The Sketchbook Project Drops by Madison

sketch1by Sherry BonDurant, writer for The Artery

Madison continues to strike it rich in the art department, because the Sketchbook Project is on the road and heading to Madison. Mark your calendar for Wednesday, August 20th from 4-8pm, at the Central Library, located at 201 W. Mifflin, will be hosting the traveling Sketchbook Project. Not familiar with this organization? If you are an artist, you should be and you can learn all about it right here, because I interviewed the founder, Steven Peterman, to get you all up to speed.

Can you describe the Sketchbook Project in one sentence?

The Sketchbook Project is the world’s largest crowd-sourced collection of artist sketchbooks, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

How did this digital concept get its start?

Our Digital Library has existed for several years, but we recently launched a library card free digital checkout system. Our new system allows users to check out books using their own smartphones and iPads provided at our library locations. Users can create a cue of books to view and even preview digitized sketchbooks on their devices. We wanted to create a system which allows our audience to easily preview, access, and search our vast sketchbook library using keywords and themes. Users can even curate collections of their favorite sketchbooks on our new website.

Do you accept artists from anywhere in the world, and if so, how does one get their work included?

Anyone can join The Sketchbook Project by visiting our website, www.sketchbookproject.com. There, you can order a regular sketchbook to be mailed to you, which you can complete throughout the year. Sketchbooks that are mailed back to us by our annual deadline are included in the following year’s Mobile Library Tour throughout North America. Participating artists can also choose to have their sketchbooks digitized for easy viewing on our website by anyone around the world.

sketch2One interesting fact about participating in the project is that artists who register for a sketchbook have the option to create their own book from scratch, as long as it fits the normal 5″ x 7″ parameters when closed. Because many artists are bookbinders as well, we have a number of completely handmade books in our collection!

Are you looking for volunteers to assist in any way? If people are interested in helping out, who should they contact?

The Mobile Library will arrive with trained librarians on site to assist folks with check out!

What makes this project important to the art community?

The Sketchbook Project is a crucial platform for international artists to connect on a very personal level. At our Mobile Library Tour stops, our audience has the chance to view work by artists from around the world in a personal, tactile format, which can be much more direct than viewing a drawing on a gallery’s white wall. Similarly, viewers of our online Digital Library can see full detailed spreads of thousands of sketchbooks, providing an important tool for research in illustration, art, and specific themes which are tagged and searchable in our sketchbook database. In this sense The Sketchbook Project provides ways to connect for individuals who may be professional artists, aspiring artists, researchers, and people of all backgrounds who are simply interested in getting to know a stranger through their personal sketchbook story.

I am really excited about the Sketchbook Project’s visit to Madison. What can you share with the community about why they should check it out?

We are looking forward to visiting Madison this month. We hope the local community will join us at our tour stop because The Sketchbook Project acts as an outlet for artists to share their stories with the world, as every book tells a tale. From finding a cancer patient’s chronicle of their recovery, a marriage proposal between the bindings, or drawings made by distant friends, the Mobile Library has allowed for sketchbooks to evolve into a means of connecting with artists in a way you may otherwise never experience.

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