Some useful advice for visual artists on keeping a daily sketchbook

It took me a long time to understand this, but the day-to-day job of the artist is not ‘making art’, it is filling sketchbooks.

As Austin Kleon says, “filling my sketchbook” is a perfectly legitimate answer to the question “what are you working on right now?”

The sketchbook is a…

Why making art is a cosmological miracle.

When I was researching my sci-fi show Parallax back in 2017, I spent a lot of time learning about xenology.

Xenologists think about biology, chemistry, physics and so on as they might relate to alien species, and my own thinking was that if…

I filled five whole sketchbooks in 2020 — and my drawing ability has improved significantly. I even drew my first comic!

This is down, in many ways, to changing how I use my sketchbook.

Before I begin, I should say I am not a trained artist, just an enthusiastic amateur…

A good idea feels nebulous at first.

In my experience, a good idea almost never appears fully formed.

It’s more like a vast gas cloud in space: a feeling here, a colour there, a quote, a couple of chords that float past your nostrils and evaporate. …

I have thought about this advice, from designer Frank Chimero, a lot over the last year: once through, cleanly.

It’s very simple: when you are beginning a new project, create it in a format that means you can complete the idea in a single sitting.

If you are developing a…

How Jason Lutes masters visual storytelling.

On my desk sits a framed page of storyboards from Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away.

Spin the frame around and on the other side is a print from Scott McCloud’s graphic novel The Sculptor.

James Clear’s book Atomic Habits is as good as everyone says it is.

With minimal self-help fluff, he presents a tangible and usable process for building good habits and getting rid of bad ones.

The big revelation for me was Clear’s distinction between goals and systems.

Our outcome-orientated society cares…

A simple straight line that will elevate your visual storytelling

One day, when I was storyboarding a complicated film for The New York Times, I realised something about how visual stories function.

I took out a pencil and some paper and drew a straight horizontal line, like this:

Then above the line, I wrote these words:

A non-exclusive list for filmmakers, graphic novelists and other sequential artists.

  1. The first ever screenplay was a list. Film, video, TV and comics are all sequential art: images arranged in a specific order across time or space. …

Adam Westbrook

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity.

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