My sketchbooks are my journals. My journals are my sketchbooks.
Stillman & Birn Alpha Hardbound. No list of great sketchbooks is complete without mentioning S&B. They make the finest sketchbooks with the finest paper, bar none. My S&B sketchbooks have become treasured items. I can’t wait for my favorite store to carry them.
HandBook Travelogue Series. The unpretentious rough cotton duck cover houses a very well made sketchbook with a sturdy binding and lovely cream paper with a pronounced tooth. It’s capable of accepting light washes and loads of abuse from pencils. It’s got a sturdy plastic pocket in the back and a terrific elastic closure. A simply awesome sketchbook/journal even if you don’t travel.
BanditApple Carnet. I mention these twice. Though they market themselves as a notebook their unlined paper is very tough and does well with light watercolor washes, brush pens, pencils, and multiple layers of ink. A workhorse sketchbook that isn’t meant to be.
My own handmade sketchbooks. I learned to make books because I couldn’t find a sketchbook I liked. Now I can fill a book with the paper I like and fill it full of my scribbles. I can make it as expensive as I’d like or as cheap.
Picadilly Blank Journals from B&N. Yup. Those $5 sketchbooks with the pulpiest crappiest paper. I love ’em for everything they they aren’t. First, they cost $5. It’s nothing. The paper is awful so you have to use pencil or ball point or gel ink. You can’t get fancy and forget watercolors they aren’t going to work. You get these to work on your drawing. You fill it. Set it aside, grab another, fill it, grab another, fill it. Do that over and over again for a few months. There is nothing intimidating about these books. Skip a latte or two, get one of these sketchbooks and a pack of USA Gold pencils and freaking draw.