As digital artists, we glorify the finished pieces.

The work that you can proudly put into your portfolio after hours of hard work getting everything exactly right on the artboards of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.

However sketchbooks are where the magic happens. They are where you can pour your mind in the form of words, drawings and scribbles without any pressure to be perfect. I have a horrendous memory, so my sketchbook is where I write all of the funny conversations I have or overhear while on a longtail boat in Thailand, sitting at a cafe in Italy, or watching Netflix with a library’s wifi. I love looking back at moments not with photographs but with my art(I’m biased, I know).

I also love people watching and am amazed at how many different kinds of people there are. How are there such vastly distinct ways to make a nose?! So if I’m in public and have a sketchbook I love looking at strangers and drawing them. It’s great to draw from your imagination but I believe you have to learn to sketch from real life first, and then you can totally start to twist and tweak the way you personally see the world. This way people will recognize that the hand you draw is a hand, and not a baby octopus.

Sketchbooks allow you to play with a concept before actually making it into a bigger piece. My teachers at MSU would always make us sketch about 30 concepts before moving on to the real project. This way you can get all your ideas about the concept out onto paper and pick the best one. Many times what you thought would be the ideal visual solution is actually not as good as your 20th idea. I also love working out my creative muscles to see just how many variations of one idea I can make.

One last big advantage of having a sketchbook is being able to look back on your skill growth. When I look back at old work, sometimes I’m a little embarrassed. I actually think that’s good though. You should be practicing so much that you can see how much you’ve grown and improved even within the span of 6 months. You can also keep track of your mental health with a sketchbook. It’s nice to look back at the shitty periods of life and realize you’ve made it to the other side. Art, at least for me, really reflects how I feel figuratively. When I was in college I used to draw very bloody characters and even drew an Adam and Eve with Eve eating Adam’s heart out. Look at my portfolio and I’ve obviously grown out of that phase.