Lauren Simkin Berke

Lauren Simkin Berke likes to draw vintage photos that she’s found in flea markets and second-hand stores. "The drawings are small, voyeuristic and a bit obsessive," says the Brooklyn, New York-based illustrator and painter. The sketches make up her most valued possessions: "If there were to be a fire in my building, and I had a moment to grab one thing before running out, I would take the small suitcase of my sketchbooks from the last two years."

Serge Bloch

Paris-based illustrator and art director Serge Bloch creates drawings for newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. This is a sketch to find an idea for The New York Times' science section on the subject of why we like pets. "I like newsprint," he says. I like the grey of the text, the black of the titles, the elegance of the compositions." Like many other artists, he often revisits past sketchbooks. "I dive into my old stories again and I find ideas that I have put down and then abandoned. Sometimes one of them becomes a book project, or a drawing for a magazine or a newspaper. It is like a bottle of wine that has been forgotten in the cellar and has become better while aging."

Frédérique Daubal

"My sketchbooks allow me to be free, to express myself without boundaries," says Frédérique Daubal, a French freelance graphic designer. "In a way, my sketchbooks are far removed from the reality as everything can be included and quality is not important.

Andrea Dezsö

Andrea Dezsö is a Transylvania-born, New York–based artist teaching at Parsons the New School for Design. The requirements for her sketchbooks are many: "I am very particular about the kind of paper used, the feel of it, the smoothness, the shade, the transparency," she says. What fits the bill? Muji lined notebooks, the covers of which she decorates with everything from stickers to paper cutouts.

Isidro Ferrer

The Spanish illustrator Isidro Ferrer keeps many sketchbooks, organized according to use. "In the sketchbooks, I try to order my world, to upgrade information, to make a note of events," he says. Here, Drawing a Line Seem to Be Easy; Barcelona, Spain, June 13, 2007.

Isidro Ferrer

Is; Huesca, Spain, January 20, 2008.

John Hendrix

New York–based illustrator John Hendrix began using a sketchbook when he was 10 or 11 years old; now, he carries one at all times. "The sketchbook," he says, "should be a place where it is safe to make mistakes. If a sketchbook is not a repository of raw ideas, but a touring portfolio of my best work, it loses the very thing that makes it special." This bird-man sketch was done during a faculty meeting at Parsons.

John Hendrix

Sketch made while grounded at the Islip, New York, airport.

John Hendrix

Sketch exploring flat graphic and informative drawing.

Henrik Delehag

"My sketchbook comes with me absolutely everywhere," says Henrik Delehag, one-half of Benrik Limited, a self-described "ideas factory for books, films and art." "Leaving it at home amputates part of me." Although he doesn’t paste other materials onto the pages, the books become so thick that they strain their bindings. "When the binding can no longer be repaired with gaffer tape," he says, "I give the sketchbook a funeral in the family grave of my bottom drawer."

Renato Alarcão

"My sketchbooks keep a record of all sorts of events, trips I’ve taken, movies I’ve watched and books I’ve read," says the Rio de Janeiro–based graphic designer Renato Alarcão. But they’re not strictly diaristic; they contain "visual experiments that I usually don’t dare to apply in my commercial work." This fish monotype was snatched from an "old school book."

Renato Alarcão

A watercolor of one of the artist’s favorite models, Patricia, a circus performer.

Paulus M. Dreibholz

The London-based Austrian typographer Paulus M. Dreibholz began keeping a notebook as a graphic design student. Back then, the books were about "composition, colours, layouts and simple visual energy"; today, they’re much more pragmatic while still being a rich repository for "private and professional ideas."

Henrik Drescher

Legendary Danish illustrator Henrik Drescher refers to sketchbooks as his "ideas’ filing cabinets." He curates the results, pulling out those concepts that have relevance to his personal and commissioned work.

Co.Design

A Look Inside The Sketchbooks Of 10 Terrific Creatives

A new book peeks at the private musings of graphic designers and illustrators.

"A sketchbook is like a valve, a pressure release system," the German designer Daniel Kluge tells Richard Brereton, the author of Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators & Creatives. "Instead of weighing things up in my head, I give them a place in my sketchbook. Sketches are like embryos, and as soon as they have been realized, they are born and start to live."

It’s an eloquent way to describe the act of filling a sketchbook with unfettered ideas. But it isn’t a universal description. While some artists and designers hold dear to every single sketch, shopping list, and piece of ephemera that finds its way into a book, others ruthlessly cull their work, preserving only those "embryos" that stand a chance of coming to term. It’s these differences in process that make Sketchbooks, a new offering from Laurence King Publishing, so intriguing. Accompanying a selection of the images snatched from their books, written pieces by the artists go into detail about the how they use their own sketchbooks to observe and document the world around them.

Despite all the variations in theme, style, and technique, all of the examples shown here constitute the visual daydreams that happen when the pressure valve releases and imagination is given free rein. For their owners, they can be important reference points in their creative development, which can be later sources of inspiration for future projects. For us, they’re a rare, intimate glimpse into how artists produce work that they don’t expect to be seen.

Buy Sketchbooks for $14 here.

[All images courtesy Laurence King]

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