Saturday, October 24, 2009

Keep two.

I'm not a very superstitious person, but there are few superstitions I always follow:

  1. Never get between two mirrors.
  2. Never, under any circumstances, touch the Dungeon Master's dice.
  3. Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows.
  4. If your first sketch in a new sketchbook goes wrong, you've cursed it forever.

A couple of days ago, I bought a new sketchbook. Tonight, I found myself unable to sleep, so I came into the living room and finally worked up the courage to de-virginize my new sketchbook.

Sketchbooks (or notebooks if you're a writer) are both a blessing and a curse. If you completely cheap out and buy a spiral-bound book with terrible quality paper, you never really want to use it. It's uninspiring. If, on the other hand, you get a really sexy sketchbook, you never want to use it because it would be like scrawling a shopping list on Unicorn skin.

That's what my new sketchbook looks like. It's sexy

You see, and empty sketchbook has so much potential. You know how in adventure movies like Indiana Jones the hero opens his notebook and it's filled with hand-drawn maps, notes in perfect copperplate handwriting and sketches of skulls and keys and hieroglyphics? That's what you want your sketchbook to look like. You want someone to discover your sketchbook on your coffee table, open it up and be like "Holy shit! Did you draw this???".

Then you look at the ridiculous scrawling you delusionally call 'your art' and realize that's never going to happen. Better to leave the awesome sketchbook empty on the shelf, where it can keep it's amazing potential forever. One day, when you're really skilled enough, you'll take it down and fill it with the artwork that's worthy of it.

Unfortunately, that day never comes.

In all seriousness, I think every artist, of any every skill level, needs two sketchbooks.

You see, there are two ways to look at a sketchbook. The first way is like I mentioned above…that when it's full, the sketchbook, in itself, is a completed work of art.

The second is a far more realistic way of looking at a sketchbook. I repository for all your ideas, both good and bad, experiments, practice, etc, etc. For example, I have a sketchbook that has pages and pages of nothing but noses drawn from different angles, pages of really gimpy looking hands, mouths, stick figure 'thumbnail' sketches for when I wanted to work out a composition for a 'real' piece.

Basically, it's like the writer's notebook. If it's filled with page after page of exquisite prose, perfectly worked out without a single crossing out or bad idea that went nowhere, it's not a real 'working notebook'. It's as polished and 'finished' as any book on the store shelves. Only when it's got hastily scrawled ideas, scratched out paragraphs, indescipherable notes, phone numbers and the occasional 'Call Mom' note…it's not a real notebook.

So that's my advice to all the artists out there. Buy two sketchbooks. One to be a workhorse when you're experimenting, and another to be your collection of 'pretty' art.

No comments: