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Want to Be More Creative? Start with a Sketchbook

Whether you are trying to become a full-time artist or simply want a place to jot down ideas, the first place to start is a sketchbook. It’s the perfect place to record thoughts, sketch your skills, spark creativity, and, most importantly, take risks. Think of it as your portable studio! Keeping a sketchbook is not hard or expensive; it just needs to become a habit.


Here are seven best practices for how to start or improve your sketchbook practice:

1. Own It

Your sketchbook is your personal journal, so first, you need to get one! You can purchase or make one out of whatever you want: tracing paper, colored paper, hardbound, wirebound, or softcover. Just find one you like and will use. Even a digital tablet could work! Just make sure your preferred art materials (pencils, pens, paints, etc.) work on your surface.

2. Keep It Portable

When it comes to portability, “easy” usually translates to “often” so pick one you can carry easily like a pocket-sized sketchbooks or a little larger. This will let you sketch whenever you have a spare minute.

3. Take Risks

Sketchbooks are for experimentation, not perfection, so be sure to relax and play around. Try to enjoy the process instead of fretting about the results. Simply appreciate the process. One thing might trigger an idea later.

4. Draw Every Day

They say practice makes perfect, but since perfection isn’t our goal, we’ll just say consistent practice certainly will improve your skills. A great tip is to date the pages as you go; it’s a great way to look back at the progress you’ve made over time.

5. Scrapbook It

Within your sketchbook, play around with new materials. Use color, all types of papers, collage, Post-It notes, stamps, ink, or whatever you can find. Collect as much as possible to get creative juices flowing.

6. Jumpstart Your Pages

When you don’t know what to draw, tackle that dreaded white page with a dash of color, a cartoon doodle characters, or hand it off to a child to scribble fearlessly. Remember, it is not meant to be framed, just be an inspiration. Just start; you don’t have to finish.

7. Use It For Everything

Doodle, sketch from observation, create patterns, practice hand lettering, write inspiring quotes, use it as a diary, test art materials, or attach photos, tickets, business cards, leaves, or flowers. It is your personal sketchbook to do with it whatever you wish.


I hope you are inspired to keep a personal and useful sketchbook. Just grab that pencil (or whatever!) and get going. Enjoy!


Looking for more reading material? Je Suis Le Cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso by Mark Pollard details Picasso’s sketchbooks, which he began in Barcelona in 1894. For more than seventy years, as the young painter blossomed and matured into the greatest artist of the twentieth century, he kept a record of his ideas and thoughts, so that by 1964 he had 175 sketchbooks, a unique and startling picture of the mind of a genius at work. It’s worth a read!

Pages from my sketchbooks.