Memphis Art Project (MAP) is a website designed to document and showcase public art in Memphis. I wanted to do a series of blog posts that showcased Memphis public art and I ran across this website while I was researching for the blog. So I figured I would share it because they already did the work and its a nice site! Memphis has some hidden gems that are worth a visit if you live in, visiting or new in town and want to see some cool art. Check them out!
Growing up as a budding artist I used my sketchbooks pretty sparingly even though I wanted to be that art nerd, furiously writing, sketching or doing amazing stuff in one but never could remember to keep up with it. Then in college I was forced to use them. Seemed like I had one for every class and I spent more time working in those than I could on my class projects. It took me a while to get to where I enjoyed working in them and actually having it with me 90% of the time. They have become not only a personal journal but also more of an archive for my art and life. My sketchbook yields an environment for me to record ideas, life experiences, or experiment with how I want to tackle a new work of art or technique. I depend on them so much now I feel lost with out it and it's my go to for anything creative or personal that ties those two together for creating my art. Well, and the fact that I use it for both work projects and my art helps me to keep up with it. So when you go to an art store to buy one to suit your needs the choices can be pretty daunting especially if you are unfamiliar with the different types of sketchbooks out there.
Here is my take on what works and what doesn't, my likes and dislikes about sketchbooks - Honestly... it's that most of the cheap one's suck. Some of the expensive ones suck too. I personally need one that can take some abuse. A lot of the sketchbooks that I have used that don't work for me are the perfect bound stitched books. They look really nice at the store but usually fall apart in very little time and if you add to the pages pages, glue in photocopies or work in any type of multi-media art they don't expand well which is why they tend to break apart. The spine of this sketchbook to the right completely split apart and pages are falling out so I had to stop using it.
Moleskin brand sketchbooks are saddle stitched and are conveniently sized which is great if you need to travel or if you tend to work small. I have tried them and haven't really had much success with them. But they hold up well and they even have sort of a cult following. For those who haven't heard of it, the sketchbook project is a project where you pay for a book, work it under a set theme and send it back to the project and then it gets national display in a traveling exhibit as well as becomes part of a permanent collection. Pretty cool deal if you are a super sketcher/journal type person. I tried it but couldn't finish in time so I never sent it in. Working on 2 books at once was hard so the project book got left out a lot.
For me, my favorite type of sketchbook is a spiral bound book. I have had several that I loved (I can't find them any more actually) they had a hard plastic type cover and thick plastic spirals. Very hardy and well designed. The sketchbooks I use currently are pretty sturdy and last several years with some heavy abuse (these are wire bound spirals, shown below). What makes them great is that the spirals allow them to be expandable which helps them to not fall apart over time as it fills up. Paper is decent quality, can handle most mediums and once the page dries it stays flat. Covers are rugged and some even have a hard cardboard backing behind the paper just before the back cover that strengthens them even more. I even go so far as to customize my books and I make DIY pockets for the inside covers to hold loose cut-outs, and articles I find that I want to collage in when ever I find the right page for them.
I currently have the sketchbook on the left and I just finished filling up one similar to the one on the right. It took me almost 2 years but I filled every page and it held up great. Edges of the covers are pretty tattered but the spirals are in tact, it opens and closes and the paper is all there. The book on the left, the space in the spirals is handy for your hand when you carry it around. It's a pretty nice design feature actually.
Another part to consider is the paper inside. Obviously you can't try it before you buy it in a store so you have to rely on touch. Sketchbook paper comes in a wide variety of surfaces (tooth) and weights (relating to thickness of the paper) each suited to a different range of media. The cheap sketchbooks tend to have the worst paper and are only good for pencil or pastel work. The tooth of the paper is non-existent and feels very thin with some sort of coating on it and not very opaque. Remember that if you use markers, sharpies etc. it will bleed trough and you wont be able to use the other side. Hold it up to the light and if you can see your hand through it even a little bit stay away from it. Pricer sketchbooks will have better paper, that feels softer, thicker and have a nice tooth to it. I will do another post on papers that talks about weights, tooth, and gives examples on usability. In the mean time...
Several Brands I Recommend:
Art Blog of Mississippi Artist Jason Falconer