I don’t know about you, but I can sometimes be a little intimidated by my own sketchbooks, specifically in cases where I’ve made some drawings that I feel were particularly successful, and become reluctant to add to them, either from worry about carrying a sketchbook with drawings I like in it around and losing it, or simply feeling like I have to be confident I’m going to make a comparably good drawing with my next entry.
This is completely silly, of course, and counter-productive for an artist, but I venture to think some of you can identify.
How much more intimidating would it be, though, if the sketchbook in which you were drawing were full of wonderful drawings by other artists? Daunting? Perhaps, but how inspiring might it be as well? This is the situation facing the artists participating in Sketchtravel.
Sketchtravel is a project jointly managed by Daisuke Tsutsumi, a multifaceted artist who I profiled on lines and colors last May, and Gérald Guerlais, a French illustrator and background designer, who informed me about the project.
Sketchtravel revolves around a single sketchbook to which 50 artists will make contributions at it travels around the world.
Each artist contributes a single page of art, be it drawing or painting, though the rules suggest that care must be taken not to damage previous or subsequent pages with invasive tools or techniques. The drawings are scanned, both as a precaution in the event of the worst case scenario of the book being lost or stolen, and also so the virtual version of the physical sketchbook can be updated on the project’s web site.
The theme of the works varies widely, though it often focuses on the book itself and its travels.
One of the more interesting aspects of the process is that the sketchbook is making its zig-zag journey around the curve of the horizon not by post or package service, but carried by hand. It travels in a custom made, felt lined, oak case with brass hardware.
Each invited artist receives the sketchbook from the previous contributor in person, adds their contribution, and, in turn, hands it off to the next artist; though I found no mention of how the artists are selected or how the logistics of travel were determined. The site has a map marking the book’s recent travels and current location (as of this writing, the west coast of the U.S.).
The project was started in 2006 and the sketchbook currently has 24 artists represented in the virtual version on the site. You can view the contributions to date, along with photos of the book and pictures of the hand-offs from artist to artist. There is also a list of the participating artists with links to their individual web sites or blogs.
Guerlais also maintains a blog for the project, with more details about the sketchbook’s travels, the hand-offs and related news. The blog and the web site have content in both French and English.
As each artist adds to the book, presumably more inspired than intimidated by the work of those who have added their drawings before them, the book will grow organically into its final state as a collaborative artwork. When finished, the original sketchbook will be exhibited at the Arludik Gallery in Paris, after which it will be auctioned off to a charity association selected by the artists.
(Images at left, from top: Gérald Guerlais, Dominique Louis, Claude William Trebutien, Ronnie Del Carmen, Nash Dunnigan, Benoit le Pennec.)