A few years ago,
I became fascinated by the medieval inquiry of alchemy. It seemed a
perfect metaphor for the creative process—taking ordinary materials,
subjecting them to an intense process, and ending up with the pure gold
of a new thing.
So I sought out books and other materials about alchemy and soon was
mystified by the strangeness of it all: it was nothing if not esoteric
and opaque. But slowly the words and drawings (especially the drawings)
revealed themselves, and I began to appreciate the wisdom and occasional
silliness of the different approaches.
years, I’ve been privileged to view the private sketchbooks of
artists and designers. Their sketchbooks have always struck me with
the same wonderment as that first encounter with alchemy—an introduction
to a private, magical language intended for no broad audience but the
artist herself. Here is where the secrets of their creative work are
revealed. Like the alchemical drawings, the pages of sketchbooks have
a pure, aesthetic appeal, being beautiful objects in themselves. At
the same time, like alchemical treatises, they reveal the inner workings
of the creative process to those who would take the time to look and
see. A deeply personal, visual language is being nurtured here, a unique
vision coaxed into view.
and designer has her own process that will change over the course of
her career depending on her circumstances and her projects. The five
artists and designers who have generously agreed to reveal their sketchbook
struggles, and the resulting final pieces, all have specific ways of
using sketchbooks that work for them.