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Book Review: Sketchbooks

When you think about it, a sketchbook is often the only place an artist can truly be him- or herself, with nothing to prove to anyone else. In Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators and Creatives, Richard Brereton persuaded several prominent people in the field to share pages from their own sketchbooks — weirdness be damned. Each subject gets 4-6 pages of lushly photographed sketchbook spreads, along with a short statement in which the artists explain their own personal histories with sketching and what compels them to sketch. Many choose to doodle or write cryptic passages with illustrations; others do completely uninhibited stuff that may reveal something about the artist’s subconsciousness. In the latter category, I really want to know why the famous British designer Peter Saville felt the need to write his own name dozens of times back in 2001.

Flipping through this book is a little like browsing through the Moleskine: One Page at a Time flickr group. The art on display boasts a diverse variety of subject matter and media (one artist even mentions sticking a hunk of raw meat in a sketchbook!). If I had one misgiving about this book, it’s that the subjects are very Euro-centric with very little representation from Asia or the Americas. I was also disappointed that the handful of American artists here all seem to be based in New York. Other than those issues, this is a beautifully done project, inspiring me to break out the ‘ol Moleskine and draw away.


Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators and Creatives is published by Laurence King. Buy at Amazon here.

P.S. If anybody knows of any other new books coming out of a design/art/retro/pop culture persuasion, please let me know. Thanks!

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