Graphic features photographed pages from the sketchbooks of dozens of designers around the world.

Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister, Austrian-born, New York-based designer and provocateur, has maintained expansive sketchbooks since he was seventeen. "I find it easier to think about an idea once it’s down on paper, which gives me the opportunity to squeeze it (until the juice runs down its legs)."

Michael Beirut

New York-based Pentagram partner Michael Bierut has been keeping sketchbooks since he started drawing in 1982. “They function like a security blanket for me. I can’t go into a meeting unless I have my book in my hand. Because I carry one everywhere, I tend to misplace them. Losing one makes me frantic. Once I left one on the roof of a cab on the Upper West Side. I ended up walking ten blocks, retracing the taxi’s route, until I found it on Broadway at 63rd Street, intact except for some tire marks.”

Sean Adams

Sean Adams, co-founder of AdamsMorioka in Beverly Hills, California (and Co.Design expert blogger), has kept a sketchbook since his first day at CalArts in 1982. Keeping the sketchbooks is a discipline for Adams: “When I look at them as a whole, the common theme of the notebooks is popular culture combined with a Surrealist process. Sounds fancy, but there is often no premeditation of the objects or images selected.”

Noma Bar

Israeli-born, London-based caricaturist Noma Bar creates abstract images of his subjects using objects relevant to the person’s life. In his over 60 sketch books you can see him working through these ideas by creating different body parts out of found materials.

Ken Carbone

Ken Carbone, the co-principal of New York-based Carbone Smolan Agency (another Co.Design expert blogger), takes the sketchbook ethos to a high level of precision. For instance, "I have custom covers made of white goat skin, which I paint with leather dye when I start a new book. It’s like a christening. These sketchbooks contain nearly 5,000 pages of 'beginnings.' I really don’t consider any single page a finished work but more as fuel to explore a particular idea further."

Milton Glaser

A treasure of American design, Milton Glaser has designed posters, packaging, publications, environments, the iconic "I heart NY" logo. He has kept a sketchbook since attending the High School of Music & Art in New York. He says he still keeps sketchbooks to "remind me of what I’ve forgotten."

Sara Fanelli

talian-born, London-based children’s book author and illustrator Sara Fanelli’s first sketchbooks were a record of her travels when she was in her teens. Now, Fanelli explains, “I have several sketchbooks all at once. One is to keep ideas, some are for visual research (different paper for different media), and then usually a new one when traveling.”

Paul Cox

London-based illustrator Paul Cox says he uses a sketchbook “to warm up my drawing fluency before I start working on my larger drawings. It sharpens my responses and speeds up my hand-eye coordination.”

Pep Carrió

Pep Carrió, a Spanish graphic designer, began to work on these diaries in 2007 as a project to create an image every day. Carrió says that his books are "a portable laboratory, where I can work with difference ideas and found images."

Elwood H. Smith

Illustrator and animator Elwood H. Smith says his sketchbooks are "just collections of doodles made while talking on the phone. I’ve been taping them into sketchbooks since about 1984."

Tim Lane

Tim Lane, a New York-based illustrator and comic artist, also has a multiple-book practice. “I keep difference sketchbooks for difference reasons.” One is more like a journal, in which he documents life experiences and weird dreams. Another is a pocket-size Moleskine that he keeps with him at all times “to record things whenever I go out.”

Clive Piercy

Clive Piercy, English-born proprietor of the Santa Monica-based design firm Air Conditioned, has been keeping sketchbooks, as he says, "on and off for donkey’s years." He considers them a "visual diary." Although there is no theme, Piercy likes “wordplay, and these pages afford me a chance to stretch my associative wordsmithing limbs."

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A Look Inside the Sketchbooks of 12 Top Designers [Slideshow]

If you peek inside a sketchbook of a designer, you can see the birth of their ideas: everything from corporate communications to hand-screened posters, beginning life as wandering doodles. But sketchbooks are usually private affairs; you only see inside them at the personal invitation for the designer himself. That's why Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World's Great Graphic Designers (The Monacelli Press) is such an exciting new book: It's like a exclusive journey inside the brains of the greatest design minds working today.

Authors Steven Heller and Lita Talarico take us inside the sketchbooks of top designers like Milton Glaser, Michael Bierut, and Stefan Sagmeister, showing the intriguing evolution of familiar logos, typefaces, and book covers. Some designers use their sketchbooks as creative outlets for their over-computerized lives, making room for the painting and drawing their design work doesn't require. And many of these sketchbooks also serve as journals for the designers' daily life, so we get to see activities like meals and vacations documented as beautifully as future design projects.

It's also a treat to see how and where designers like to sketch. Some use fancy hard-bound Moleskines, some swear by cheap drugstore spiral-bound notebook. Some designers create collages made from found objects, others have a ritualistic dedication to using the same type of pen. But no matter how designers choose to use their sketchbooks, each page tells a fascinating story about the creative process. Graphic proves that a fresh sheet of notebook paper is destined to become a work of art when placed in the right designer's hands.

All images copyright their designers, courtesy of The Monacelli Press

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