A tattooer's guide to keeping a sketchbook, blog cover by female floral tattoo artist Lu Loram Martin, in Toronto, Canada.

A Tattooer's Guide to Keeping A Sketchbook

Sketchbook of flowers by female tattoo artist Lu Loram Martin in Toronto, Canada.

Here’s my theory to why everyone should start keeping a sketchbook...

Side note before we start- this is something I wrote for my younger self, so circulates around learning to draw, but I think most of this can be applied to any creative outlet. Whether you draw, or paint, or write, or create recipes, or choreography, or anything that requires thinking, having a safe place to put down your thoughts is amazing. You may just need to change ‘sketchbook’ to 'notebook' and ‘draw’ to ‘make notes'. And with that in mind, here are my thoughts...

⋄ When you first start out you feel like everything you make is awful, so it can be easier to draw on something that feels less permanent, like printer paper. But I really encourage you to keep a sketchbook.

⋄ Making crappy work in your sketchbook is the only way you get over the idea of a sketchbook being precious. You do not have to show this to anyone. It’s for you.

⋄ Sketchbooks are supposed to be BAD. I mean seriously teeeerrible. If your sketchbook looks perfect you’re doing it wrong (imo). You might accidently make a couple of cool things in there, but the majority of it will be baaaaad. And that's a good thing. This is your safe space to make bad art. 

⋄ Once you get over that idea of the ‘perfect’ sketchbook you will be able to get more creative and ambitious. Your sketchbook will be a place you can play, that’s when it starts becoming fun.

⋄ Now you've started making bad art, you need to take your sketchbook EVERYWHERE with you. Seriously. Get lots of different size sketchbooks, make sure one fits in your pocket.

⋄ Having a sketchbook with you at all times means you can quickly scrawl down any ideas you randomly get. It’s different to writing them in your phone, trust me (and way less distracting). When you’re in bed, watching tv, taking a bath, write those those ideas down. Then, when you’re stuck and can’t think of what to draw next, you can flip through and see if any of your notes sparks something.

⋄ Next comes drawing in public. Scary I know, but start pulling out your sketchbook in quiet places instead of your phone (sat in the park, in a quiet cafe, in the library - post lockdown obvs).

⋄ Once you start drawing in quieter places you will learn that basically nobody cares what you are doing, and you will start drawing in busier places (waiting for a friend, waiting for your bubble tea order, waiting for the bus, in galleries, in museums, everywhere). 

⋄ What this gives you is TIME! That precious, precious thing we all want more of. Finding time to practice is hard, and the only way you’ll get better are drawing is by literally spending time drawing. So now you can draw everywhere, all the time.

⋄ Also once you’re comfortable drawing with other people around you, going to things that will help you improve become waaaay less scary, like drawing clubs, art lessons, workshops, figure drawing sessions etc.

⋄ When you finish your sketchbook, do NOT throw it away. Even if you think it’s the worst thing that’s ever existed, just find a dark corner of a cupboard you never visit, and shove it in there.

⋄ When you finish your next sketchbook, take a look at the first one and marvel at how much you’ve improved. It’s a lovely feeling. And maybe some of your old ideas will inspire something new.

Now start the next one.

Skull sketches in notebook by floral tattoo artist Lu Loram Martin, in Toronto, Canada.

Some suggestions:

  • Hardback sketchbooks are best for drawing out and about. You have something to lean on.
  • Look for sketchbooks that open flat. Holding down one page when you’re trying to draw is a nightmare.
  • Think about practicality. I keep several different sized sketchbooks but the ones I use most fit inside my pocket or bag. Large sketchbooks are great for at home, but difficult to take around with you.
  • Don’t spend too much money. I love Moleskine ‘art’ sketchbooks because they open really nicely and have decent weight paper, but they are pricey, and that can affect how ‘free’ you feel in a sketchbook. Over time I’ve gotten used to drawing ‘bad’ things in these sketchbooks, but I still think I am most creative when I’m using a real cheapo sketchbook.
Flower sketches in notebook by female tattoo artist Lu Loram Martin in Toronto, Canada.

❧ Do you already keep a sketchbook or notebook? I'd love to know what you use yours for! ☙

If you want to see the tattoos I've been working on check out my instagram for the newest and latest! 

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As always, thank-you for being interested in what I do! ❤



Blog post edited by Sabrina

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