). The writing is in a variety of coloured inks, of varying thickness, sometimes in pencil, of varying degrees of sharpness. A couple of the early ones even have an index system, dating from a time when I seriously thought these scribblings would constitute a corpus from which my future work might be drawn.”

Read more at  The crack of the spine: why do we find wear and tear in books so comforting?.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Ben Hatke

This week’s addict is Ben Hatke, creator of the ‘Zita the Spacegirl‘ series. In a guest post at GeekDad, he talks about the importance of sketchbooks in his creative process:

“I can’t stress enough the importance of sketchbooks in my creative work. I think one of the most important things that anyone with an interest in visual storytelling can do is FILL SKETCHBOOKS. The act of filling a sketchbook is the act of becoming comfortable transferring your thoughts from your mind onto a page.

As your sketchbook fills up it will become as unique as you yourself are. Every artist will use a sketchbook in their own way, but when you become very comfortable in transferring your thoughts onto a page flipping through your sketchbook or notebook will look like a peek into your mind. I try hard not to be precious about my sketchbooks. I don’t expect my sketchbooks to be beautiful pieces of art; I expect them to catch ideas as they fall out of my brain.”

Here’s a generous pile of those sketchbooks:

And here’s a video flip-through of one of them:

Read more at Sketchbooks: The Secret Soul of Creativity by Ben Hatke – GeekDad

Photographers’ Sketchbooks

Here’s another book I’ve been thinking about adding to my collection: Photographers’ Sketchbooks.

Since it’s photography, not all of the “sketchbooks” are traditional paper ones, though a couple are shown below.

From the review linked below:

“This book is comprised of over 500 illustrated pages featuring the tangible objects that help these photographers realize their visions. From the traditional Polaroid, to the more common iPhone test shots, the book showcases more than just on-site documentation. In addition to the visuals, each chapter begins with text about and from the photographer represented. Mechanics aside, Photographers’ Sketchbooks shows the diverse range of visual material photographers keep on hand to observe, record, and inspire. Found photos, collages of various imagery, contact sheets, and diaries all funnel into some stage of the creative process from concept to execution, presentation, and editing. Many of the series shown are works in progress, a fitting theme for book on process.”

Read more at  A Look Inside ‘Photographers’ Sketchbooks’ – Feature Shoot.

Coolest Book Ever: SYLLABUS by Lynda Barry

Notebook lovers and Lynda Barry fans (I am both) will just die of happiness when they see this book!

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

Not only is every page chock full of Lynda Barry’s unique art and the creativity exercises she developed for the classes she’s taught, plus examples of student work… the amazing thing is that the whole book is a facsimile composition book!


A single stitched signature, rounded corners, the exact size, and it even has the tape on the spine! It’s just a gorgeous object as well as an inspiring manual. I spent a few hours just poring over it when I first got it… and I know I’ll spend many more! Here’s a sneak peek of one of my favorite pages, with a pile of the composition books all the students used in one semester.



Check out Lynda Barry’s other wonderful books too:
What It Is
Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book

Notebook Addict of the Week: Carley

This week’s addict emailed me a wonderful essay on why she loves notebooks, and how writing in them inspires her creativity. Here’s some photos of some of her notebooks:


“I guess you could say that I’m a notebook addict. My current favourite are Paperblanks which I mainly use as Writing Notebooks and Journals. I’ve always loved buying beautiful stationery and notebooks for school or work, but it wasn’t until about a couple years ago that my obsession with notebooks really began to take root. I’ve always loved writing and a couple of years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to write regularly and write down my ideas as they came to me instead of letting them slip away, in the hope that I might finally find the courage to write that novel. And it’s the only resolution, with the exception to not biting my nails, that I’ve stuck to. A resolution that kinda became a compulsion. I buy notebooks all the time because I know that I’ll quickly fill them up, sometimes I’ll fill one in a few days, others in a few months. And let’s face it, you can never have too many notebooks. If anything, I don’t have enough.

I love notebooks, the crisp cool feel of the page, and that slight musky earthy scent. It’s that new book smell. I could breathe it in all day. Between the fresh, blank, crisp pages, and that new book smell lies the promise of something great; that new page is my territory, my blank canvas or unused putty to shape and mould as I like. It’s on these pages that I get to draft new worlds.

I like to be organised especially when it comes to my writing and my notebooks help me do this. I write down my ideas for stories or any piece of dialogue or description that comes into my head. It started as being a way to organise my thoughts, and take note of anything I would probably have forgotten later on. Now I have twenty one notebooks filled with ideas and the ideas are even colour coded by order of preference and divided so that the front contains story ideas, and the back has random snippets of dialogue, description, or research.

I love writing in notebooks because I love the way my hand flows across the smooth paper (something you could never experience with a computer). I love watching the way the thoughts in my head start to come alive on the page. Mostly I love that the more that I write up the idea, the more inspired I become. The story starts to shape itself. I love feeling inspired. It’s one of the best feelings in the world; that feeling that you can do something, and I get that feeling almost every day. It is amazing.

I have idea notebooks. I have notebooks for random stuff, quotes, writing, words of the day, weather, characters, future titles, current projects, poems, book reviews or thoughts, and poetry I like. The list goes on. Sadly, the oldest notebook I have only dates back to 2011.

I only attached the pics of my Idea Journals because I have so many notebooks buried in various drawers and on my shelves, and I don’t think I could fit them all into one pic.”

Notebook Addict of the Week: Bee

This week’s addict blogs about creativity, and declares that she is “addicted to pretty notebooks.”

“So I was extremely excited to learn that I am not the only gal who has an overwhelming addiction to fancy diaries, journals, and notebooks. They can be plain, they can have beautiful covers, there can be lined, plain, and paper with monograms within. I enjoy both the bound books and the spiral kind. I have had this desire for fancy little books since a very young age. However the sickest part about this addiction is, they are all left blank! I’m serious, I buy and buy with great intention, and huge plans for these awesome little books. I just can not bring myself to write in the books.”

Read more at Addicted to pretty notebooks | beecreativelyou.com.

A Kid’s Sketchbook

A nice little piece in the “T” New York Times Style magazine, about a photographer named Dean Kaufman, who has taken photos of his son sketching at various museums. What a great way to get a kid interested in art!




Keeping Your Creative Ideas in a Separate Notebook?

Suw Charman-Anderson has an interesting article at Forbes.com about the best ways to use a notebook for creative endeavors. She refers to another series of blog posts called The Entrepreneur’s Notebook, which brings up a controversial approach:

I’ve always used my notebooks for everything, whether that was notes from a meeting I was in, to do list items, shopping lists, ideas, random notes, doodles, the whole nine yards. What Masukomi [author of The Entrepreneur’s Notebook] points out is that you need to keep your notebook pure, just for ideas and maybe doodles:
“Doodling doesn’t affect the quality of the content in your notebook because it doesn’t contain information your brain needs to parse, but things like grocery lists contain information that’s irrelevant to your projects and become random noise that pollutes an otherwise useful resource.”

Always a great debate: one notebook, or many? Should you separate your notebooks according to their purpose, keeping mundane lists in one and creative ideas in another, or even further sub-dividing specific projects into separate notebooks? Or should you just dump everything into one notebook that you have with you at all times? Or keep two or more notebooks with you at all times?
Lately, I’ve been using the one-notebook-for-everything approach, pretty much. But I do have separate sketchbooks, and I’ve been wondering if I should be carrying one at all times to encourage me to draw more. I do sometimes draw in my main notebook, but not as much as I’d like. And for some reason, I don’t doodle in it all that much– I doodle a lot in meetings at work, but that usually ends up on work papers and a larger notebook that I use for note-taking at meetings. I sometimes wonder if I should bring my small notebook to meetings so I can capture my doodles separately there, and keep my work papers looking more professional!

Suw found that she didn’t really want to carry two notebooks, so she came up with a good compromise:

I started carrying round a new notebook just before I went on holiday to Malta and whilst I was away I jotted down a load of really cool ideas…

But I still needed somewhere to jot down to do items and grocery list stuff, and I didn’t fancy carrying round two notebooks. This turned out to be an easy problem to solve: In the back of the book I stuck a few sticky notes and anything that doesn’t belong in the notebook gets put on a sticky note, then transferred to my writing slope once I get home to my office. This separation of church and state is really important because it means that when you open your notebook, your focus is undiluted by reminders to do this or that later on. It’s all about the ideas, nothing else.

What’s your method?

Read the full articles referenced at:
The Author’s Notebook – Forbes.
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 1
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 2 – Tips for more productive note-taking
The Entrepreneur’s Notebook Part 3 – Searchability, Notebook choices, and backups