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My Submission to The Sketchbook Project Housed by The Brooklyn Art Library

The Cartoon World of
The Extraordinary Tourist
Act One - 1982-1995.
If you're looking for an opportunity to leave some small legacy of your art behind, or just looking for another place to get eyeballs on your work then The Sketchbook Project by The Brooklyn Art Library may be of interest to you.

The Brooklyn Art Library is a crowdfunded library of artist sketchbooks that anyone can join. Their focus is on creating a collection of physical art that viewers can interact with. The collection is made up of literally thousands of sketchbooks submitted by artists of all levels worldwide.

You can physically go to the library in Brooklyn to view the collection. A selection of books are toured around the USA each year, and artists also have the option to digitize their sketchbooks for people to view online.

The Brooklyn Art Library is home to more than
45,000 sketchbooks.
Photo: The Brooklyn Art Library Website.

It is a bit of a vanity project since the artists themselves have to purchase a sketchbook, fill it up, and send it back, with additional cost if you want to digitize your book too. After that it's a life of warm fuzzy feels as the library will send you a notification every time your book is viewed.

That aside, it's not expensive (buying a sketchbook could make a great gift for an artist in your life perhaps?) and it is kind of cool to let people know you contributed to a project that serves as a unique source of inspiration and discovery for thousands of people worldwide.

At the time I came across the project I'd started sketching for 10-15 minutes daily in my sketchbook, just to get in a bit of regular drawing practice. I thought, instead of sketching in my sketchbook, why not buy one of the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbooks and fill that up? I'd get my drawing practice and, with no extra effort, I'd create some art to send out into the world.

That was the plan but when the sketchbook arrived I thought the book might be a cool way to document some of my early cartoon characters, like my 15 year old self started to do back in 1985.

So that's what I did. However, I didn't want to spend hours creating finished pieces of art on every page because, if I had, there's a good chance I'd abandon the project as too time consuming. I tried to embrace the idea that this is a sketchbook and created each composition on the page, with no preliminary planning sketching, and using biro pens - which is what I use for my daily practice sketching.

All of the drawings are completely new renditions based upon my original cartoons and character design sketches (I'm a hoarder of my old art so I have all that stuff stored away). I tried to keep them pretty faithful to how I drew the characters back in the day.

For drawings like 'The Gang' I used online
group photo posing references to help
plan my composition.
While all of the characters and scenes were drawn without any preliminary planning sketches, I did look up reference images on the internet. Particularly for how to pose groups of people for a photo, to help me position my characters in more naturally, and give me less chance of running out of space.

As it turned out some of the pages took far longer to draw than anticipated. I think the longest took about three hours not including finding my original artwork and sourcing any reference images for posing the characters. By the last few pages it was getting to be a bit of a grind but I managed to see it through and complete my book.

It took me a while to decide on a title. In the end I went with the obvious but completely accurate "The Cartoon World of The Extraordinary Tourist, Act One - 1982-1995".

The years covered range from when I first showed signs of wanting to draw cartoons specifically, to about the time I pretty much stopped my single focus of ever being a professional cartoonist of the likes of Jim Davis (Garfield) or Charles Schultz (Peanuts).

From 1995 onward I just thought of myself as an artist and writer, with leanings towards being a Fine Artist of sorts (that's 'Fine Artist' as in the type of artist that creates work for gallery display, public art etc).

If you would like just a brief glance at the whole diary I made a mock up video showing all the pages below. It's less than a minute long.



To get a better look at each page, embeded below is my Flickr album of my entire sketchbook. For an extended look at each page, along with images of my original artwork from back in the day, and a more complete description of my life at the time check out my Instagram Posts.

To participate in The Sketchbook Project (or one of their other projects), or to browse the digital library of over 20,000 sketchbooks, visit The Brooklyn Art Library website.

If you're interested to find my sketchbook in the library it is part of volume 16. Submissions for this volume close on August 15, 2020. So if it's not yet available, that will be why (I do know the digital version will not be available until after this date).

The Sketchbook Project by The Brooklyn Art Library Vol 16

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