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.