If you are just starting out in Surface pattern design or have been around for a while you might have realized (drumroll, please)

Patterns are all around us!

Once this realization hits you, your mind becomes like a sponge, absorbing as much inspiration, information from the world around you.

What better way then, to draw or jot down all these new-found images, than in a sketchbook, where you can squeeze every last drop of juicy ideas, new colour combinations and inspiration that floods through you.

Here’s how you can use your sketchbook to be a better designer…

Write, draw, doodle, scrawl, stick, paint in your sketchbook, anything goes! With one exception…perfection needs to be kicked out the door.

The idea behind a sketchbook is not to make pretty or perfect drawings, rather to allow your creative juices to flow. This can sometimes result in pieces and parts of things that aren’t finished or really fit together.

sketches by Jimena GarciaYou might call them ugly; I know I still do from time to time.

I try to remind myself that thousands of so-called “ugly” drawings need to come out, before any good ones. So, I get the ugly ones out as fast as I can! I draw, draw and draw.

Other times you come up with ideas that are like golden nuggets, seamlessly fitting into your pattern creations.

Warning! Never, ever throw ripped or unfinished pieces away; you don’t know when these unassuming, even disliked drawings are the stepping-stones for an extraordinary and memorable pattern.

sketchIf you are still not convinced as to why keeping a sketchbook is an important habit to attain, here are five more reasons that hopefully will get the ball rolling for you.

I can’t remember where I heard it first but it takes a person 10,000 hours before they become an expert at something.

What to carry?

Sketchbooks come in all shapes and sizes, just like us humans so you have to experiment and see which one is a best fit for you. I keep three different sized sketchbooks.

One to always carry around in my purse or pocket, another notebook sized that I keep in my art space and a larger one for expanding my mark making.

When I’m feeling precious about my marks I turn to A4 white print paper or any other piece of paper laying about and I just draw to my heart’s content.

To make drawing a daily practice you need to carry your equipment where ever you go. Your tools need to be packed in something small and portable and they will need to fit in a bag or be easy to grab and go.

I use a plastic snap locked bag or my pencil case. Here I keep the following-

I have just bought myself a portable Sakura watercolour set, small enough to fit in my pencil case.

Also, remember to take your smartphone and take plenty of photos for reference or objects that you think would be great inspiration for a colour scheme or pattern.

Whatever you decide to carry with you, please be realistic, because the goal is to be consistent in adding or doing work in your sketchbook.

 What to draw?

I mentioned earlier, that there is plenty of inspiration around us, as a result plenty of things to draw. But, some days it can be a hard slog to even find one idea. It could be because you might not see what’s around you as exciting subject matter.

Be it exciting or not, a drawing you must do. So, why not help yourself and make a list of things to draw.

Below is one I’ve started with, don’t be afraid to add to it and maybe keep the list together with your tools.

People – quick poses, different body parts (eyes, hands, feet etc.), self- portraits (sit in front a mirror), go to your local café and draw the people around you.

Flora – flowers in a garden, plants, vases with flowers, potted plants, trees with flowers, cacti.

Household items – TV’s, Chairs, tables, kettle, pot’s and pan’s, tea-cups, plates, bottles, vases, cutlery.

Animals – birds, bugs, cats, dogs, chickens, look in dictionaries and see what other animals you can find, horses, spend a day at the zoo drawing animals that interest you.

Your neighbourhood – shops, houses, monuments, streets, signs, fountains, letterboxes

What to do to stay interested in your sketchbook?

-Give yourself challenges (either daily, monthly or yearly)

Challenge1 – your daily workout! Draw at least 15 minutes a day. These can be anything from lots of 2 min sketches, random drawings or drawing a still life.

Challenge2 – see how fast you can fill up your sketchbook, aim for one sketchbook in 30 days.

-Bear in mind that there is a remarkable community of surface pattern designers all over the world who connect by sharing their work online (Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter); you’ll for sure find inspiration in their work and vice versa.

It’s easy to feel lost and on your own so why not join a social network like Instagram where you can share your work and get feedback.

I was certainly hesitant before joining Instagram but so far I have only found positive and like-minded people.

Sketchbooks are supposed to be messy and fun.

In your sketchbook/s, you are exploring all the ideas and thoughts that run through you. When this happens something magical begins!

Once you get into the habit of keeping some kind of sketchbook, your thinking (and learning) develop in new and inspiring ways.

Certainly, a lead up to creating wonderful patterns.

Please, take note that

quote "life is unexpected so why not begin todayI hope this post helps inspire you to carry around a sketchbook and start a daily creative work out.

Have an awesome and creative week.