Sketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Katy Smail

by Maxwell Tielman


We covered artist Katy Smail’s stunning transformation of a Williamsburg office a few weeks back and we can not seem to get enough of her beautiful work! With a style that is at once delicate, textural, and ornate, Katy’s drawings are reminiscent of the sinuous lines of Art Nouveau or the florid decor of a vintage perfume bottle. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, storefronts, interiors, and advertisements (her wide-ranging clientele includes Macy’s, Converse, and Land’s End)—a true testament to her work’s ability to blur the line between art and design, two dimensional and three dimensional. Recently, Katy has begun producing lovely, custom-designed stationery for weddings and events. We’re so thrilled to be able to provide a peek into some of Katy’s sketchbooks today—they don’t disappoint! Check out more images and Katy’s own thoughts about sketchbook keeping after the jump! —Max

Why do you use a sketch book?
I like sketchbooks because they are a sweet and self-contained way to coax ideas, experiments and developments onto paper. The importance of sketchbooks was really drilled into me at Edinburgh College of Art, and when I look back at my sketchbooks from college they look like little objects of art in and of themselves; I like them far better than my finished pieces at the time. I have less time these days to devote to filling pages with flights of fancy, so my current books aren’t as pretty but they are still really important to me. The books I use for observational drawings are my favorites and end up being really useful for projects; maybe it’s a wildflower drawing that becomes a pattern (like the Five Leaves wall); they are so lovely for me to look back on. I use different sketchbooks to work through these ideas and develop compositions for my custom wedding invites, patterns and personal works.
What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?
I like blank moleskins for their lovely smooth paper; I like drawing quite detailed and the pencils just glide along so nicely on their surface without smudging. I just love the tactile quality of that thin paper as you flick through, they feel special like an old treasured book. I have been using those little yellow papermate mechanical pencils forever and I just adore them. I love how fine tipped and simple they are. My favorite pens are skinny micron pens, again for the detail you can find. For color, I like colored pencils, paints, pens; I go through different phases all the time.
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?
My favorite thing to draw is flora and fauna of all kinds. I particularly love to be surrounded with soft and spindly wildflowers; it is so meditative for me and I have more books filled with botanicals than anything else. Other favorites are kitties in dresses, the faces of my friends and muses, melancholy girls with long mermaid hair and experiments with color and pattern. One day I hope to organize everything into a little library of wildflowers and lovely creatures…

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