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Why Do Artists Keep Sketchbooks?

why do artists keep sketchbooks
An artist’s sketchbook is more than just a notebook meant for drawing. It is a junk drawer where they can store their ideas to sort out later.

Why do artists keep sketchbooks? It is a way to preserve most, if not all, the ideas they come up with throughout the day. It is a way for them to experiment with their ideas before they commit to them entirely.

Sketchbooks are also convenient for practicing and trying out new techniques and mediums. If you are a budding artist, it is essential that you have your sketchpad and you bring it with you all the time. This article will further discuss the importance of why you need a sketchbook, and also how you can maximize its use.

Top Reasons Why Artists Keep Sketchbooks

Although not required, artists should have a daily sketchbook habit. Many artists, even though they like to draw, find it hard to stick to sketching at least once a day. Some are having trouble with not knowing what to draw and most of them even ask why do artists keep sketchbooks.

To inspire you to sketch at least once a day, here are the most important reasons why you should:

It Helps Hone Your Skills

If you aspire to become a representational artist, as opposed to an abstract one, it is a good practice to always keep a sketchbook with you. Daily sketching will greatly help increase your hand-eye coordination and observational skills.

Daily sketching can also help improve your problem-solving skills. The reason is that it lets you figure out how to draw things that you are not used to. For instance, if you have trouble drawing the texture of tree bark, you can go to the park and copy the trees.

You Can Try New Materials

Sketchbooks are not just for pencils but you can also use different kinds of drawing materials. For instance, if you are interested in trying mixed media, you can try your hand at using ink and acrylic, ink and watercolors (if the paper is thick enough), and more.

Trying new materials on a sketchbook first is more economical than blindly going into it on canvas or expensive drawing paper. In addition, testing new art materials on a sketchpad is much better than using regular writing paper, which is usually quite thin.

Trying to use that kind of paper for watercolors will only result in tearing and immense bleeding of colors.

It Can Act Like a Visual Journal

Instead of just taking pictures of your new experiences or things that caught your attention, you should draw them on your sketchpad. Your brain will remember things differently when you draw them instead of just taking pictures.

You should get a smaller travel sketchpad that you can fit in your EDC bag. You can just pull it out whenever inspiration strikes.

In addition, if you are interested in urban sketching, bringing a sketchpad with you on your daily walks will help you find something to draw. This way, you won’t be able to use the excuse that you can’t think of anything to draw.

At the end of the day, you can review all the sketches you made that day and maybe even find inspiration for your new project.

It Can Help You Develop Ideas

You can use a sketchpad to figure out the elements of your art projects and refine them further. For instance, if you are planning on making a landscape painting, use a sketchpad to figure out the placement of the visual elements before putting paint on canvas.

Yes, Bob Ross said that you don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents, but even he plans out his paintings beforehand. This can also work when you are working on professional design elements.

For instance, if you are an architect, you can do a rough sketch of a structure, and then tweak the design elements as you see fit. This also applies if you are a graphic designer. You can sketch logo ideas whenever they come to you, and then refine them later.

It is Fun

Sketchbooks are not just for work even though this list seems to imply that it is. Although daily sketching will indeed help you hone your skills, test new ideas and materials, and act as a journal, the primary reason why you should do it is that it is fun.

Even though you are practicing your craft, sketching provides plenty of room for enjoyment. When you have fun while sketching your subjects, you will often “get in the zone” where you just lose yourself in your drawing.

On the other hand, if you are a beginner, there are many fun drawing activities that can help make your daily sketching practice a lot more enjoyable. For instance, take Pictionary cards and draw two, and then make a drawing bearing those two elements. This way, you don’t have to come up with a drawing idea yourself.

These are only some of the reasons why artists keep sketchbooks. Once you start using one, you will find that there are even more benefits that are left for you to discover.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

what size of sketchbook should i use

What kind of sketchbook is best?

Although there is no such thing as the best sketchbook (you will find that your preferences differ from others), for economical purposes, find the one that can handle different materials.

For instance, look for a sketchpad that you can use acrylics, watercolors, and inks on. Ensure that the paper won’t deform quite as much. In this case, get a pad that has 300 gsm paper.

What size of sketchbook should I use?

Ideally, you should have more than one sketchbook. There are regular sketchbooks that use 9” x 12” paper, which is the standard. However, there are also large ones that measure 14” x 17” and 24” x 36”.

I suggest that you keep as many of the different sizes as you can. I also advise that you keep a smaller, travel-size sketchbook (4” x 6” or 5” x 7”) that you bring with you all the time.

Are cheap sketchbooks okay to use?

If you are only beginning and usually only use pencils or pens to sketch, then yes, you can go for the cheap ones that you usually see in school supplies stores. However, if you will be using different materials, something more robust is in order.


Why do artists keep sketchbooks? There are many valid reasons why you should own a sketchbook and all of them will help you improve your skills. If you are a budding artist, it is highly recommended to keep at least one small sketchbook with you and try to sketch at least once a day.

It does not matter what kind of sketchbook you use at first as long as you have one then it is enough.

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