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Keeping a Sketch-Book

Good Practice for Arty-Types

R Proffitt
by Richard Proffitt
iopan design

If you'd like to pick up a very good habit for yourself, then one of the most useful , productive and creatively nourishing is the practice of keeping a sketchbook with a wide variety of work and working techniques. I have created numerous of these books over the years and I would consider it the most excellent practice for creative folk.

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Observation

Practicing observational drawing/sketching is probably one of the most useful and rewarding pastimes there is! It will also keep your designer's eyes sharp and it all improves your general creative skills.

Invention

If you ever needed an excuse to go a bit crazy and random, or to conduct a little way-out research; here is your sketchbook! a safe place to let your ideas run rampant and your imagination have free rein. There are NO LIMITS, so go ahead.. think BIG!

Inspiration

With the aid of a little glue or sticky tape, you can paste down any piece of imagery that you find inspirational, be it from a magazine, flyer, advertisment or information leaflet. Collect whatever catches your eye.

Pencils, Pastels & Pens

Try exploring different media and mark-making equipment. Try chalk and oil pastels, coloured pencils and pens; brushes and coloured paint. Create your own brushes from twigs, sticks, sponges and string. These methods are particularly good for experimenting with texture.

Paints

Nobody is an island. We all need to develop and maintain positive relationships with numerous other people. For creative people, it is especially true when we think of the requirement for feedback and, of course, an audience. So spend some time chatting with and befriending your co-workers, family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Ask for their opinions.

Colours

You already possess - in your memory - a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. So work with your memory to develop creative thought now. Take about half an hour recalling a room from your childhood. Imagine yourself at child's height. What do you recall? What sensations, colours, textures, smells do you sense? Write the notes in your sketchbook.

Photographs/Images

If you've spent a long time at the irony face - digging out choice amusing ideas for your marketing team, now is the time to stop! It's a sad fact that our modern culture is saturated with post-modern irony and cynicism. This trend just won't lay down and die. Not only is insidious, but it really does destroy true creativity. Make a commitment to being earnest and dump the irony.

Layout Sketches

The creative mind sees patterns in random things - so let your mind wander a little. When you can, analyse a little piece of your day; an interchange, a trip to the shops, the passengers on the bus.. Can you see any meaning behind these random events? Perhaps a colour, a tune, phrase or piece of poetry will come to you. Note it all down.

Collage

You already possess - in your memory - a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. So work with your memory to develop creative thought now. Take about half an hour recalling a room from your childhood. Imagine yourself at child's height. What do you recall? What sensations, colours, textures, smells do you sense? Write the notes in your sketchbook.

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Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci produced many fine sketchbooks during his lifetime; they contain a wealth of anatomical sketches, observations of the human form as well as meticulous diagrams of warfare & other machines.

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