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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Sketchbook Research

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

I always find it exciting to discover artists. So when there is an opportunity to search, I do get lost in the world wide web for hours. Clicking and clicking so much that I find myself a million miles away from the original search. I love finding working artists today because 9 out of 10 times they will have social media. Not that I'm a huge fan of social media, I just really can't fault the fact it does bring people closer. Art is not unreachable when there is social media. You can learn so much more by what an artist posts daily, weekly or monthly. Usually they are active on social media, so not only do you see regular work being added, but often you can interact with them as well. They share their process far more openly which is exciting and inspiring!

An artist with a long career in comic art I had recently discovered during this research was Steve Rude, who shares one of his older sketchbooks in a video for YouTube.

The book he flips through brings such a variety in how he tackles his pages. On a whole there is familiarity within each page, it feels retro, diverse and a place for experiments. I like the mix of medium he uses through out, adding colour here and there or using a different pen to add notes in. This for me feels close to how I would like to work.

Another video I enjoyed watching was an interview with Tala Adani.

My thoughts when Tala flips through her books are based on the sort of book she uses and how she works in them. The paper is thin, and the pages are often filled with just one drawing, in fact a double page could be given to just one drawing on one page, the other is where the ink has soaked through. I wondered if perhaps Tala worked backwards in her books. Tala's sketchbooks look like a series of vague memory photos that she imagined but hadn't quite processed fully. They seem like maps to an instant idea she would later develop into a painting. Because page aren't full of different illustrations, an instead allow an idea to breath, I get a sense of urgency in the way Tala might work, flipping a page quickly to get down another vision, flipping again to jot down another. or it might be a slow process, and the white space is time spared for reflection per idea. Either way, it's a nice change.

The Trojan Horse was a Unicorn - YouTube

Whilst researching artist sketchbooks, I came across a YouTube channel called the The Trojan Horse. Within this channel, there is a "sketchbook" series where artists are interviewed whilst sharing their personal sketchbooks. They talk through their relations, their process and even demonstrate by adding a drawing in a "communal" sketchbook. So many incredible artists have taken part in this series, it's binge-worthy content that I'm so pleased to have discovered for this exercise!

Here are a few of my favourites!

I would love to develop my skills as a character designer, so being able to see an insight in to the works and mind of Carlos Grangel was awesome.

This interview just brought me so much joy! I was smiling all the way through, listening to Crash was inspiring. His work is truly incredible, and packs such a sense of humour that really bursts with personality. I loved seeing and hearing about his process. I also found it interesting how sketchbooks didn't come natural to him at first.

I wanted to include Scott Eaton's interview because I admired his choice to keep his books private. As this is a question in the exercise I hadn't given much thought about in the past, I found it interesting to hear why keeping them private was important to Scott.

I'm quite the fan of Japanese art in recent times. I love the style and I love the content. I feel as though I'm familiar with Yuko Shimizu for the Godzilla works she had created, and so found this interview particularly special. It's just so insightful and valuable seeing the process behind professional artists, and to see it from the artist themselves is magic.


I very much enjoyed browsing through Pat Perry's wonderful sketchbooks. There is life in every page, they feel dynamic, highly detailed and a mix between surreal and real. I feel such a strong sense of place when looking through the pages, almost as if I really can see the world through Pat Perry's eyes. The work feels engaging, it feels lively and nostalgic. I find the books work well for the topic of this exercise, the everyday, which I feel inspired to work in the same manor across the pages.

Because I was able to find the connection with the topic of everyday, I decided to channel Pat's sense of place by including a few surroundings of my own. Objects that I sit in front, views from my window etc. I also took to a little life study.


I loved the variety in Bryce Wymer's sketchbooks. I get graphic impressions with surrealism. The four pages I pulled out below show just how varied his work is and I really like how he is comfortable to jump from page to page.

Taking inspiration from the top left image of a man crouching down, I decided to create a piece where I would create angles in the body. I found it interesting how he had managed to fit the entire body across a double page, with all limbs filling a space to make them visible. If turning the above into a silhouette you will still be able to identify the figure and the position. My attempt didn't consider silhouette, but I wanted to fit the upper body into a double page spread like Bryce.

I've had a lot of fun researching artist sketchbooks, and although at this stage I tried to find current artists that are working today, I know there is a whole world of the classic artists I need to explore as well. I look forward to adding to this!




Steve Rude

Tala Madani

Carlos Grangel

Mark Crash McCreery

Scott Eaton

Yuko Shimizu


John Booth

Pat Perry

Helen Wells

Bryce Wymer

Matthew Filipkowski


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