Sketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Matthew William Robinson

by Maxwell Tielman

sketchbook_mwr_1 copy

One of the great, unexpected things about starting this column is the fact that, each week, I am able to see the myriad ways that artists use their sketchbooks. Not much of a sketcher myself, I always assumed that an artist’s sketchbook was filled with practically finished pencil drawings, perfectly rendered designs, and lots of nudes (a la Jack Dawson in Titanic). This, naturally, is not the case. As many of our recent sketchbook-keepers have confessed, a sketchbook is a wonderful place to get messy, experiment, and venture outside one’s comfort zone. This certainly seems the case with today’s artist, the multi-talented Matthew William Robinson.

I first met Matthew as the boyfriend of my friend Romina. When one is informed that a friend’s significant other is an artist, it’s not uncommon to find one’s self bracing for the inevitable moment in which he or she decides to show off their work. Regardless of its quality, you will likely need to provide effusive praise, so as not to spoil any feelings or friendships. Luckily, I didn’t need to feign any excitement with Matt—it was all quite real and totally warranted. His work, largely comprised of visual explorations of structure and material, is stunning. From his painted canvases to collaged substrates, Matthew’s art toys with ideas about architecture, three-dimensional form, and two-dimensional space—concepts that on paper might seem heady, but on Matt’s canvases are absolutely wondrous.

When Matthew isn’t working as a high school art teacher in Manhattan or trolling real estate listings for his dream house, he is collecting inspiration for his artwork. His multi-functional sketchbooks (part planner, scrapbook, and memory-keeper) are filled with notes, architectural drawings, and charming visualizations of ideas that need to be worked out. I recently spoke with Matt about his work and he described his artistic process as something of a ceaseless journey—a quest to understand the physical, oftentimes industrially constructed world around him. In a way, although these sketches don’t end up on the gallery wall, they are also part of this ongoing artistic exploration. Check out more  of Matthew’s work and read some of his own words about sketching after the jump! —Max



Above images: A sampling of Matthew’s work. To see more, check out his online portfolio here!

Why do you use a sketchbook?

Mostly, I use my camera to document structures, places and art works that inspire me and lead into ideas. I revisit the findings and print the ones I like the most for use as collage elements in my paintings. Otherwise, my sketchbook is full of personal writings and bizarre drawings of snack foods.

What are your go-to sketch book supplies?

Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?
In list form:
Rhodia Pad No. 11 – Orange – 3″ X 4″ – Graph
Moleskine Classic Pocket Notebook – Ruled 192 Pages – 3.5″ X 5.5″ – Black
Moleskine Reporter Pocket Notebook – Ruled 192 Page – 3.5″ X 5.5″ – Black
I look for smooth paper with a mild tooth, a notepad that is made with care, no matter how impulsive or unfiltered my drawings are. I like the wildness of hand and gesture framed in an orderly fashion.

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 sketchbooks with?

I like writing notes to my girlfriend with minimal words. The notes are mostly hearts but also some idiotic pictures that require an interpreter. Also, I draw maps of places I’ve never been to, and highly detailed renderings of raised ranches.












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.