My Chat with Steven Peterman of The Sketchbook Project


Have ya’ll heard of The Sketch­book Project? If not, then let me give you a brief intro­duc­tion: it’s a Brooklyn-based com­pany that orga­nizes col­lab­o­ra­tive endeav­ors. They gained fame with The Sketch­book Project, which is a crowd-sourced library that fea­tures over 31,000 (!!) artists’ books con­tributed by peo­ple around the world. Cur­rently, they have that and other chal­lenges for you to par­tic­i­pate in.

I had the oppor­tu­nity to chat with Steven Peter­man, the co-founder and direc­tor of The Sketch­book Project, about it and their newly-launched web­site. It allows you to con­nect with art­work and artists in a more dig­i­tally engag­ing way.

the sketchbook project

The Sketch­book Project was first started in 2006 while Steven and his friends were in col­lage. He said they were try­ing to come up with ways to make “gallery space less intim­i­dat­ing and more acces­si­ble,” and this idea was the one that stuck. It also became insanely pop­u­lar, grow­ing from 2,000 sign ups at the begin­ning to 20,000 in 2010 (it cur­rently has between 8,000 and 10,000 peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing). The gain in num­bers was organic, as Steven explains that peo­ple want to be apart of a community.

Digital-and-In-person-SearcIf you want to view the sketch­books in per­son, you can do so at the Brook­lyn Art Library; it houses the col­lec­tion in phys­i­cal form. But, what if you can’t make it all the way to Brook­lyn? Have no fear — this is where the web­site redesign comes in.  With the exten­sive dig­i­tal library, you can browse the books from any­where in the world. Steven was telling me all about it - you can cre­ate col­lec­tions, share work that you like, and even search by theme. It’s a way to pro­mote cre­atives that you love and even find new peo­ple to col­lab­o­rate with.


the sketchbook project

So, check it out! One thing that Steven men­tioned was the sim­i­lar­i­ties you see among books and projects from dis­parate peo­ple. It’s inter­est­ing how trends — col­ors, imagery, pat­terns, and more — per­me­ate cul­ture and are expressed through­out the world. This is expressed with as sim­ple as the same fab­ric on the cover or the same the­matic images.

Illustrated Ladies by Monica Garwood

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Mon­ica Gar­wood is an illus­tra­tor liv­ing in the San Fran­cisco Bay area. She’s a fairly recent grad­u­ate of the Cal­i­for­nia Col­lage of Arts and I’m really impressed by her port­fo­lio so far. Gar­wood has a great sense of char­ac­ter design, which includes fashionable-looking ladies that have tat­toos and cats. What’s not to love?

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Pip and Pop’s Peculiarly Adorable Candy-Colored Worlds

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These images are a bit of oldies, but are def­i­nitely good­ies. I’ve seen some great minia­ture art­works lately (like the those by Kendal Mur­ray), which reminded me of how much I enjoy Pip and Pop’s  (aka Nicole Andri­je­vic and Tanya Schultz) tiny, candy-colored scenes.

The Aus­tralian duo uses things like sugar, sand, glit­ter, arti­fi­cial plants, found objects, pipe clean­ers, wire, beads and more in their site-specific instal­la­tions. Of course, their mas­sively minia­ture works look impres­sive from far away, but it’s the details that I love. Small char­ac­ters look as though they are tra­vers­ing land­scapes full of larger-than life flora and uniden­ti­fi­able fungi. It’s all strange, yes, but makes me wish I could explore these places in real life.

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Roosevelt and 69th Street, Queens: Header Picture Project Featuring Kelly Lasserre


It’s another month, which means that Brown Paper Bag has a shiny new header. Illus­tra­tor and let­terer Kelly Lasserre has lent her fine pic­to­r­ial skills and depicted a block of busi­ness in her neigh­bor­hood in Queens, New York. I love all of her hand let­ter­ing and tiny details on the signs and build­ings. Makes me want to take a walk down this street!

As always, the work is for sale in the Brown Paper Bag shop as a 4″ x 6″ print — per­fect for fram­ing! Grab one before they’re all gone.

Here’s the scoop on Kelly, who I’ve had the plea­sure of know­ing since our under­grad­u­ate illus­tra­tion days:

Name: kelly lasserre
Loca­tion: queens, new york
Web­site: /
What was your dream job when you were 7 years old? a pro­fes­sional female rock climber
Your pro­fes­sion now: a semi pro­fes­sional illus­tra­tor and maker of things
What’s your favorite thing to draw? objects of sen­ti­men­tal value and sub­jects oth­er­wise over­looked in our daily lives. and food.
What was the inspi­ra­tion for this piece?
my neigh­bor­hood is really inter­est­ing and i love it, it is extremely eth­ni­cally diverse and pre­dom­i­nately filled with small busi­nesses like this. i’ve always wanted to paint the places i walk by every day, to record their unique facades in an image.
How did you cre­ate your illus­tra­tion? Was it any dif­fer­ent than your reg­u­lar process?
it was only dif­fer­ent in that i very rarely work from pho­tographs but i did here. the rest of the process was how i typ­i­cally work. i sim­pli­fied the details, like the writ­ing on the papers in the win­dows. and omit­ted any back­ground or side­walk, because that’s not meant to be a focus. then i just worked in lay­ers of col­ors– i use hol­bein acryla gouache and tiny brushes.
Have you ever tried the Fiesta Grill? If so, how is it? yes sev­eral times! you can get a combo with rice and one side for $3.95 or two sides for $6.95. you just point to what you want and they have a ton of options. great for quick tasty fil­ipino food and all the folks work­ing there are really kind.

Stacey Rozich’s Paintings Are a Pattern-Filled Cultural Mash Up

stacey_rozich8stacey_rozich5 I’ve fol­lowed the work (and admired) of Stacey Rozich for years. I think it was since she was fresh out of school, but who knows. Either way, it’s always inter­est­ing to see how one’s work evolves over time. Rozich’s work still focuses heav­ily on pat­tern, masks, and draw­ing inspi­ra­tion from folk­lore, but now incor­po­rates a con­tem­po­rary cul­tural mash up. A lit­tle more about her work via Rozich’s website:

Since mov­ing on from a world of Japan­ese ani­ma­tion and mean pen­cil draw­ings she has cre­ated a vibrantly painted folk­loric nar­ra­tive that draws inspi­ra­tion from many cul­tural ref­er­ences, build­ing sce­nar­ios pulled from a realm of indige­nous and con­tem­po­rary sym­bol­ism. Rozich cre­ates a para­ble for present day built on sit­u­a­tional vignettes that are imag­ined through the lens of famil­iar fic­tional archetypes.

Deeply rooted in cul­tural tra­di­tion and rit­ual, these alle­gor­i­cal accounts join ances­tral folk­lore with ele­ments of moder­nity and sur­re­al­ism. Influ­ence is taken from travel, world tex­tiles, child­hood mem­o­ries and the many many hours spent watch­ing television.

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A Polka Dot Hamburger and a Happy Cloud: Collages by Enemies Yay

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Thanks to Amy, I was recently acquainted with the lively work of Ene­mies Yay. It’s the brain­child of Aus­tralian artists and design­ers Pete Cromer and Laura Blyth­man. They col­lab­o­rate on vibrant col­lages that use hand-painted and cut papers that form happy ani­mals, fruits, specters, and more. I love their tech­nique and all of the kooky char­ac­ters that are made of fun shapes.

You can pur­chase prints, cards, and more in their online shop.









A Wall Covered in Tiny Ceramics? Yes, Please!

chau nguyen

I’m lov­ing these small objects by Chau Nguyen. The Houston-based artist and teacher cre­ated them as an exper­i­ment. She writes, “For my sec­ond test [below] of these tiny pieces (still unnamed) I used a rougher tex­tured clay. Dream­ing of a wall cov­ered with these?”

An entire wall? Yes, please!

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Here’s more work by Nguyen. In addi­tion to teach­ing and art-making, she’s also a buyer/partner of the shop Myth + Sym­bol.


10 Cute Things Just for You, on Friday

What makes some­thing cute? Is it the size? The mate­r­ial? The con­tent? Obvi­ously, it’s a sub­jec­tive term that varies from per­son to per­son.  To me, some­thing that is small, col­or­ful, and occa­sion­ally cud­dly is adorable. Some peo­ple might think oth­er­wise. Here are 10 of ‘em for your Fri­day. Enjoy!

Sriracha sauce bottle via HermanMarie

Sriracha sauce bot­tle via Her­man­Marie

Mini sloth! via Mount Royal Mint

Mini sloth! via Mount Royal Mint

Liz Boyd, via Chronicle Books.

Liz Boyd, via Chron­i­cle Books.

I just bought one of these adorable kitties from Silver Lining Ceramics!

I just bought one of these adorable kit­ties from Sil­ver Lin­ing Ceram­ics!