IT STARTED as a video test. At Brian Artka'a 5th Ward Milwaukee office on a cold April Friday, we spent a day setting up and shooting video of me talking and sketchnoting. The goal was to test the lighting and the space we wanted to use for the Sketchnote Handbook video, for the Peachpit team.
When I saw the final edit from Brian yesterday, I realized he had created much more than a test video — he'd captured a glimpse into the passion I have for design and sketchnoting in an amazing short film:
I got emotional watching the video for the first time. I'm amazed at how well Brian captures and tells stories with camera angles, focus, lighting, pacing and music. I'm honored to be one of his subjects and am excited to have him shooting the book video with me.
While this video is artistic and focused on me and sketchnoting in a broad sense, the video companion to The Sketchnote Handbook will be much more straightforward, as the goal of the video will be teaching the techniques of sketchnoting. I can't wait to see how the video segments turn out.
The Cover Design Process
Oddly enough, even though I'm still writing the book itself, Peachpit needed the cover to be designed and finalized earlier, so they can begin promoting the book and the video with booksellers.
Over the years, I've found designing anything for myself challenging — I'm often never satisfied with the work I do on my own projects. The cover design was no different and was a challenge to work through.
Sketching went well, helping narrow the choice down to a simple, bold cover design suggesting the cover of a notebook covered in stickers:
As I began creating mockups, the cover wasn't working and I couldn't put my finger on why. It felt stiff, and not my style — even though I'd made it.
Fortunately, I have created a loose book advisory board of friends who provide good, objective feedback as I'm journeying through this book project.
One advisor is Stefan Bucher, designer and creator of The Daily Monster and author of the book 344 Questions. Stefan, being wonderfully blunt, told me to amp it up! Go bold! Make the cover feel like strong sketchnotes I'm known for.
With 3 days left before final art was due, starting over wasn't appealing. But, what I had created clearly wasn't going to cut it. I'm glad I took Stefan's challenge to heart and began anew. Starting over forced me to simplify and clarify the design, resulting in a cover I really love:
Here's a color laser mockup, taped to a copy of Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing With Web Standards, so I could get a feel for how it might look:
I'm very pleased with the end result and now see how important starting over was in the overall process. I must remain flexible as I move forward and face challenges while writing this book.
Pen Addict Podcast: Sketchnoting
I had a great time sharing how sketchnoting came to be, the REWORK, The $100 Startup and Little Book of Talent illustration work resulting from it, the creation of Sketchnote Army and The Sketchnote Handbook.
Back to Writing
While it was fun to design my cover, see the Sketchnoter video go live and appear on The Pen Addict podcast, I'm constantly reminded of how much work has yet to be done on the book's writing and illustration.
Now it's time to dive in deep — finalize and ink chapter 1 and begin synthesizing research into a narrative for chapter 2: Why Sketchnote. There is much to do in planning the video: outlining, scripting and shooting video.
Tough work lies ahead, but I'm excited to get on with it.