Sketchbook Sneak Peek

Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Sarah Burwash

by Maxwell Tielman


Today’s sketchbook sneak peek comes courtesy of one of our new favorite illustrators—the Canadian-born Sarah Burwash. We have been encountering Sarah’s work constantly over the last several months, everywhere from Kinfolk Magazine to the catalogue from Hansel From Basel. Little did we know that all of this fabulous work came from the same artist! After taking a peek at Sarah’s website, we have to say that we’re absolutely smitten. With darling illustrations, nature-inspired patterns, and a pottery business on the side, Ms. Burwash certainly knows her way into our Design*Sponge hearts. Take a look at more pages of Sarah’s sketchbooks and read some of her own words about her process after the jump! —Max


Above image: Some of Sarah’s illustration and pattern work. For more, check out her online portfolio here.

Why do you use a sketch book?
My sketch book is a web for my thoughts—a place to stick ideas, quick sketches, plan drawings out, jot down title names or something I hear on the radio and want think about later. Its a place to gather material and draw dumb comics.
What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?
I mostly sketch in pencil or pen and sometimes pencil crayon if I’m working on colour palettes. HB pencil, jiffy marker, micron 01 or 005 are most common but whatever is around. It is less about the material and media and more about catching fleeting thoughts, words, images and ideas before the disappear.
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?
I use my sketch book to take note of other artist work a lot; as a way to collect different aspects of other artists’ work in one place.  For example, if I’m at the library looking at a book of Inuit art and see an aspect of an image I really like or a drawing technique, I’ll quickly mimic that for reference.  If I’m hiking or camping I sketch the mountains and landscape and plants. I don’t do this a lot, but whenever I do, I wonder why I don’t more because it feels so good. I doodle in it while on the phone. Lots of to do lists and names of artists and text from books I’m reading and drawings of hot dogs.

sketchbookburwash_2 sketchbookburwash_3 sketchbookburwash_5 sketchbookburwash_4 sketchbookburwash_7 sketchbookburwash_6 sketchbookburwash_9 sketchbookburwash_8 sketchbookburwash_10 sketchbookburwash_11 sketchbookburwash_supplies sketchbookburwash_12

Suggested For You


  • Loving all the sketchbook sneak peaks! Great inspiration to continue all artists to continue daily doodles. Also, looking at sketches is a much more intimate view of great artists/illustrators work and process.

  • It is so interesting to see the workings of Sarah’s design process. I adore her patterns and love that she can take any motif and work it into a pattern. That is something i really value in a designer. Too many patterns lack really story these days, and just blend into one another. This is not so of Sarah Burwash patterns! Absolutely cracking!

  • She has such beautiful work!! BTW I am so in love with this series – it’s fascinating, like looking into the artist’s brain at work. :)

  • What I love about sketches is that you can simply draw what you want and you are not pressured to keep the line as straight as possible, etc. I remember when my sister and I were still kids. She used to make the sketch and I use to write the story. The result: a comics or a novel.

  • Oh, I have admired Sarah’s work for a good while now. I am so excited to read this feature! Quite inspiring and interesting.

  • Love the sketchbook series- I keep a sketchbook for my work as well and I love peeking in at other artists sketchbooks! Thanks D*S and Sarah Burwash!

  • Looking inside an artist’s notebook is always such a treat. Have you ever seen Gay Talese’s notes on “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”?

  • Beautiful!! I’m so glad Sarah’s work is being recognized. I bought two prints from her at a flee market in Halifax a few years ago. I cherish them so much.