Your Artist’s Sketchbook – 10 Tips For Creativity

Most Artists use sketchbooks as a means of recording an idea, object or place. However, getting the best use out of your sketchbook is about way more than having a pretty book with a nice picture on every page. Here’s how to get low down and dirty with your sketchbook to squeeze more creativity out of it.

    1. The sketchbook is a means to an end – not the end itself.
      Try not to view your sketchbook as something you could put in a gallery all by itself. Look at it more as an old friend you can bounce ideas off in a smokey pub.


    1. Dont be precious about your sketchbook – It will stifle your creativity.
      Years ago as a Art Foundation Student myself and the other students were given sketchbooks to work in and proceeded to be really tense about them spending hours crafting perfect pages, getting really uptight and competitive about the work in them. Then one of the older more wizened members of staff got us all to place our sketchbooks in a big pile on a table and proceeded to pour thick black coffee all over them. Result – Lots of shouting and some tears but a great lesson learned. Just relax – You willl be far more creative.


    1. Don’t tear out pages or remove work you aren’t happy with. 
      Your sketchbook should be honest. Dont try to edit it. It’s there as a record of your thoughts and even terrible work is a record of your progress. Even if it looks dreadful there may be an idea there you can come back to at a later stage.


    1. Keep a small sketchbook with you at all times.
      As a Mum I get little time to do anything but there’s always a little moment you can snatch, when the kids have fallen asleep in the car, when you’re waiting at the school gates, when you have precisely two minutes to draw something. You also have something to hand to quickly write down a great idea that pops into your head when you are at the Supermarket checkout. Having a sketchbook at these snatched times is important to keep your creativity flowing.


    1. Don’t just draw.
      Write down thoughts, textures, sounds, conversations. Its these everyday snippits that are often inspirational.


    1. Buy a cheap sketchbook.
      If you treat yourself to a beautiful hand crafted leatherbound hand made paper filled sketchbook you will get so hung up about putting the perfect work in that you will get paralysed by lack of creative confidence [well, maybe thats just me] Just get your self a cheap general sketchbook and you will use it much more and be more relaxed.


    1. Be Messy.
      Try out new techniques and materials in your sketchbook. That way you have an ever growing reference library of what works [and what doesn’t].


    1. Collect things – Stick them in your sketchbook
      Postcards from exhibitions, feathers, leaves, photos, textiles, paint samples, flyers, stickers, magazine cuttings and other ephemera can all find a home in your sketchbook as a source of inspiration. This stops them festering in the bottom of your handbag until they are unrecognisable and you bin them.


    1. It may be obvious but… keep a pen or pencil with your sketchbook.
      There’s nothing more frustrating that having a great idea or seeing something amazing and having nothing to draw or write it down with. Make sure you have a drawing implement that will tuck safely into your sketchbook. Clip it on, tuck it down the spine or stick it on with sellotape if neccessary.


    1. USE IT
      Its so easy to get out of the habit of working in your sketchbook. You forget to take it out a few times and before you know it you haven’t worked in it for six months. I find personally that my sketchbook is the root of all my creative processes so its really important to keep using it. Once you are in the habit you get in a flow and can create a positive spiral of creativity. Just keep going.
How do you use your sketchbook? Please share with us in the comments…


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