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Entries in Sketches (67)


Proj: Exhibition Moleskine Sketches (Pages 25-28)

It's hard to believe — my proj: exhibition self-imposed deadline of January 15th has arrived and passed. I have the final 4 pages of sketches to reveal, as this project draws to a close. I'd hoped to complete 30 pages in total, but fell just two pages short.

I'm still quite pleased with the completion of 28 pages! 30 pages of sketches was just an arbitrary number after all. In perspective, completion of 28 pages in under 2 months isn't bad, considering my busy schedule. Besides, it got me into the groove of sketching regularly, which I intend to continue.

If you weren't reading when I started this art project at the end of November, I was invited to submit a Moleskine pocket sketchbook to Patrick Ng's proj: exhibition art show, taking place this February in Hong Kong. I picked up a new sketchbook and set a goal of completing 30 pages before I had to mail it off. The book is due to Patrick by January 30th, so it goes into the mail tomorrow at lunchtime. :-)

So, here are the final 4 pages of the sketchbook (click to see larger versions):

Proj: Exhibition Pages 25-26

Page 25: Okay, okay, I drew another coffee-oriented spread! It was just so perfect that I couldn't pass up this sketching opportunity. Page 25 features a funkly Italian moka pot I've found at a local coffee house (Stone Creek). It's quite tiny in fact, just large enough to create a single shot of stovetop espresso. Being intrigued by moka pot operation, I added a small operational diagram to the sketch.

Page 26: This final coffee sketch was made on Saturday at Cranky Al's bakery. I've always admired the hand-made opn/closed sign in the window, so I made it the focal point of the sketch. To round out the drawing, I added a hand-made soy candle and Fair Exchange logo as they caught my eye.

Proj: Exhibition Pages 27-28

Page 27 & 28: The final spread in the book features my analog and digital tools. I was inspired to draw this because of Jeremy Wagstaff's article from Friday, covering paper journals and digital lives. I thought it'd be fun to catalog the tools used to create my drawings and blogging, especially in light of their connectedness.

And so ends this phase of the proj: exhibition sketchbook. Once Patrick has shown the book at his store and eventually ships it back, I will continue my sketches and complete it, posting the results here on the weblog.

Meantime, I've dusted off my original Moleskine pocket sketchbook and will post the drawings I make there on the weblog from time to time, since I'm now hooked on these sketchtoons. Thank you Patrick for inspiring me to make this project happen — it's been a blast!

I hope you've enjoyed all of the sketches. To my readers, thanks for comments and suggestions during the process. You guys made this a much fuller experience.


WSJ Moleskine Article: More Linkage

It seems Jeremy Wagstaff's article on the Moleskine has some legs, having been picked up and mentioned in various places on the web. For those interested and my own records, I've decided to record the links I've found related to this column.

Boing Boing: WSJ on the joy of moleskines

Moleskinerie: Jeremy Wagstaff on Moleskine

Loose Wire: Part I (Marc Orchant's remaindered text)

Loose Wire: Part III (Other Moleskine links)

Loose Wire: Part IV (Merlin Mann's remaindered text)

43 Folders: Merlin Mann's Comments

The Office Weblog: Moleskine review in WSJ and Loose Wire

jkOnTheRun: Loose Wire interviews Marc Orchant

I'll add more here as I find them.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wall Street Journal Mention in Jeremy Wagstaff's Loose Wire

On Wednesday morning January 5th, I received an email from Dow Jones columnist Jeremy Wagstaff. Jeremy writes the Loose Wire column for The Wall Street Journal Online ( and The Asian Wall Street Journal.

In his web searches for Moleskine references, Jeremy came across my weblog and wrote to ask for an email interview for an upcoming article. The article was to be on paper vs digital notebooks — more precisely how different people fit paper notebooks into their digital lives.

As a Moleskine and Miquelrius fan, I was intrigued. I spent some time replying to Jeremy's questions over my lunch break and sent them off, wondering if I might be fortunate enough to appear in the Wall Street Journal.

A week passed. This evening, Jeremy sent an IM to me, to confirm that a portion of my interview would be appearing in his Loose Wire column in the January 14th edition of both The Wall Street Journal Online ( and The Asian Wall Street Journal.

High fives! Happy dance! Woooooohoo! :-)

The only downside: Jeremy wasn't able to make use of my entire interview (which I admit was quite long and detailed). However, Jeremy is also a blogger, and has posted the entire interview on his site.

As a service to my readers, I've decided to post the entire interview here as well. Please feel free to add your comments.

The Moleskine Report, Part II
Continuing to add material that I could not include, or could not include much of, in my, piece (which comes out today), here's the second emailed reply that I thought might interest readers. It's from Mike Rohde, a graphic and web designer, working for the international engineering and web services firm MakaluMedia, and I include his reply in its entirety because it's very interesting:

I work remotely from home with colleagues in Germany, Spain, France and Ireland, helping design and building web applications, web sites for small & medium-sized firms and corporate identity work.

I manage projects with my colleagues and clients via email, IM chat, voice over IP, phone and web, from my home office. So as you can see I work pretty digitally during the day.

Personally I am quite digitally oriented as well, writing a weblog, reading many weblogs, using email, chat and VOIP with international friends. Specifically, I have text and VOIP chats with one friend living in the UK on a weekly basis via Apple iChat.

I was introduced to PCs and technology as a teen, when my dad explored his interest in computers. I now see this was critical to the way I work now, as my experimentation and use of computers then, reduced the fear of technology very early, and gave me the sense that I could bend technology to my needs.

My higher education was focused on graphic design. Following graduation, I spent 9 years as a print designer and system manager for a design studio, moving into web design in the late 90s. In 1998 I began working with MakaluMedia, remotely from my home office.

As you know I have an interest in sketching with Moleskines; I also use a Miquelrius sketchbook for generating ideas and layouts for my business activities, like design ideas, logo concepts and so on.

However, after some thought, I chose to use a digital approach for recording my business diary, which I have found works quite well. Further, I enjoy using paper diaries to record personal thoughts and observations, mainly because I enjoy the tactile feel of paper and pen.

So, I enjoy both digital and analog means of recording thoughts, depending upon the use and context. Hopefully that provides you with a good starting point about me and my approach. :-)

Here are my answers to the questions you have posed:

What do you use, exactly, in digital and paper terms?
How do you use them?

1. Business Diary: I keep a business journal as a plain text document on my Mac Powerbook. There I record MakaluMedia related thoughts, web links and comments of clients and colleagues. I separate entries by date and archive each month's diary to dated plain text files (Makalu-Diary-2004-12.txt). The current month's diary is synchronized to my palmOne Tungsten E PDA via DataViz DocumentsToGo.

2. Project Specific Notes: These kept in DayLite, a networked Mac OS X business application very much like ACT! for PC. Notes relative to projects recorded in my business diary and emails are copied into DayLite as notes for access by myself and my MakaluMedia colleagues.

3. Business & Personal Links: I store interesting business and personal web bookmarks at my account and also in the Safari browser on my Mac.

4. Personal Blog: This is my public forum for thoughts, ideas, reflections, designs, sketches and whatever else seems pertinent to my personal and business life. I try to be encouraging, inspiring, humorous, serious here, but the entries are definitely for public consumption. I do share personal details but have an internal gut feel for where the line ought to be.

Because I built a reputation writing the Palm Tipsheet for many years (it was sold in '03), many of my longstanding blog readers are Palm users who came from that newsletter. I do like to discuss mobile tech, but intentionally explore other topics, because I think life is broader than technology.

5. Personal Notes & Sketches: I also occasionally write notes (Memo Pad) or make digital sketches (Note Pad) with my palmOne Tungsten E, which are then synchronized to my Mac Powerbook.

Paper (Analog):
1. Business Concepts & Sketches: Stored in my Miquelrius gridded notebook. This is the place were I start ideas going, work out concepts (visual or textual) and sketch layouts for websites or logos. Often my sketches will be scanned and presented to clients and colleagues to show concepts or direction before I flesh out ideas on the computer.

2. Personal Sketches: Small Moleskine sketchbook for sketching (e.g. proj: exhibition sketchtoons), and a small Moleskine gridded notebook for ideas and concepts I come up with (e.g. ideas for home or personal projects, dream tech concepts, etc.).

3. Personal Diary: Small Italian-made notebook for recording thoughts of the day, reflections and goals. Usually I enter thoughts at night in bed, or at the café over coffee in this diary. Entries are not regular (daily) but rather entered when I have the need or urge to get something down.

(Note: I can provide scans from my paper sources if they are helpful)

Why still use paper?
Refuge & Escape from the Digital World. Paper is a refuge from my very digital lifestyle. I spend quite a bit of time on my Mac (at work and personally), so time with a nice pen, rich black ink or smooth pencil lead on crisp paper, are very much an escape from bits and pixels.

Immediacy. The immediacy of paper is very gratifying. I can knock out several concept sketches in the time it might take to fiddle around with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop on just one tight drawing. Further, immediacy and looseness of ink or pencil on paper lets me explore with more latitude. I find that once I move to the computer, my ideas naturally tighten up and loose their loose qualities.

No batteries required. I love that my sketchbooks require no battery or wall connection. If the power goes dead, I can still work with my sketchbook and pen. The simplicity of a book and pen keeps me from getting hung up on technical issues as often pop up carrying a laptop and peripherals to support it, or choosing which café has WiFi so I can remain connected.

Portability. When I need to be creative, I just grab my sketchbook and head for a local café or library -- the ideas just seem to flow. I also like that a sketchbook can be kept in a pocket at all times, without regard to cold or heat, or location. Sketchbooks can also take a beating better than techy gadgets. :-)

Any particular Eureka moment on using paper?
Probably about a year ago I started realizing that I was using sketches less that I had in the past for my business design work at MakaluMedia. I decided to focus on making sketching an integrated part of my work. Since integrating sketching I've noticed my creativity has improved greatly.

Are you alone, or does everyone you know follow the same practice?
As I work alone from my home office, I can only comment on my own methods directly, though the posts I have made related to use of paper sketchbooks and diaries have brought interesting comments from other digital folks who also integrate paper into their lives. Many are Moleskine fans like me, others feel that paper offers them options not easily available digitally.

Do you get odd looks for using paper?
Quite to the contrary — people who see my business or personal sketchbooks are always interested in having a look at them, and comment how they wish they could draw. I encourage them to give it a try, because a paper sketchbook or journal are just tools to get your mind working creatively.

Do you think paper and digital might merge, a la Logitech's io Pen, or is that the wrong way of looking at things?
I think there is an overlap. I have not used a Wacom tablet for some time, but am actually considering one now, to see what options it might offer me on the digital side of things. I do think there is a wide open market for digital tools which work in conjunction with analog sketching and notes, such as the IO pen. I would love to try the IO pen as well.

Thanks, Mike, for such a long and interesting answer.

Thank you Jeremy for the opportunity! :-)

So, if you happen to subscribe to or are have access to the Asian Wall Street Journal, have a look for Loose Wire by Jeremy Wagstaff. I'd love to hear about sightings and maybe see about having a copy of the paper shipped here.


Proj: Exhibition Moleskine Sketches (Pages 21-24)

The snow came last night, carpeting everything in sight with a thick blanket of white fluff. When I left for my weekly walk to the cafe, I'd have never guessed snow would move me to complete 4 more pages in the proj: exhibition sketchbook. What a nice surprise.

Here are 2 more snow-induced spreads (click to see larger versions):

Proj: Exhibition Pages 21-22

Page 21 & 22: This spread was inspired by two things: the mini snowplow machine clearing the cafe parking lot, and Snow Patrol's Final Straw playing on my Tungsten E. As I watched the little tractor plowing happily, I had the urge to capture the moment. Fortunately my proj: exhibition Moleskine sketchbook was packed in my Cafe bag. Once I had the tractor on the page, the title came to me, along with my notes. (Time: about 20 min)

This sketch was made with my new Pilot Dr. Grip Gel pen (G2 0.7 cartridge), which I like very much. I've become accustomed to the feel of 0.5 tips, so the 0.7 seems a little clunky. Who would have thought 0.2mm would make much difference? Doggone picky artists! :-)

Proj: Exhibition Pages 23-24

Page 23 & 24: On the next spread, I turned inward for subject matter. The first item down on the page were the Burr Grinder Robots, as they caught my eye as unusual shapes. This first item was followed buy Serious Hardware, That's It?! (Gulp), May I help Caffeinate You, Please?, Creamer Droids and Nutmeg Shaker.

It's quite odd for me to begin the page in the upper right corner, and I have no good reason for working right to left. All I can say is, when sketches start flowing, I try to roll wherever they take me. (Time: about 20 min)

24 Pages Done, 6 to Go!
I'm feeling very good about completing 30 pages by January 15th. One or two more good sessions, and I'll be good to go by the weekend.

I hope you've enjoyed the sketches. Please feel free to leave comments. :-)


Proj: Exhibition Moleskine Sketches (Pages 19-20)

Whoopie! This morning at Cranky Al's Donut Shop, I was fortunate to squeeze in two more pages in the proj: exhibition sketchbook before the clock strikes midnight. Here are the 2 new pages (click images to see larger versions):

Proj: Exhibition Pages 19-20

Page 19: This is a sketch of my son Nathan, as he enjoys a double-chocolate donut with red, white and green sprinkles. He's at a colorfully painted small kid-sized table (very popular with the kids at cranky Al's). Surprisingly, Nathan sat still long enough for me to sketch his face and body before bouncing around the place on a sprinkle-induced sugar high.

Page 20: I always get a good laugh from this sign at Cranky Al's. It sits quietly on top of the donut counter, providing newcomers with a small dose of Cranky Al's brand of humor. This is the kind of sign you'd never, ever see at a Starbucks!

Sketchtoon Status: 2004

Having achieved 20 pages of sketchtoons already, I'm feeling very good about reaching my goal of 30 by January 15th. I'm finding that it's more a matter of sketching something interesting the moment the idea enters my mind. I must never let a great opportunity pass. Once ink is on a blank page, I'm committed to finishing, which happens pretty quickly.

Today, this idea reminded me of "The Decisive Moment", Henri Cartier Bresson's attitude toward photography. Cartier-Bresson always felt there were moments which appear and disappear in seconds, which a photographer (or artist) must be ready to capture.

Here is a quote from the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation website, explaining his approach to photography and the Decisive Moment:

For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to “give a meaning” to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.

To take a photograph is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in a face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.

To take a photograph means to recognize – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second– both the fact itself and the rigorous organisation of visually perceived forms that give it meaning.

It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.

As a fan of Cartier-Bresson's wonderful photography and now feeling the rush of capturing moments in sketches, I can more fully appreciate his point. To see Cartier-Bresson's work, visit Photology's Cartier-Bresson Gallery, The Washington Post Portrait Gallery Exhibit or The Peter Fetterman Gallery.

Until 2005...