This article was written by Justin Gohde and has been edited and published with permission of the author.
Do you only use your blog to show off your old sketchbooks and drawings?
If so, why not use your blog AS your sketchbook? With a laptop and internet access, your online “sketchbook” can always represent the now. . . right now.
That’s quite a step up from sketchbooks of the past, wouldn’t you say?
Sketchbooks throughout history
Leonardo Da Vinci may be the most famous sketchbook artist of all time. His drawings and sketches—which were initially just collections of loose paper—were gradually bound into sketchbooks. One of those (the Codex Leicester) has the honor of being the most expensive book, ever!
Featuring topics as diverse as anatomy, engineering, and architecture, Da Vinci sketchbooks are best known for combining both drawings and ideas on paper—and although they were created hundreds of years ago, few other sketchbooks (if any) could rival their sheer brilliance.
Yet even Leonardo’s sketchbooks pale in comparison to what is now possible. . .
Today, sketchbooks have become sketch blogs
I first began to keep an active sketchbook three years ago, and since then I’ve filled two dozen volumes with drawings, watercolors, and sketches.
My sketchbooks tend to summarize my daily adventures, including(most recently) my move from Richmond, Virginia to London, England.
Scanning and emailing pictures of all my drawings to friends, family and patrons soon became very impractical, so I started my blog, paintings.drawings.arithmetic to make things easier for myself.
At first, I had the goal of publishing one piece of artwork per day. Only later did my sketch blog begin to take on new life as an outlet for the present.
I found myself putting up drawings and sketches for paintings that were still in progress. Then, I found myself putting up drawings and sketches for paintings that would probably never be completed.
Finally I began to use by blog as a multi-medium sketchbook in its own right, incorporating not only drawings and paintings but also photography and video.
You see, while Leonardo Da Vinci was constrained by the 2-dimensional nature pen and paper, contemporary artists have a completely new hyper-dimensional platform available to show their thoughts, artwork, and sketches to the world!
5 ways blogging has changed sketchbooks forever
1. Blogs are free of the physical limitations of a traditional sketchbook.
Moving pictures (in the form of videos) can be added to a blog quickly and easily, allowing for a dynamic depiction of reality that isn’t really possible with traditional 2D and 3D media. Even sound is possible on a sketchblog!
2. Blogs allow for quick referencing.
When writing, I sometimes allude to a specific cultural phenomenon (like the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for example). With a blog, I can link to a video clip or film summary and immediately help my readers put my drawings in their proper context—something that isn’t possible with a standard sketchbook.
Another problem is that traditional sketchbooks offer very limited space for footnotes and references—and anything you add to a sketchbook has aesthetic implications on your artwork. In a blog, however, links are included nearly invisibly within the page.
3. Blogs are non-linear.
Western books are traditionally read front-to-back; starting at the beginning, ending at the end. Blogs, however, can be read backwards, forwards, sideways, horizontally, vertically and zigzag.
By tagging articles with similar keywords and linking to old posts on the same topic, artists can express a nearly infinite number of relationships and cross-references.
Even better, people can enter your sketchbook at any point, and leave at any point. Blogs allow your sketchbook to have no beginning and no end.
4. Blogs transcend boundaries of space and time.
The internet is everywhere, so posts from my sketch blog (which is written in London) can be read by an artist in Manhattan, instantaneously.
Plus, today’s fiber-optic cables allow ideas to spread nearly as fast as the speed of light, meaning that artists can react to the ideas and work of contemporaries without close physical proximity or a long time delay.
5. Blogs allow for seamless dynamic editing.
Post a painting. Write about a drawing. Don’t like what you’ve written? Just press the edit button and revise it!
As your perception of your work changes, you can always edit your older posts to reflect those new ideas. And for all but the most sophisticated internet user, there will me no big blotchy mark to leave a trail.
Like traveling back and forth in time, blogging allows you to use the future to put your past writings into a more knowledgeable perspective
It’s true that these “hyper-dimensional” online sketchbooks can be neither held nor touched. . . but in my opinion, that’s a small price to pay for all the benefits.
And just think—with artists everywhere keeping sketchbooks online, the world may never again have to wait quite so long for another Leonardo da Vinci to appear.
Learn more about Justin Gohde at his sketch blog, paintings.drawings.arithmetic.