Sketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Caitlin Keegan

by Maxwell Tielman

Today’s sketchbook sneak peek comes to us courtesy of one of our favorite Brooklyn-based illustrators, Caitlin Keegan. Whether she is working on illustrations, patterns, or graphic designs, Caitlin’s work displays a lighthearted, handcrafted charm that we find ourselves constantly fawning over. In recent years, Caitlin has seen her work published in numerous books, magazines, and publications like Bust, Grain Edit, and yours truly. She also used to design for Nickelodeon Magazine which earns her mad props in my book (that magazine defined my childhood). Check out the rest of Caitlin’s fabulous sketchbook pages and some of Caitlin’s own words about sketchbook-keeping after the jump! —Max

Why do you use a sketch book?
I’m very new to keeping a sketchbook but so far it has mainly been a place to collect ideas- either written or visual. Until recently, I would always draw on loose sheets that I could throw away because a sketchbook always seemed too precious- like if I messed up one page the whole book was ruined. Once I started to see it as a place to make mistakes, drawing in a sketchbook became a lot more fun. I make notes and lists, make thumbnail drawings for layouts, record interesting decorative elements, and experiment with different ways of drawing. I also use it to practice drawing purely from my imagination and not from reference- which is challenging. Sometimes I’ll write down text that I find interesting and try to illustrate it. And sometimes I channel my 15-year-old self by copying a photo of Morrissey.
What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?

I have a favorite wooden mechanical pencil that I bought a long time ago at the Muji store. I also just bought this weird retractable eraser from there- similar to a mechanical pencil but with an eraser inside instead of lead. I like colored pencil lately, but I’m not attached to any particular brand. I like clean, organized materials- nothing too messy.

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?

The Met and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are my two favorite places to find drawing inspiration. I like drawing statues and sculptures a lot- objects with really defined shapes and shadows. A lot of my pattern designs have come out of sketchbook doodles and drawings- probably because I love drawing plants and organic things and those usually make good patterns. I also like to draw animals, jewelry, figures, and faces, so fashion magazines and books about decorative art are good for inspiration too.

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.