artworkSketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Courtney Wotherspoon

by Maxwell Tielman

As we continue with this month’s special round-up of Sketchbook Sneak Peeks, it is with great pleasure that I share one of my new favorite artists: the illustrator and lifestyle designer Courtney Wotherspoon. I stumbled upon Courtney’s work by chance while browsing the work of alumni from my alma mater, the Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute. I fell immediately in love with Courtney’s beautiful illustrations and the way she seamlessly blends a number of different media, from delicate line work in pencil to bold swaths of colorful paint. Since graduating in 2004 and moving to Toronto, Courtney has amassed an impressive list of clientele. Her fabulous illustrations have been featured in such publications as The New York Times, NYLON, SPIN, and Uppercase Magazine. You can purchase some of Courtney’s art and designs on her web shop here. Check out a special look into Courtney’s sketchbooks and some of her own thoughts about sketchbook keeping after the jump! —Max

Why do you use a sketch book?

The sketchbook acts as a great landing pad and depository of doodles, drawings and ideas. When I’m working on specific projects, I typically organize jobs by way of individual clipboards and their accompanying drawings and sketches are kept together there. The sketchbook is where everything else goes. The stuff I’m not currently working on (but wish I were), the images that don’t get to live in a specified ‘job’, all the rogue drawings and experiments with materials. It’s a motley crew when I see multiple pages side by side, but I guess that’s the idea. It’s where my different styles and materials all come out to play.

What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?

Pens, Uni-Ball Deluxe Micro, always black. Sometimes a blue ballpoint pen sneaks in if I can’t find my favourites.

Cut paper bits and glue stick, Derwent HBs and 2Bs that I end up sharpening down to the size of golf pencils, and sometimes a brush and acrylic ink, though I often don’t want to wait for it to dry before I turn the page and move on the next.

I started off filling large sketchbooks, upwards of 11″ x 14″, where I attempted to fill and complete entire ‘pieces’. Over the years, I’ve gone smaller and smaller and am now usually in a 5″ x 7″ or a mini 3″ x 5″ Moleskine. Some pages will be filled with colour, cutouts and imagery and others might just hold a single solitary pencil line.

Aside from preliminary sketches for larger projects, are there any things that you like to sketch just for fun? What are some things that you most frequently fill your sketch books with?

Food and packaging products, lettering and typography, funny looking faces and wrinkly hands, some prints and repetitive patterns; I’m typically just looking around me and drawing what strikes me rather than creating images from of my imagination. Whether it’s a page from a magazine, a tree in my backyard, or a beautiful building on a trip, I like to stay rooted in some sort of reality. It allows me to work on my actual drawing and ‘seeing’ and not get too caught up in concept – which can sometimes put too much pressure on the sketchbook. When it comes to the sketchbook, I like to just do what comes naturally, and oftentimes I need to sit down and think too hard for conceptual sketches to fill the pages. A lot of notes, ideas, and lists tend to creep in as well, so they usually all end up being hybrid sketchbook/notebooks. Grocery lists and a drawing of Lady Gaga living side by side. Sounds about right!


Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.