Showcase: 20 Brilliant Designer Sketchbooks to Help Inspire Your Creative Workflow


If you followed Ben Mounsey's "Core Art Skills" Series, then you will know how important it is to have a Sketchbook. But why settle for something drab and dreary when you can use one that is as inspired as you are? In the following showcase you will find a collection of 20 Designer Sketchbooks that are made for creativity (much like the designers of the books themselves.)

Ben Mounsey’s Core Art Skills Series

Part 1 - Welcome to the Course

Part 2 - The Sketchbook

Part 3 - Life and Figure Drawing

Part 4 - Working in Traditional 3D

Part 5 - Traditional Media Techniques

Part 6 - Tutorial: Bringing It All Together


Break your artist block with an impromptu game of Bingo. Did you know that these sketchbooks are so creative that Martha Stewart herself has featured them?!

Soma Venus - BINGO Sketchbooks

The Ultimate Sketchbook

What more could a designer possibly want? The cutting matt cover is exactly what I've always needed, no more shredding the backboard of my sketchbook. This really is the ultimate sketchbook!

Your Secret Admiral - Ultimate Sketchbook

Chalkboard Book

When inspiration hits so fast that you don't even have time to open your book... just watch out for chalk dust.

Erinzam - Chalkboard Book


A pocket Moleskine is perfect for collecting overheard conversations and sneaky character sketches. With this design you'll always remember the gossip and chit-chat hidden inside.

Milkweed and Honey - ChitChat Pocket Moleskine

Grass Journal

This Journal covered in plastic grass reminds me of lazy summer afternoons in the park, and not only because the grass can be just as itchy. Sometimes the best way to find inspiration is to take a picnic rug to a nice sunny spot, throw your shoes off and relax. The "No Computer Zone" will do you a world of good.

Robayre - Grass Journal with Ribbon Closure

Grey Numbers Notebook

A notebook that you can store a pencil in is great for people like myself, who continually lose pens and pencil. Just try not to lose the notebook too.

randL - Grey Numbers Notebook

Mini Leather Journal Book

This book is small and stylish with a neat wrap-around cover that protects the pages inside. Small enough to fit in your backpack but sturdy enough to survive being thrown around, I would definitely pack this book if I was hiking.

Owl Bindery - Poppy Red Daisies Mini Leather Journal Book

Nota Buttone

A clutch style cover is a stylish way to carry around your sketchbook. The bright color of this design will inspire you to put pencil to paper, even on the most grey and rainy days.

Feral Empire - Nota Buttone

The Gatekeeper Journal Keychain

This is a really tiny book that you can attach to your keys. While you may not be able to sketch comfortable sized images in this book, you can jot down overheard conversations or your personal ideas and thoughts. This book is even sneakier than the pocket Moleskine, with the added bonus of always being with you (or your keys at least).

Badon Hill - The Gatekeeper - Leather Journal Keychain

Raven - Gocco Printed Pocket Moleskine

Gocco is a form of printing similar to screen printing. If you don't have a Print Gocco at home, you can cut out a stencil to print your own personalized journal. I love the way that this Raven design is finished off with a ribbon that ties the book closed and compliments the image.

Inkmeup - Raven Gocco Printed Pocket Moleskine

Black Leather Journal with Silver Lock and Key

A Journal with a lock reminds me of secret diaries. If you have ideas and sketches you don't want to share with anyone else, a lockable journal is great. Alternately, feel free to sketch as messy as you like knowing that nobody will ever see.

Julie Boyles - Black Leather Journal with Silver Lock and Key

Knitted Moleskine Cover

Moleskine Covers may not be a journal design, but it's fairly easy to find Moleskines these days. I have a few scattered about my office that could use a makeover with a cozy cover like these. The best part is that when you're done with the Moleskine you can put it into storage and cover a new one.

Devon e. - Knitted Moleskine Cover


As the name suggests, a Note Folio is a folio for notes. If you're a chaotic creative that can't contain ideas to one notebook a folio is fantastic to store all your ideas before they blow away or get thrown out. The pocket section is large enough to fit napkin sketches and the book section is there if you happen to be organized enough to have your notebook with you (or need to document the scraps).

Poketo - Notefolio

Keyboard Notebook

If you're like me and spend a huge proportion of the day at a computer, a Keyboard Notebook is exactly what you need. You can scribble ideas and thumbnail sketches without being too far away from the comfort of your graphics software.

Nothing Elegant -
Keyboard Notebook

Cassette Tape Notebook

The cassette notebook has all the nostalgia and none of the hassle. A nice feature of these sketchbooks is a hard plastic cover that should withstand a few tussles in the locker-room or an impromptu break-dancing session.

Wednesday Garden - Cassette Tape Notebook

Skull Journal

Journal and Sketchbook keeping is not all about design editions and subtle elegance, it's about your artwork and should be as individual as you are. So, what do you use if you're more likely to enjoy the darker side of life than skipping off though the daisies for a daydream? A Journal with a big skull and crossbones on it could be the answer.

Derrick Velasquez - Skull Journal

Skeleton Notebook

Show your love for Vector art, nature and skeletons all at the same time! This notebook is an explosion of creative talent, designed by Vector artist Nino Lee.

ROUTE121 - IMAGINote Notebook - Skeleton

iPad Notebook

The cutting edge of sketchbook technology, the iPad Notebook can run infinitely without ever having to be charged and doesn't require any software. This is a very handy Notebook for Interface Designers.

PixelPads - iPad Notebook

Sliced Bread Notebook

This is not just a collection of books that look like a loaf of bread, it's 12 months worth of sketching. Numbered 1 - 12, these notebooks are a clever reminder to stay creative. I haven't been able to find these for purchase, but be sure to check out Burak Kaynak's folio for more interesting designs.

Burak Kaynak - Sliced Bread Notebook

Pantone A5 Notebooks

Show your love of color with a notebook made to look like a Pantone swatch. If you're finding it hard to chose your favorite, think about how hard it must have been to chose six colors from the entire Pantone collection.

Pantone - Pantone A5 Notebooks

Further Reading

    Whether it's big or small, designer or quirky, once you have chosen your perfect sketchbook it's time to put it to good use. Below you will find some further resources that will help sharpen your skill set and refresh your creative energy.

    • Group: Illustration Friday

      If you're still finding it hard to make time to sketch you could consider joining a group like Illustration Friday. As the name suggests, every friday there's a new theme to draw with the final artwork (traditional, digital or sketch) compiled the following week.

      Visit Website

    • Article: Character Design Sketching Approaches

      Back in April Creative Sessions showcased eleven days of Character Illustration. For me, this was one of the standout articles. Take a closer look at the sketching process of twelve character illustrators, and how each one approaches the process of design differently.

      Visit Article

    • Article: Finding Your Hand Drawn Lettering Voice

      Following on from Character Illustration, Creative Sessions ran twelve days of Illustrative Lettering. In Finding Your Hand Drawn Lettering Voice, Chris Piascik shares his experiences with hand rendered lettering and how to find inspiration for your own experiments with type.

      Visit Article

    • Blog: Moleskinerie

      An inspiring glimpse of the people and places behind the sketches and scribbles.

      Visit Blog

    • Event: The Sketchbook Project

      If you consider yourself a Notebook Ninja, check out the Sketchbook Project. Participants are asked to register before the 31st October 2010. Completed Sketchbooks will be given a new home at The Brooklyn Art Library and toured as part of a massive exhibition set to take place in 2011. More details can be found via Art House Co-Op.

      Visit Website

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