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Finding Your Perfect Sketchbook as an Artist

Finding Your Perfect Sketchbook as an Artist

By GJ Gillespie, Artist 

"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures." - Henry Ward Beecher 

As an artist, your sketchbook is one of the most important tools for capturing ideas and exploring your creative voice. Choosing the right sketchbook can make all the difference in your artistic process. Here are some tips for selecting the perfect art journal for your needs:

Consider the weight and texture of the paper. Do you prefer smooth, heavy weight paper that can handle wet media? Or a lighter paper for portability and dry media? The tooth or texture impacts how drawing tools interact with the page. Experiment with different weights and surfaces.

Pay attention to the paper color tone. White paper provides high contrast, while cream, gray or colored paper offers a softer base for drawing. Think about which background enhances your personal style best. 

Determine the best size for your needs. The A5 medium size at 5.5 x 8.5 inches is popular. Standard sizes are 9 x12 or 8.5 x11 inches, but artists also use small pocket sketchbooks for portability or large 11.5 x 8.25 inch books for bigger studies. Bigger pages are great for mixed media. 

Look for special features like backpocket, perforated pages to easily remove work or a strap closure to keep the book shut. Hardbound or softcover both have advantages. Consider durability and lay-flat capabilities. 

Popular sketchbook brands used by artists include Moleskine, Strathmore, Stillman & Birn, Canson, and Leda Art Supply. Try out a few to compare paper quality. Leda Art Supply offers a variety of sketchbook sizes and dense art paper that respond to a variety of mediums well. While premium thread bound books like these cost more, you can find student grade spiral ringed art pads that are more affordable.

Finding the right sketchbook takes experimentation, but it's worth it. Your journal is part of the creative process, so choose one that inspires you to create your best work every day. As Frida Kahlo said, “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” Let your sketchbook capture your unique artistic reality.

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