I find myself seeking stories of all kinds, anywhere I can find them. From moments with people, cities or nature, these stories are the building blocks of larger works, even series. But since I can’t be in the studio every second, I take sketchbooks with me wherever I go.
Dotting the backseat of my car, backpack, bedroom, and studio, they’re perfect to grab when an experience becomes a translatable moment; but they’re also nice reminders to make good use of my free time -- from waiting for a friend at a cafe to before a meeting starts. With enough use, these little books become art themselves, transforming into thick collections of moments that I can read over and over. I love how the covers get weathered and rough the longer I have them. They get accidentally dropped in dirt during a hike or sandwiched in an apple crate full of supplies; paint gets spilled on them, and the pages smudge over time. They’re so impermanent.
After my recent solo trip to British Columbia, I finished a sketchbook that had been three years in the making and was interested to look back at how my process evolved within the covers. From the beginning, when the book was brand new, the perfection of the stark white pages made starting almost too intimidating and difficult. But once the first brave mark is cast, the pages start to demonstrate progress, obsession, observations and emotions. After three years, a lot had changed.
Before I left for Canada, Blurb Books reached out to me to see if I would be interested in creating a photo book. Knowing that my sketchbook would be finished after the trip, I was happy to talk to them and learn more about their online bookmaking process.
Turns out, it’s pretty easy. I created the book using Blurb's free book making software, BookWright, and could customize any and every detail thanks to their flexible platform. (They’ll even send paper swatches to help you choose the right paper.) Since I wanted the focus of the book to be the sketchbook pages, I chose to highlight white negative space with minimal words and let the work do the talking. Creating the book content simply involved documenting the sketch pages with a Canon SLR and editing the images with Photoshop. I'd like to be clear that I simply manipulated how the book pages would look with Photoshop; I did nothing to change the color of the works. Making the presentation true to the original is my goal in any project, especially those that are posted to my website. I also enjoyed having the option to use other plugins for Adobe software, like Indesign or Lightroom for the design of the site
The finished book arrived a few days ago, and I’m thrilled with its quality and appearance. Creating a book with Blurb gave me a refined place to show off these intimate sketches of my experiences traveling from west to east across the US, in British Columbia and on short day trips in California. In many ways, transferring a few of my favorite sketchbook pages to the book was similar to curating art for a gallery show. The gallery provides space for the art to breathe, but the book has given me permanence to reflect on the work I created while traveling. It’s also stirred ideas of a bigger book I’d like to make someday.
Wherever your interests lie, be it art or otherwise, it’s nice to take images that are special to you and combine them into a collective work to keep for yourself, or as a gift for others.
A word on partnerships: With the objective of remaining true to my art and lifestyle, I only agree to partnerships with companies I respect. Therefore, I’m thankful for companies like Blurb, who are involved in bettering communities, and support my practice as an artist. I want to be as transparent as possible out of respect for my readers and in accordance with the FTC law of 2013. All content and opinions are my own. For more information on my views please read my open letter regarding partnerships.
Writing and photos by Heather Day. Edited and polished by Kate Holthouser.