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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers will inspire many to pick up a sketchbook and try their hand at drawing the world around them. 

Gregory explains his reasoning for writing this book as something he had been searching for since he started drawing as a boy. An Illustrated Life is simply a gorgeous tribute to creativity, art, and getting lost in the object you are drawing. The pages are filled with examples from the sketchbooks and illustrated journals of an assortment of creative people. Some are professionally trained while others haven’t taken an art class since grade school. The pages are funny, sad, weird, and personal, yet all encourage the feeling that creativity lies within each one of us. 

I’m one of those people who collect sketchbooks, but never use them. However, after reading the first couple of profiles of artists and being allowed a glimpse into their private thoughts and inspirations, I have diligently been taking my drawing supplies everywhere I go.

One aspect of Gregory’s book that is so interesting is that each profile is unique. Every artist has his or her own style. Some prefer not to attach words to their illustrations, while others write a story to go along with their sketch. Melanie Ford Wilson describes drawing as “vital as oxygen,” while Venantius J. Pinto draws because it gives him clarity and understanding. 

Some of the artists keep a sketchbook to jot down ideas for future projects; others to capture a moment in time. Many use it for their eyes only. All the artists seem to have a recurring theme throughout their profiles—that sketching and keeping a journal has brought enlightenment, happiness, and contentment into their lives.

The lesson from An Illustrated Life is to draw for yourself and not worry about the person looking over your shoulder. As popular as photography has become, sketching remains even more personal and close to the artist. It is a treasure representing not just the art created, but the individual who created it.

Written by: Su Lin Mangan, May 6th 2009

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