When did you start using sketchbooks?
Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved having little notebooks and diaries to write and draw in. Once I got into secondary school, it was mandatory to keep one and sketch in it once a week. It was our homework but it never really felt like work to me. I was never rushing to get something done for my teacher because I was always doing something in my sketchbook.
What makes you want to document in this form?
I’ll never force myself to use a sketchbook and my way of using them is always changing. Sometimes I document things on loose pages, like research or drawings, and then I clip or sew them together to make a type of book. I think it’s just a completely natural way for me to work, and necessary too. I always need to have a reference to do all the work I do whether it’s painting or sculpture. I put a lot of emphasis on preliminary drawings and research and a sketchbook is sometimes the best place to do these things.
Carrying a sketchbook around with you is also a good idea, you can do spontaneous drawings or paintings and write down ideas, feelings and thoughts as they come. It’s also fun to look back on your sketchbooks. They can be time capsules, full of memories and really nostalgic.
What materials do you use?
I like to do any accurate observational drawings in pencil or pen but a sketchbook is really a place to experiment. You can find all sorts of materials on mine; oil pastels, paint, thread, collage, ink, photographs and other stuff like sweet wrappers or bits of paper that I like. I try not to limit myself in my sketchbooks, sometimes I find I make nice pieces of art but mostly there are pages where I explore ideas and try anything.
How spontaneous is your practice? Do you plan much out when working in a sketchbook?
It varies, I’m still trying to figure out what my process is when creating work and my sketchbook is a good place to start. In terms of my work I always feel that I make better work after doing accurate drawings in my sketchbook or on a drawing board. However, I’ll never plan out how a page in my sketchbook will look. At the end of the day, they’re disposable things that we shouldn’t be precious about. I’ve been there before, making a really nice painting in my sketchbook and then kicking myself because I should have done it on a canvas or piece of wood. So planning is absolutely necessary in my work but sprinkled with a little bit of spontaneity.
What was the last thing you documented in your sketchbook?
The last thing I did in my sketchbook was a series of drawings for a sculpture. They’re negative space drawings of a big structure made of wood, cloth, cardboard and plastic bin bags. I was given an assignment in school to make a 3D representation of the structure. I decided to look at the negative space on four sides of it to then make a sort of cube made of paper. This is a good example of when preliminary drawings in your sketchbook are really important.
What was the first thing you remember documenting in your sketchbook?
This question is kind of funny because it’s impossible to know! I suppose when I first started using sketchbooks regularly I would draw my friends in school. I was also into calligraphy so you could find a lot of that in my really old sketchbooks.
What is your favourite page?
I don’t have one. I suppose the most valuable pages are the ones with the most information on them or the ones that have the potential to provide inspiration for other work.
I thought about this one for a while and then I remembered a diary entry I made a few months ago. I can’t remember why I wrote it or the context in which I wrote it, but here it is. ‘Apparently we’re all born with a hole inside of us, it’s what makes humans humans and rabbits rabbits, or something. We spend our lives trying to fill it and we enjoy it. Is that the purpose of life? Do we do everything we do because we’re trying to fill the hole? Like even ‘selfless’ acts for others that we do, do we do them because it makes us feel good? Trying to fill some one else’s hole actually fills your own. That sounds fucking wrong. I know this shit is cheesy as fuck but I’m just trying to get my thoughts rolling so I can make art.’