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Ideas and activities for things you can include in your sketchbook 

Why use a sketchbook?

A sketchbook is an excellent way to record ideas you have seen that might be useful for the future. It is also a great informal way of experimenting with ideas. 

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When you run out of ideas on a project flicking through your sketchbook is a great way of getting inspiration. It also reminds you of ideas you had that you weren’t sure how to use at the time. 

If you think you might want to go on to study textiles at college or uni keeping a sketchbook is a good habit to get into. Most college’s and unis will expect you to keep a sketchbook as part of the course. Many will also require a sketchbook as part of the interview process. 

What type of sketchbook should I keep?

It doesn’t matter if you buy a sketchbook or make one. It also doesn’t matter what size you choose. An A4 sketchbook is a good size as the page size gives you lots of space to play with and the size doesn’t make it too unwieldy to store. 

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An A5 sketchbook can be easier to carry and it is a less daunting page size to fill, especially if you haven’t kept a sketchbook before. You might, however, find the page size too small for some things you want to do. 

A sketchbook smaller than A5 is useful to carry around all the time for notes and quick sketches but it isn’t really suited to use as a formal sketchbook.

Larger sketchbook sizes, including A3, should be considered carefully before being used. The page size can be quite daunting to fill and the size makes it harder to store and carry around. This larger size is useful, however, if you like working on a larger scale. 

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Bought sketchbooks can be bound together using different methods. Spiral binding can be useful if you include lots of materials and layers in your sketchbook, as the binding helps the pages sit apart. It can also be easier to remove a page if you need to. If you are making your own sketchbook you will need to consider how you will hold your pages together, or if they will be left loose but stored in some sort of envelope file. 

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Sketchbooks can have hard and soft covers. As with the size, consider what you want to use the sketchbook for before making your choice. A hard cover offers protection, but it does make it heavier to carry. Whatever type of cover you choose personalising the cover is important, both to identify it, but also to make a statement that will make the reader want to look at it, especially in an interview situation. 

What about electronic sketchbooks?

Electronic sketchbooks are easy to set up e.g. files of photos, scanned images, original electronic files etc. Social media such as Pinterest are also useful for this. If you set up an electronic sketchbook it is also wise to still keep a traditional version, especially for interviews, where they are still seen as a method of showcasing your skills. 

Types of media to use with sketchbooks

You can use any media you like to create work in your sketchbook e.g. pens, pencils, paints, chalks, charcoal & other materials of your choice. You can also include cuttings, collage type work, and materials. In fact you can use anything that communicates your ideas and inspiration. It is a good idea to use a variety of different mediums, partly to show your willingness to do so, but also to help you discover the ones you like best. Don’t forget to use electronic tools for drawing and experimenting with as well as more traditional ones. 

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What do I put in my sketchbook?

Anything and everything! There are no limits to what you can put in your sketchbook. You might have a theme but if not just use your sketchbook to record anything that is of interest and which inspires you. Even if you are doing a fashion based course you don’t have to focus on just fashion; think about colour, texture, pattern, techniques, materials, sources of inspiration in everyday objects, as well as in more traditional sources such as art. It is also a good idea to visit places that might inspire you e.g. galleries, museums, shops, university shows.

Here are some ideas and activities for things you can include in your sketchbook

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Look at this video as well as this one showing sketchbooks created by textiles students. 

Sketchbooks & development work by degree students at Nottingham Trent Uni

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