I’ve recently bought the excellent new book by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico, Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers, and it’s reminded me just how important a sketchbook is, as a record of your visual thoughts and ideas.
I’ve kept a notebook of one description or another since I left University, but it’s really only been my written thoughts, or lists and ideas that require further development. I’ve never visually developed these ideas, so I’ve missed an important part of the early stages of idea creation. What Graphic shows so beautifully, is the endless possibilities that a sketchbook offers, and it’s immediately inspired me to keep a visual sketchbook again.
I consider my website and blog a ‘public sketchbook’. It’s a place I share my thoughts and ideas with the world and is primarily there for me to learn about the web and how I my thoughts and ideas are consumed by others. What I publish to my ‘public sketchbook’ though is subject to some level of censorship. I’m more thoughtful and careful about what I share, and I ensure that the quality of the idea or thought is given due care. This brings a level of restraint though, so unless I’m absolutely happy with what I publish, it sits unseen and private. The question that this poses of course is, if an idea or thought is not shared then does it exist? A somewhat lofty concept given this post is about keeping a sketchbook, but here is my point. Keeping a sketchbook is a safe place to play, and it will free me from the self-conciousness that a formal blog post creates. My belief is that by being more free to experiment and be fearless, the quality of my ideas will improve. They will evolve and exist for as long as it takes for them to develop and eventually I will be able to execute them formally, and publish to a wider audience. I will then not only have the finished piece of communication, but also supporting material that will document my processes. (Incidently the design process and how I design, is also one of my great passions, so I will no doubt write much more about this in the coming months).
What buying Graphic has shown me is that my rediscovery of what graphic design is, and what being a graphic designer means, is much more exciting than I ever imagined it would be. In time I will no doubt show some of what I experiment and create in my sketchbooks too, but no doubt what I show, will still be subject to some level of self-concious, self-censorship.