I spent the weekend cleaning out my basement office and going through some old work. Im surprised at how much sketching I used to do. Thumbnail sketches, doodles, marker renderings. Sure, there were computers available at the time but most of my ideas started as sketches and then scanned or recreated on computer to be developed and polished. Now, it seems I spend my time staring at a blank Photoshop canvas waiting for inspiration to leap from my head to the screen.
The computer (and the internet) has become such a ubiquitous source for generating ideas
that weve forgotten what a useful tool sketching is, especially for
quickly communicating good ideas (and eliminating bad ones). Even many traditional artists have abandoned pen and paper for drawing tablets and ultra-sensitive stylus pens. But theres something very rewarding about the tactile nature of pencil to paper;
crafting ideas with hand tools versus arranging pixels with a stylus, keyboard or mouse.
Perhaps Ive been influenced by the fact I recently finished Scott McClouds ode to the marriage of ideas and art, Understanding Comics (Im currently reading his sequel, Reinventing Comics). Or maybe Im overwhelmed by the nostalgia of rummaging through my old work. Or perhaps its just envy — thinking of the designers I know who havent abandoned the sketch book in spite of working 8+ hours a day on a computer. Whatever the reason, I intend to reach for my pencil and sketchbook more often.