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3 Reasons to Start a Sketchbook

2023 is still fresh, though it’s never too late to start a new habit. If you’re looking for a positive change that will bring you a long lasting impact, look no further! There is one simple thing you can do starting TODAY to help you reach your art goals this year. You might already be doing it, if that’s the case, this will just affirm your choice. But if not, this is your call to start a sketchbook!

There are endless benefits to building a routine and sticking to it, but today I’ll highlight 3 of the top reasons why you should commit to filling a sketchbook. Some are obvious, while others might not occur to you until later down the road.

The first and arguably most important reason to start a sketchbook is that it allows you to create without consequences. What I mean by this is that you can treat it as a testing ground for undeveloped ideas, the worst thing that can come from a failure is that you turn the page and leave it behind. (One word of advice, do not rip pages out! You may find the solution to a failed concept later, and decide to revisit it. More on that later.) You don’t have to show your sketchbook pages to anyone, in fact no one even has to know about it. You can do whatever you want in there without being judged or critiqued. This point may seem obvious, but in the age of digital identity and online social presence, it can sometimes feel like things aren’t worth doing unless they’re instagrammable. Break free from this notion by making a mess, or organizing your thoughts, in your sketchbook! I can’t stress enough how important it is to play. Your creative instinct is fueled by fun, and you need a playground. Let your imagination run wild, it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to feel good. It doesn’t have to turn into a full fledged project, it just needs to fill the page. There’s a constant pressure to be making something. But it’s likely that you’ll only be truly satisfied with a limited portion of the artwork you put out in your life. We don’t have to get into why, but filling a sketchbook ups those chances, because the more you make, the more chances at satisfaction you have.

This brings us directly to the next reason. Your technical skills will improve. Most people prefer quality over quantity, but with your sketchbook the opposite could yield your desired results. Practice makes progress, and your sketchbook can serve as the training ground for your skills. Have you ever come up with an idea, but struggled to execute it? Maybe you’re understanding of anatomy could use some work, or maybe perspective is the bane of your practice. Use your sketchbook as a tool to tackle these technical shortcomings. The more you draw, or write, or paint, the more you’ll learn about your materials. You can count on some things to become ingrained in your muscle memory. The less you have to think about your skills, the more you can focus on manifesting your concepts. It can help you build the confidence to take on more ambitious projects later on.

Speaking of projects, you should get into the habit of recording your ideas. Using your sketchbook to flesh out concepts will grant Future You with a comprehensive encyclopedia of designs. A great exercise Future You can partake in ever so often is taking a trip down memory lane. You can learn a lot from these pages, after all hindsight is 20/20. Some of your best work may be derived from revisiting an old idea you didn’t previously have the resources to follow through with. It can also help give you direction, and explain what your style is, what themes show up throughout your work, and what areas can use improvement. The sketchbook will tell you things about yourself that might not be obvious to others. It can give you the full picture of your identity as an artist.

At this point, it might feel like there’s a lot of pressure to create a body of work that is meaningful, a relic, a compilation of amazing ideas, drawings, schematics, poems, etc. Before you begin, it’s essential that you abandon this notion completely. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to your sketchbook. Just you and your materials. Use it to play. Use it to grow. Whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously! After all, you’re doing it for you. That being said, don’t fuss too much over what kind of sketchbook you get. Lest you get caught up in researching products, and never get to the actual sketching. Find one with thick paper that can handle the demand of your materials, and decide what size you need; don’t overthink it.

The final piece of advice is to embrace the unknown. If you can’t think of anything to create, check out our post about prompts. Maybe you’ve tried this before, maybe you have a stack of abandoned books with 4 pages filled in. Just know that if you really believe in the benefits of this routine, it will reward you! Good luck!

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