London Life Exhibitions

the sketchbook project

October 22, 2012

You know i like a story. Let me tell you this one.

About a year ago, my friend carole told me about a sketchbook project originated in the states. ‘You sign up, they send you a sketchbook and you submit it for everyone to see’ she stated. What? How? When? ‘I’ll send you a link to their website’ she said. ‘I think you should enter, it’s your kind of thing’!

True to her word, carole sent me the link and i probably took a look for a few minutes before getting distracted with something else!  This was in september 2011. A few days ago i was trying to file away some emails and get rid of some others when i stumbled upon that very same one. Ah, i remembered thinking, i never really got to grips with it! Let’s take another look. What i did see immediately was that under  their yearly road shows around the states, they had listed london. To my utter surprise they were exhibiting in the canada water library from the 12th-19th october 2012. People, i read this on the 17th october. Serendipity, or what? I managed to go on the last day at near closing time:) Phew!

Meet steven.

Brooklyn-based, steven co-founded the sketchbook project, a constant evolving library of handmade artist’s books, in 2006 with around 500 entries from artists. He told me that in 2011, it attracted 28.000 entries from across the globe. Wow! The project encourages artists and non-artists from diverse backgrounds to share their process with each other and the public. Participants sign up online to receive a blank sketchbook, fill the book with work in any form and mail it back to brooklyn. The results are catalogued and archived in a publicly accessible storefront library and exhibited on tour in cities and towns across the states and now further afield, ie london. Since 2007, steven and his small team have interacted with more than 70.000 artists and received submissions from more than 120 countries on six continents.

Having toured america, they ended this year with the london exhibition and i was very excited to have had the chance to see it. They brought around 1600 handmade artists’ books from across europe.

So, what happened at the library? Well, i had my little introductory tour by the lovely jessica.

Basically you created a library card for yourself and then decided how to search for a sketchbook.

Here is a list of the 2012 themes each artist chose. For 2013 the themes change.

Once you chose your sketchbooks you simply waited for them to be handed to you, which literally took a minute or two.

Let’s look at some pages from one of the sketchbooks with the title: in 50 years.

Once you were done, you simply repeated the process. I hope you like some of the work i photographed for you!

Then i met a german lady called petra, who actually submitted a sketchbook in 2012. She works for the european weather centre in reading and told me this was the very first sketchbook she ever tackled. It’s so encouraging to see that not only artists sign up. What a great first attempt!

Now, the question remained: do i sign up to submit a sketchbook? Can you guess the answer? Of course i did and was even able to walk away with my sketchbook, instead of having it sent to me. Additionally, i can later on choose to have a digital version. The digital library is the online companion to the brooklyn art library. They’ll professionally photograph my book with their trusty digitizer and add it to the library for me to share with people from anywhere around the world. Crazy, no? I better wait to see what i come up with first before i take that decision:)

Here’s the good news. Deadline to sign up for 2013 ends 31st october 2012. Yep! You can all still join in if you want to. The cost to participate is $25. I have until 15th january 2013 to fill the sketchbook and return it for inclusion in a travelling exhibition and permanent collection at the brooklyn art library. Anyone care to join me in this? You will find the themes to choose from here.

When I asked steven and his team whether they’ll return next year he said that coming to london was an experiment. It was entirely self-funded and they would need to have sponsorship to do it again. They were due to exhibit in australia, but unfortunately things didn’t work out. Can anyone think of who might be interested in sponsoring next year’s travelling exhibition in london? If you have any ideas, do let me know.

So, what do you think? Isn’t this a great project? How do you feel about creating a sketchbook and having it permanently housed in a library?

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  • Reply caroline @trend-daily October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    OMG-do you know Tina-I discovered them last year too-thought it looked like a completely fantastic idea and then forgot all about it! Thank God you just caught their exhibition-and boy do I wish I had got to see it too. BRILLIANT, love it. Thanks a million for sharing. How clever is Petra, when she’s never tried anything like it before? The sketchbooks look incredibly inspiring. Will be signing up right now-feeling nervous and excited all at the same time! Thanks sweetie xx

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Isn’t it weird we all forgot about it? It was really wonderful to have been able to see it live. I can’t believe my luck!!

      Yes, Petra was great. How inspirational to see that people just try things, even if out of their comfort zone!

      Excited you’re joining the challenge x

  • Reply Kim Tillyer October 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I loved taking part in the Sketchbook Project( I’ve done the past two years). We visited on the opening Friday and I forgot to take pictures so thank you for this…those black and orange pages are great. Here is a link to my book

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm

      I’m really excited, although feel already the pressure of ‘what am I going to do’:)

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful sketchbook. I’m hoping to also have a digital version. Thank you for stopping by here and leaving a comment.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos:)

  • Reply PetraB October 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Tina,
    thank you so much for telling the story. The sketchbooks are just so amazing and exciting and I am so glad I took part. I have signed up again and guess what: my new very empty sketchbook arrived today waiting to be filled! Go on, sign up, you will enjoy it! It will be so much fun.
    It was an amazing evening and I very much enjoyed meeting you. Take care, Petra.

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Hallo Petra,

      I have signed up!! I did it there and then and collected my book on site. It’s staring at me right now, saying: so, how will you fill me???

      I’m excited you’re so excited. What a great challenge. I very much look forward to it..

      It was great to meet you too. Stay an inspiration to everyone who might be scared to take the plunge:)

  • Reply Theresa October 23, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I’ve heard of the Sketchbook Project, and I think it’s a fantastic idea. This project is so up your alley, Tina. I can see you doing something really creative, colorful, and fun with your sketchbook. I have considered joining in the past, and I will do so again now that I know you’re on board.
    Also, thank you for sharing this post. I’ve seen people do posts on their own sketchbook, but it’s nice to get a glimpse at the people in charge of the project. It’s such a great movement.

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Ha. Come on T. Remember we talk about ‘just doing’? Sometimes this can help out of a rut. You’ll be so great at this… join the fun!

      Are you on board???

  • Reply Catherine Bedson October 23, 2012 at 2:24 am

    This idea is beyond fantastic. Like the straws in Janine’s talk, the sketchbooks are a great way to connect people. Such a wonderful outlet for creative people. I’m going to ask my youngest daughter if she’d like to do it with me.
    Thanks Tina.

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      What a great analogy to Janine’s straws:)

      Oh, that would be so nice for mum and daughter to do a collaborative sketchbook. I bet it would be fantastic. Let me know if and when you sign up and what theme you’re thinking of choosing! xx

  • Reply Sarah Harvey October 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Hi–How about the Bodleian Library in Oxford? I know that is not London, or the library at the British Museum of Art for an exhibit next year in the UK?

    And I would love to do this, but have to wait for 2013 because my life is too crazy right now to think about one more thing. so how can I get a sketch book after January? Thanks, Sarah

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you for stopping by…

      I’m not sure whether London is a must for them or whether they would consider Oxford. I think that there would be no problem in getting a space to exhibit. It’s more about getting sponsorship for them to travel over, accommodation and the shipment of the books.

      Not sure when they open registration for 2014. Keep looking at their site in the new year. You have till October 2013 to sign up for submitting a sketchbook in January 2014.

      Look forward to your entry.

  • Reply Ingrid October 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Fascinating TIna- had not heard of this before. I think it is such an interesting time at the moment, people are finding new ways of communicating, selling things, coming together. We hear a lot about the negatives of this period of change- but this post a great example of the positive.

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      I know. I love movements like these as they connect us all in the most beautiful and creative ways. This is just another great example! x

  • Reply Nicola October 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Well of course Tina, it takes your lateral creative look at things to make me realise what’s under my nose!

    Just like Caroline, I discovered the sketchbook project maybe a year ago and even receive their updates on Facebook. Have I done anything about it? No!! Would I think to blog about it? No!!

    So now I must do something about it! Such a great idea x

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      And…. are you??? Go on, we can then all support each other and make sure we all finish for January 2013. It would be such fun. Are you in???? x

  • Reply Kelly Sparkes October 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    How lucky to find the email in time to attend the event. This is such a fabulous project, I haven’t heard of it before so thanks for writing about it.

    I wish I could’ve attended to see the sketch books in person. I have to do one for my ID course, so will be looking at the digital library for inspiration.

    Your photos are fantastic, the one on organ donation takes me back to my time at the Human Tissue Authority, it’s such an interesting topic.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with x

    • Reply tina October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      Gosh, I was trying to imagine how I would have felt had I opened the email now:)

      Yes, the digital library is excellent. Although not everyone chooses that route, there is plenty for you to get inspiration from.

      The Human Tissue Authority??? Wow, sounds serious:) Yes, I loved that sketchbook a lot. It just beautifully told the story of how far medicine has come. Simple and effective!

  • Reply Holly October 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    You like good stories? You TELL good stories! What a fantastic post. The fact that you revisited this idea when you did … it’s just so meant to be. and Carole was right, this is so your thing. I’m so glad you decided to take part. the library will definitely be enhanced by Tina’s notebook. Can’t wait to see what you make of it. I’m sure it will be great. Good luck and have FUN.

    Although I think this is such a fascinating project, it’s not one I see myself taking part in, but I sure do see myself enjoying the product!

    Love the organ transplant theme … I really like science, medical thingies 🙂


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