Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Sketchbook Project

The Brooklyn Art Library is a collection of 41,000 sketchbooks from over 130 countries. The library has the collection on shelves, but it's also digitally cross-referenced and available for free for the public to browse.

They have launched a project to encourage the creation and dissemination of sketchbooks. Participants order standard-sized blank sketchbooks and fill them up. The project is funded by a payment from the creator when they buy the sketchbook or pay an extra fee to have it digitized.

SANDWICHES By: Emily Pelka
The "sketches" can be anything: doodles, observational studies, photomontages, or imaginative works. The artist assigns keywords and search terms so that the content can be discovered online. You can visit the website and search by keyword or theme.

Like the internet itself, the Sketchbook Project appears to be uncurated and unfiltered, with no gatekeeper. That can be either attractive to you or not, depending on your point of view. Part of the appeal to people who visit the collection is the fun of randomly encountering someone else's point of view.

All the books are displayed on the shelves and available for browsing, and some are even brought around the neighborhood by bookmobile.
Sketchbook Project


Jason Das said...

I suggest any interested artists (or potential supporters) of this Project read the fine print. They are a for-profit company, not a mission-driven nonprofit ... nothing inherently wrong with that, but:

You pay them to accept your art (and pay extra if you want to have it digitized) while they keep the physical original and get a "perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform" your work. They claim the right to sell your originals if they can't contact you within two months. They also have some very slippery language about their right to censor content while simultaneously taking no responsibility for harm caused by submitted content. This all seems like a very bad deal to me.

I love, love, love the idea of a sketchbook repository, but not this one.

James Gurney said...

Hi, Jason, Thanks for digging into the fine print. I think this would be a hard sell for a lot of artists, especially professional artists, but I just wanted to share the links so people were aware of it.

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Steve said...

I participated in Sketchbook Project in 2013. I learned of it when they had a small van — which was on a several city tour — filled with sketchbooks parked at a local coffee shop. I enjoyed seeing the depth and breadth of work. It was a positive experience for me to plan and execute a 36 page book with a unified theme and then have it available to others on-line — which it still is. The remote possibility they would make use of my work was not a concern. In order to participate, you obtain the sketchbook from them. For me, the main negative was the low quality of the paper in the sketchbook.

Susan Krzywicki said...

I did this, too - back around 2014, I think. It was fun to do, and apparently my sketchbook is still in there because about 6 months ago someone checked it out.