Tail Jar

Jasper St Aubyn West

Breaking in a new sketchbook

I've got a bit of a problem when it comes to buying sketchbooks. You might even call it an addiction. I carry one with me pretty much everywhere (and I do use them) but it also takes very little effort to convince the tiny accountant that lives in my brain to release some of our food budget for another shiny new Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917 or hand made, finely bound oddity, "Look, this one has storyboard frames... We pretty much have to buy it!"

At this stage I literally have an entire shelf in my studio storage cupboard filled with them.

But it makes me a little sad to think of them huddling in the dark at the back of the cupboard hoping that someday, someone will free them from their purgatory, take them out into the wild, scratch marks onto their pale, papery innards and use them as they were intended!

So I'm making a commitment to try and stop myself buying new ones and work my way through the pile I already have... (Which by my rough calculations, if I were to use about two pages a day should last me until June 16th 2033).

So in light of this decree, when I sat down to crack open a beautiful new, pocket sized Moleskine for 2017 I decided to shoot this little clip demonstrating my process for "breaking" a new sketchbook in.  

It doesn't always go down exactly like this, sometimes I blindfold myself and try to draw a portrait of Jeff Goldblum on a random page... Sometimes I try and set just a little bit of it on fire... The point is to rough it up a little, deliberately soil its perfect pages with some terrible art and make it feel lived in right from day one.

Why? Like the video says... "Sketchbooks are for sketching, don't be precious, just draw more".

There can be a big temptation to try and make every page of your beautiful new book a masterpiece, which is a great aspiration but in my experience (and I know many others) it can become completely debilitating. Personally I came to the conclusion that a full sketchbook that I've really put through its paces is far more valuable to me than a pristine one with a handful of polished pieces in it. Remember, you don't have to show anyone...

Your portfolio is the place for polished pieces, your sketchbook should be a solo ticket to a land of absolute freedom.

And here's an idea for you, if you really want to be able to show someone a book of your awesome sketches. Cherry pick the best pages from your pile of well loved (and hopefully full) sketchbooks. Scan them and print a book of your favourites... 

Anyway food for thought. Go pay some attention to your sketchbook.