Back when I was a kid I liked to draw. Sketch, really. I was not, or am, a talented artist but studied my comics and later advertisements. I wasn’t a doodler then but now…
It has become a key part of my design process to utilize the primitive toolset of a pencil, paper, and eraser. Rulers? No need to be accurate. Protractor? Nah. Just my imagination and a pencil sharpener, if I can find one. There is something to be said for creating some with your hands that did not exist before. Sketching is an accidentally mystery; when you get lost in your distracting thoughts and inscribe them to paper, suddenly you have direction.
Sketching in a digital industry is something we should all practice. You don’t have to be a designer or an artist. Think of it as a list. The world seems to be based on lists that we either create, obey, or destroy. Lists were designed, sketched out. The 7 Habits, 10 Commandments, grocery list, Rob Gordon’s infamous Top Five lists. Ideas start at a kitchen table or a friend’s house and being able to document them for later use is how we can remember to act upon them.
In 2016 I filled three sketchbooks and I have shared some pages through my social media accounts. I cannot tell you how important this has become to my profession and design thinking. Sketching is such a powerful tool. 2016 was a collective journey of business decisions, design, and personal growth. Each sketchbook tells it’s own story that only I can read while some might be able to recognize ideas or possibly see their projects layered in lead and eraser debris. Fortunately I was able to document 2016 in drawings.
Do I sketch everything? No but I try to. Logos? Yes. When I dive into Illustrator there is a large art board, a blank canvas, which I can fill with digital doodles with trial and error. It is amazing. The initial sketches on my graph paper is where I see the ideas truly spawn. Live with those imperfections! Those rough lists that have and started typing them up in Google Docs and found them to be of reference later. Or that pad of paper you decorated with ornate shapes that embody your pages. Like I said, I do not do this for every project and I am not suggesting that everyone does.
That pencil, or pen, and paper is a intimate moment between your mind and hands. Put them to work and appreciate them later.