3 Reasons to Keep a Sketchbook

When I was enrolled in drawing classes at university, my professor made sketchbooks part of the curriculum. She would gather them up each week to make sure we were practicing our skills outside the classroom, and she would grade us on the work we put in the pages. Even with a sketchbook being part of class expectations, it was still easy for me to forget about during the week. However, it was a very beneficial practice to keep since it sharpened my skills and aided in creative exploration. Keeping a sketchbook is a small task that really doesn’t take much time and has tons of benefits, but it can be tedious. Using a sketchbook regularly, rather than just using it to put ideas for a specific project on paper, is something I find difficult because I can't always think of what I want to draw. (I usually just end up drawing trees or Griffin, the studio dog, when I don't know what else to draw!) Right now it’s like using a muscle that isn’t very strong yet, so that means I need to start training and practicing! Here are my top three reasons why keeping a sketchbook is important (and what's motivating me to form this new habit!).

Why it’s important

The beauty of a sketchbook is that it is an avenue for free-flowing creativity. There is no deadline to meet; there is no client expectation. You can do whatever the heck you want within those pages. Toss aside any worry of something not looking good or an idea being too crazy to try out. A sketchbook is the place to explore nooks and crannies of ideas that seem far-fetched or you can't find a practical use for. It could be totally crazy, but it could also turn into something beautiful and amazing and take you down a new, exciting path of creativity. Let your sketchbook become a small passion project!

The more you fill the pages of your sketchbook and flex your creativity muscles, the easier your ideas and imagination will flow. Sketchbooks are great because you're not confined to just drawing. You can use it as a place to explore different mediums, study different techniques, create color palettes, design patterns, and keep a collection of visuals that inspire you. Using a variety of mediums in a sketchbook also helps grow creativity. Even though I work on a computer all day, I still very much enjoy taking a step back from that to draw or paint, even if it's just a quick doodle. You may find that what you use as inspiration for your sketchbook and the mediums you use cross over into other work. For example, I love hand-lettering, and there are times that skill comes in handy for an editorial feature. What you explore in your sketchbook can open up new doors; it can help push you outside of the norm, where you explore new ideas and maybe even help you define your personal style.

Keeping up a sketchbook is a great way to keep my drawing skills sharp. Maintaining that skill is important since sketching out ideas is a major part of my design process. When I get stuck on something, a pencil and a sheet of paper are the first things I reach for because it helps me unload a lot of what’s inside my brain and turn it into visuals. I can then see what ideas are working and what ideas aren't. Sketching is an important aspect of being a graphic designer, and I can see it being a very useful skill in other creative fields as well. By being a creative who practices and keeps your drawing skills sharp, you can quickly and easily sketch ideas that pop into your head and then save that sketch to refer back to when you need it. It’s also comes in handy when you’re trying to communicate ideas to others. Oftentimes I’ll be discussing artwork for an upcoming magazine issue with an editor and sketching layouts frequently comes into play. The ability to sketch has continually proven to be an important and versatile tool for me.

For these three reasons, I want to be more diligent about keeping a sketchbook. A new personal goal is to spend some quality time with my sketchbook, embrace inspiration, and let my ideas run wild! I'm still working on coming up with an attainable and concrete goal of how often I use my sketchbook. I'll let you know what I come up with! I'm sure I'll be putting some sketches up on Instagram in the near future, so if you want to follow along, there’s a link to my Instagram account in the sidebar, found on the righthand side of this page. Happy sketching, everyone!

Do you any of you keep sketchbooks? If so, what’s your favorite part about using a sketchbook? How does it benefit you in your creative field?