The following post is taken from the Australian Type Foundry Newsletter. Wayne is doing wonderful work and really generous with his knowledge. If you're not already subscribed to his newsletter you should absolutely check it out (link in the right of the footer on the atf.com.au site)!
This particular article is full of solid advise! To good not to share...
I get a lot of questions about my sketchbooks – how often do I draw in them? What is the best brand of sketchbook? Where do you get your inspiration? Sketchbooking is a really important part of my creative process, it's where the ideas first appear in physical form. So, below are my top 5 tips for sketchbooking (and a couple of images from my sketchbooks at the end) – starting with the answers to some common questions:
How often do you draw?
It varies according to my projects at any given time, but I try to commit something to the page at least every week. Simply put: the more the better! I fill 1-2 sketchbooks a year.
What's the best brand of sketchbook?
Whatever works for you! The books you use don't make you a better typographer, but there are some things I have learned, such as the importance of paper size: small books are convenient to carry but I found my flourishes were constricted by the paper edges, so they lacked expressive freedom. These days I mostly use Moleskines because they're durable and they have a cute pocket inside the back cover for carrying scraps and references. The paper is a little flimsy though, meaning you can really only draw on one side.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It's everywhere! I've been known to take photographs of old signage, keep clippings of fonts I like, buy stuff from junk shops with bits of type on them... however mostly I find inspiration by following super-creative typographers on Instagram. Every day as I flick though the images, it makes me want to pick up a pen and do something cool.
5 top tips for keeping a sketchbook
- Avoid blank-page syndrome Time to do sketching free-play is increasingly rare, so don't waste time thinking of something important to say. Keep a list of inspirational phrases, funny words, names and ideas on the last page of your sketchbook.
- Precious (said in a Gollum voice) My books are a means to an end, they are not precious. We all want perfect sketchbooks that people will go ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over, but you have to make mistakes somewhere. I love the battered dog-eared nature of my books, because it shows they have done their job. Alternatively, you can use non-precious paper so you feel more free to make mistakes. Scrawl over newspapers, old magazines, or use butcher’s paper or the backs of laser prints. I once spent $7 on a reel-end from a local newspaper (the last 30m of newsprint that they don’t use on the big presses). I covered the entire 30 metres of paper in blackletter and brushpen practice, then recycled the lot.
- Embrace your styleI often look at my own stuff and hate it, but it takes a long time to learn that other people don’t see it the same way. Try to look at your work through other people's eyes. If you have letter-envy for somebody else's work, chances are they like yours too!
- Be patient It takes a long time, a bloody long time, to get good. Frustration and impatience should be accepted as part of the process. Just keep doing and doing and doing it, and try to push through the roadblocks with persistence. Don’t expect a high success rate – my books are full of failed ideas, poor execution and multiple rubbings-out (especially with flourishes!)
- Find the rhythm within your words Look for shapes that fit together naturally, and pay careful attention to negative space. The spaces inside and around your letters are actually MORE important than the letters themselves. Reading is all about rhythm! The spaces should be consistent in size and if you can achieve spacing rhythm, you’re halfway there.