Notebooks and Sketchbooks.
We use them to collect our thoughts, flesh out concepts, make lists, OR collect dust. From a young age, I’ve had a troubled relationship with notebooks and sketchbooks. I would receive beautiful, high-quality and often expensive notebooks as gifts from my caregivers as they believed burgeoning artists required them. They weren’t wrong; however, they became so sacred that I was never able to deface their pages with my mediocre sketches and average (at best ) ideas.
By making them precious objects I was limiting their potential influence on my development as an artist and maker. So, as I would stare guiltily at the stack of empty notebooks on my bookshelf, I would scratch out my ideas and flesh out sketches on random bits of paper which became strew across my room, eventually occupying every vacant parcel of hardwood floor real estate. In a futile attempt to organize the chaos, I started making piles of paper sorted by theme or by project. Eventually, I would stuff those piles into 3-ring binders, blissfully ignoring how beneficial using those sacred journals would be.
This went on for years until I went off to art school and was forced to use a sketchbook. Upon receiving the black hard covered 8.5'' x 11'' sketchbook, I noticed that my peers immediately cracked the spines of theirs and began sketching. I gingerly opened mine and wrote my name on the inside of the cover. This was the only luxury I permitted myself regarding notebooks. My professor weaved in and out of my peers, nodding silently in approval at their dancing pencils, but when she was finally close enough to peer over my shoulder, she exclaimed in irritation that inspiration is something you work towards and never wait around for. So, I started to deface my sketchbook. It took months before pages filled with sketches remained in the sketchbook, as I would tear them out to pretend that the sketchbook was unadulterated.
Soon after, my system became to use the sketchbook as a type of folder for the transport of other sketches on loose leaf pages. This worked because of all the sketchbook pages I had torn out prior. Eventually, my sketchbooks were so abused and improperly used that using them as intended didn’t make me feel like such an iconoclast.
One thing that I retained from my sketchbook struggles was how much I loved being able to grab any piece of 8.5'' x 11'' paper, draft ideas or flesh them out completely, then fold it up and put it in my back pocket. This enabled me to pull it out whenever I was struck with a solution or new idea.
This disposable notebook continued to evolve as the years progressed and eventually, I found a solution that worked for my current practice. When recently asked by a student, who was also having sketchbooks struggles, how I documented ideas efficiently without having to carry around a notebook (even one as portable as a Field Notes ) I pulled out my 16-Page Disposable Notebook out of my back pocket and my Ultra Fine Sharpie EDC pen out of my front pocket.
Quick and simple 'able but it just might change your quotidian practice !
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- 8.5’’ x 11’’ sheet of paper (colour and weight are a personal preference thing )
- Bone Folder
Step 2: First Fold
On a flat surface (a table is perfect for this ) start by lining up the two 8.5’’ edges of the page, once aligned, use your middle finger and thumb to hold down the aligned corners firmly. Then, begin to crease the opposite end of the page (curled over part ) starting in the middle and working the crease outwards. This will result in the first fold of the page. Run either, the back of your finger nail, the barrel of a pen, or a bone folder over the fold to make it as crisp as possible. This makes subsequent folds easier.
Step 3: Second Fold
Next, turn the folded page so that its newly folded edge is the furthest away from you and repeat the folding process, halving the page a second time. Be sure to make that fold line crisp!
Step 4: Third Fold and Final Fold
Lastly, making sure a second time that the folded edge is the edge furthest from you, fold the page in half for a third time and crisp up the fold. A note on this last fold, depending on the weight of paper chosen, this fold might be a bit more difficult than the rest, I suggest using the barrel of a pen in lieu of your fingernail to flatten and crisp up the fold. I’ve also included some notebook examples that indicate the fold lines to get you started if you're a visual learner!
Congratulations! You have just finished your first 16-Page Disposable Notebook !
Step 5: Making It Apart of Your EDC
Putting it in the back or front pocket of your pants OR the front pocket of your shirt every day is a good start for using it efficaciously. Having your preferred writing instrument on your person is also essential; personally I use my Ultra Fine Sharpie EDC pen. Other habits that have become common practice are numbering the bottoms of the pages and using different coloured sheets of paper to categorize the notebooks. In the example that I’ve included, there are some suggestions on how to potentially use the notebook sections. The suggestions are based on how I currently use them. All of the sections or pages of the notebook are quickly accessible by simply flipping the folds onto themselves (see visual demonstrations ). If this notebook becomes apart of your EDC, you might find yourself obsessively folding every loose piece of 8.5’’ x 11’’ in your immediate vicinity…
Word of Warning: The 16-Page Disposable Notebook became so apart of my EDC that I often forget that it’s in the back pocket of my jeans when I go to wash them. This results in tiny bits of paper stuck to every other article of clothing in the washing machine…moral of the story, simply don’t wash your pants.