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10 Reasons Why it's Worth Keeping a Sketchbook 📚

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

My life changed significantly over four years ago. I was burned out from my previous full-time job and desperately wanted to find something that would become a new goal, a field for personal growth and a passion for me. I knew I had some artistic skills, but I never truly believed in myself. I wasn't consistent and hadn't been developing artistically for a long time.

I decided to start keeping a sketchbook. Well, I had made that decision many times before, and each time it ended after a few pages, meaning after the first unsuccessful drawings...

But this time, I decided to fill the entire sketchbook, from beginning to end, regardless of how many mistakes I would make. That was a huge turning point in my life. I drew whatever came to mind: strange animal hybrids, dreams, funny stories I read online, my favorite characters from movies, or my cat (only when he was asleep, of course). There were a lot of bad drawings, plenty of funny ones, but also a few that were quite good. It was in that sketchbook that I discovered my love for drawing portraits.

Today, I already have eight full sketchbooks, and I'll soon finish two more. Over two years ago, I left my nine-to-five job to focus on art full-time. I create illustrations in both traditional and digital formats, but sketchbooks still remain my favorite place to create. Here are just a few reasons why it's worth keeping a sketchbook:

1. A safe space for creating and experimenting

The sketchbook is your own space. You don't have to show it to anyone or submit it for evaluation like a school art assignment. It's a place for making mistakes, experimenting with styles that inspire you, testing new mediums, writing stories, jotting down dreams, or collecting fashion magazine clippings. Everything you put in it is important because you, as the artist, assign value to it. It's a safe space where you can create whatever you want and discover what you truly enjoy.

2. Learning to be understanding of your own mistakes

My biggest discovery with sketchbooks was that the work in them doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, it doesn't even have to be fully finished. Previously, my perfectionism would prevent me from moving on to the next page after a failed drawing. But once I accepted that progress is not linear and that bad days can happen to anyone, I started appreciating my less successful attempts. This allowed me to move on to the next pages and complete my first sketchbook. Remember that everyone produces less-than-perfect drawings, regardless of their level of skill.

3. A visual journal

A sketchbook can be whatever you want it to be. You can jot down thoughts, collect tickets, or sketch objects you find around you. It becomes a visual journal, a personal book filled with things that interested you at a particular moment. I really enjoy flipping through my sketchbooks or showing them to loved ones and explaining the stories behind each sketch.

4. Collecting ideas

I often get the most ideas right before falling asleep. To avoid losing them, I jot them down in my sketchbook. Sometimes, I don't use words – I prefer to create simple sketches or mind maps. Sketchbooks are great for this purpose, especially if they are portable and can be taken everywhere. After some time, you can accumulate a wealth of ideas and then revisit them to select the best ones for creating a full-sized artwork or designing a character, for example.

5. Testing new mediums

New mediums can be intimidating. That's why I enjoy testing them in sketchbooks, especially if the paper is suitable for both dry and wet media. My current favorite is Talens Art Creation – I use it for pencils and crayons, as well as more demanding materials like ink or gouache. I also experiment and mix multiple mediums at once. Pencil and markers? Colored pencils, watercolors, and gouache? Highlighters and pens? Why not! This way, I gather information about new mediums, create color swatches, and reduce my apprehension about working on larger formats.

6. Developing a habit

Keeping a sketchbook has allowed me to develop consistency and gradually improve my skills. I try to draw every day or almost every day. Sometimes it's for 4 hours, and other times it's just 10 minutes before bedtime. Establishing this habit has accelerated my progress and helped me discover my own artistic style. Of course, it wasn't easy at first. I had a full-time job, so I could only draw in the evenings. I often had to give up other activities or meetings. Fortunately, I managed to build the habit, and now even a break of a few days doesn't dampen my enthusiasm.

7. Noticeable skill progress

Completed sketchbooks serve as a treasure trove of knowledge about your artistic development. Through trials and errors, you can build self-awareness – you'll learn about your strengths and decide where you want to focus your attention. For example, I noticed that I enjoy portraying people but struggle with drawing hands. So, I decided to draw 100 hands in a few days. I'm still not great at it, but I definitely have a better understanding of their form.

8. A place for play and relaxation

Not everyone needs to use a sketchbook for learning and development. For some, it can be a place for relaxation and escape from daily life. Furthermore, it can be a source of fun and an opportunity to exercise creativity. Here's an example of a playful activity from my sketchbook: Ask someone to draw random shapes, and then create something new out of them. :)

9. A form of meditation

Keeping a sketchbook allows you to cultivate mindfulness – focusing your mind on the present activity, thought, or object. It can bring a sense of calm and help quiet the racing thoughts. Many people even find drawing to have therapeutic value.

10. A complete work of art in itself.

It can have not only high aesthetic value but also contain a deeply personal part of the artist. Whether you enjoy painting landscapes, designing characters, cutting pages into various patterns, or trying a little bit of everything, every theme can be valuable. It's hard to find another form that encompasses so much within it, with all its beautiful flaws, accidents, and everyday struggles.

I hope this post will help you on your artistic journey, providing inspiration and motivation to simply enjoy the journey itself - embracing both its positive aspects and the moments of struggle. Have fun!


If you would like to learn more, I invite you to subscribe to my Patreon, where you can gain access to exclusive content. Additionally, you can check out my Domestika courses on Portrait Sketchbooking and Drawing Portraits with Colored Pencils. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for regular updates!


Happy doodling!



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