Friday, July 12, 2013

The Sketchbook Project

I signed up for a new library card the other day. It's a card that let me check out books of a different kind than I usually write about, but they were books all the same.


I am talking about books from the Sketchbook Mobile Library that made a stop here on Wednesday. The library, which travels the U.S. year-round, is part of The Sketchbook Project, a global art project, the brainchild of two Atlanta art school students, Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker. The library contains some 4500 sketchbooks created last year by anyone who wanted to participate. 


The project's main library is the Brooklyn Art Library located in Brooklyn, New York. Its archive of sketchbooks totals over 27,000 books containing visions of their creators since 2006. 

Visitors to the mobile library register for a library card which allows them to 'check out' two sketchbooks at a time. The reader can choose books by theme - Strangers, Location, Secret Codes and many others - or just a random one. You look at your two books, return them, and with your library card you can check out two more. No overdue fines!

A nasty thunderstorm had just blown through town and it was still drizzling when I arrived at the scene. A couple of other hardy souls and I huddled under the library's awning and flipped through sketchbooks commenting to one another at the creativity and whimsy of the makers. 

Some featured pen and ink, buttons, ribbons, drawings in colored pencil or markers, photographs, calligraphy, cutout images and words. They were fascinating. 

I got hold of this one by Krystel Arends from Queensland, Australia. (Each book has the artist's name and location on a sticker fixed to the back cover.)

Then I looked at a another book by Paul Soupiset of San Antonio, Texas, that contained this image:

I love these sketches of all the little places people call 'home'.

Another artist, Elspeth, was from London and another, Trevor, was from Leek in Staffordshire, England.

The librarians were none other than founder Steven Peterman and his lovely wife, Sara. Unfortunately I failed to get their photo, but you can sort of see Sara standing in the shot of the inside of the library.

They had blank project sketchbooks for sale ($25) and of course I bought one. It is 5-by-7 inches in size, has 16 pages to play with, and a somewhat sturdy, plain cardboard cover just begging to be decorated.

There is a barcode on the back cover that I use to register my book and pick a category from the website The Sketchbook Project. Then I have until January 15, 2014 to fill it with my creative goodness and mail it to the Brooklyn address. Next year, it will go on tour and then will be permanently shelved in Brooklyn. How exciting is that!

The mobile library is on tour until the middle of October. The schedule is listed on the website, plus you can track the library's progress, so see if it will be in a city or town near you. 

You can also order a sketchbook on the website and see some of the sketchbooks that are in the digital library.

The project is great fun and I am looking forward to doodling in my sketchbook. Just think, soon I will have my own book in a library!


  1. I know someone (via the internet) who has a sketchbook in this year's library. Her name is Elizabeth Smith and she blogs at you'll come across her sketchbook!

    I think it's great that you got to see the touring library of sketchbooks, and that you're going to participate in the coming year--good for you! I have taken a peek at some of the sketchbooks online. I think this is a really cool project.

    1. Thanks Kathy for the tip on Elizabeth's blog. I will take a look. The library was only here for about six hours so maybe I can access her book online. It is a wonderful project and so much fun to see how some people see the world.

  2. Belle, how wonderful! I love this idea. Maybe they'll come to Iowa. Maybe I could use a sketchbook for a diary. I can't draw.

    1. I think the closest it will get to you is Missouri or Kansas. Maybe next year. You could petition for a visit!

      One book I looked at Kat, only contained photos and writing. So I don't think drawing is a requirement. A diary with a doodle now and then would be perfect. You should try it. You could record your bicycle trips and insert leaves and seed pods!

  3. That's pretty awesome. I would totally do a sketchbook. I hope they come my way some time. Have fun sketching!

    1. Lark, please go to the website and order a sketchbook. It sounds like you would have fun filling it. Let me know if you give it a try!

  4. What a neat idea! Glad you got(get) to be part of it!

    Joyce in KS

    1. Joyce, I just hope I don't wait until December 31st to start sketching!