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Tools of the Trade: Sketchbooks


I am not an artist. That is to say, I do not draw, paint or sketch. However, I am a rabid journal keeper and have quite the sketchbook fetish. Here is a round up of the ones I enjoy using.

1. Basic Black Sketchbook (8 1/4 x 11). The little black dress of sketchbooks. Because I like to add sad stick figures, photos and occasionally collage art, I prefer unlined notebooks. Also my handwriting does not always adhere to the space within the lines, thus lined notebooks tend to feel a bit stodgy to me. The paper is thick and holds up nicely to my rather heavy handed writing style. The book lies flat, which is a quality I didn’t realize I needed until I started using this brand. I go through a notebook pretty much every three or four weeks. (What can I say; I’m prolific) so the page count, clocking in at a scant 176 pages is the only downside of this particular sketchbook that’s worth mentioning. When I finish the next one I am thinking about trying the navy blue version, just to shake things up.

2. Hot Pink Basic Sketchbook from Barnes & Noble. I picked this one up several months ago during an overnight trip to Albany. There are no notable differences between this model and the black version, however, the novelty of having a pink notebook wore off rather quickly. Barnes & Noble makes a great affordable sketchbook (8.95) and whenever I’m in there I pick up one or two of them. The pink was a nice vacation from black – it’s amusing to see the lone colored sketchbook on a shelf housed with black ones – but the bookmark ribbon got dirty rather quickly and I had to remove it from sketchbook. In terms of performance, the paper is very thick and excellent quality, with a slick surface that feels quite fancy. Considering the modest price, it’s definitely lots of sketchbook bang for your buck. If I remember correctly, this one has 196 pages. One thing I will say about the pink is the cover shows edge wear really quickly. In fact, when I put it on the shelf I noticed it looked far more worn than the other notebooks, which are older. As much as I lust for the bright green and teal versions, in the future I will probably stick with the standard black. Unless they bring back the red or the silver, which with the holidays rapidly approaching is entirely possible.

3. Basic Black Lined Journal. I know I already stated my preference for unlined notebooks, but I am a sucker for this one. It’s 5 x 8 and has something like 225 pages. The paper is clean, bright and crisp. I use this for a Hipster PDA so it has to be small enough to fit into my beast of burden handbag. I tend to go through these a bit slower and don’t tend to tire of them as quickly. Since I do love all things related to notebooks, pens and office supplies, I do fear product fatigue. So far this little notebook has persevered in a way fancier planners – of which I have many – have not.

4. Black Soft Bound Medium Journal Actually, I have this in red and I ADORE it. The cover requires more cleaning than I’m used to, but the paper is wonderful. It’s graph paper – something I’m quite addicted to – and this is my special journal. I rarely use it. The paper is nice quality but not as bright or thick as my other notebooks. Because it has a soft cover, I worry about warping as I fill more pages. I keep it sandwiched between two chunky notebooks and so far crisis averted.

5. Ecosystem 100% Recycled Hard Rule Kiwi Journal Whew, say that ten times fast. A gift from a friend who knows my penchant for bright green, I haven’t found a use for this gorgeous journal. As has been my experience with most recycled notebooks, the pages look a little dirty, but I suppose this quality only adds to the cred. At some point – probably when my hipster PDA is full – I might start using this one. We’ll see.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Raybear permalink
    11/23/2009 2:01 pm

    I love #4! I have that size as the private scribbling journal and then I have it in the 4×6 version which I use for poetry scribbles.

  2. redlami permalink
    11/24/2009 2:35 am

    That basic sketchbook is really classy. But I have to wonder about a guy who’d give those as a present instead of, say, a little black dress.

  3. Kristina permalink
    11/24/2009 9:06 pm

    I buy sketchbooks from Barnes & Noble all the time. I found your blog through a comment you left at pen addict’s blog. Great site. Very fun.

  4. 12/07/2009 1:19 pm

    @Kristina – Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found me.
    @Redlami – Ha. Any guy who would gift these beauties to me is a definite keeper.
    @Raybear – Ooh. Naturally, these scribbling notebooks will be left to me a hundred years from now.

  5. Gluestick Goddess permalink
    12/07/2009 1:41 pm

    I use number 4 quite a bit. I love those too!


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