A First! Flipping through a finished sketchbook

A First! Flipping through a finished sketchbook

As I said in the video, this isn’t something I’ve done before… shared a flip through of what my standard sketchbooks look like inside. This is by no means an artist’s journal, or artist’s book, etc., it’s very much a SKETCH book. I am usually keeping a variety of art books at any given time, but this is just a sketchbook.

I’ve probably told this before a dozen times on this blog, so I apologize if you are an old school reader. When I was at Kishwaukee College, I had REALLY GREAT Art Profs, who were passionate about not only ART, but TEACHING ART, and guiding students through their artistic development. As a department they required all studio classes to keep sketchbooks, which meant one page for ever class meeting. We’d have to turn in the sketchbooks regularly and often you’d find students in the hallways frantically filling pages and drawing BIG, to get the 15 pages in before your book was due. At the beginning I was definitely one of those kids. Then imagine you are taking 2 or 3 studio classes, you could be meeting 4 to 9 times a week, and if you turned in your sketchbook every 3 weeks that could be 12-27 pages! By the time I graduated I was much better about keeping my sketchbook regularly, and have fond memories of even sleeping with it at night, in case I woke up with ideas, I could quickly sketch them out. When I transferred to University, I was shocked that the Art department did NOT require this practice. It was actually sad, but also pretty typical of how invested the teachers there were in their student’s art vocation and growth… (ahem they weren’t achooo)

The video was so quick I didn’t get to mention that I would originally leave the first page(s) of my sketchbook empty, so as not “ruin” or destroy all the potential of the book, by drawing something that I was less than pleased with. In college, as young people sometimes do, I got into horoscopes and astrology. Sites would often ask for your specific time of birth, and after having to look it up a bunch of times, I jotted it down on that first page as a quick and easy reference. It became a tradition to just start each sketchbook with that, and it made sense… the beginning of Robyn, the beginning of this sketchbook.

It was interesting to look back through some of these old sketchbooks and see I had actually written out “I was born at 8:26 p.m.” which eventually just got shortened to 8:26 p.m., and then with this recent book, it is just 8:26.

I recently discovered Jess Karp on youtube, and after watching a couple videos, I was inspired to take my simple 8:26 up a notch. Jess makes beautiful end papers for her sketchbooks, and in one video even decorated the cover like it was a published book. Her books are very much those art journals/artist’s books that I mentioned, where each pages could be a beautiful, finished and polished illustration or work of art.

After I made that first page, instead of feeling like I ruined my sketchbook, I started having the opposite problem. I was worried that it was too nice and instead of just scribbling, doodling and writing notes inside like I usually do, I was feeling precious about it. I’m a few pages in now and think that things are returning to normal, phew!

Do you have any traditions about starting a new sketchbook? I love hearing about other people’s sketchbook practices.


Hi, I'm Robyn and I was Hatched from a Kinder Surprise Egg. Graphic Designer by day, Maker of things by night. I have worked as a graphic artist professionally since I was 16 years old. Went on to get my Bachelors of Art from NIU. I like to share my Artwork online at flickr.com/photos/robayre and on my own personal website http://www.robayre.com. I also have an online shop http://www.robayre.etsy.com where you can find more of my "crafty" sorts of things, as well as a random piece of artwork here and there. Oh, and I'm also an occasional contributor to Artomat (artomat.org).

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