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The Sketchbook Project: Transforming a Library into a Successful Business

The Sketchbook Project: Transforming a Library into a Successful Business

For the past decade, the libraries we knew as children with the Dewy Decimal System and the Card Catalogue have been approaching the brink of extinction. We live in an era where the Kindle and the iPad challenge the need for physical books, and libraries and bookstores face the daunting task of attracting the readers’ attention just to stay in business.

From the sketchbook of, Kelcey Beardsley Portland, OR, United States | "Things found on restaurant napkins"

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Granted, those who are surviving have found some sort of niche to keep the interest going. For example, the bookstore Barnes & Noble has always had a sort of coffee-house atmosphere where people actually go to enjoy an experience. Amazon.com, already online and a threat to physical bookstores, quickly became a source for digital media along with its physical media. So, how about the local library? What has changed to keep it in the running?

From the sketchbook of, Kelcey Beardsley Portland, OR, United States | "Things found on restaurant napkins"

The Brooklyn Art Library is not exactly a traditional library, but more of a co-op gallery. It does provide a library-type experience, but with so much more. The library acts as a physical extension of Art House Co-op, a library featuring artistic talent from around the globe encompassed in sketchbooks.

Folding Sketchbooks - source

Art House opened its doors in December of 2006 initially as a pay-to-play gallery, but it didn’t do so hot. Scrounging for ideas to keep the business going, the co-op started the first ever, “A Million Little Pictures,” meaning a million photographs and one cross-country exhibition.

“A Million Little Pictures is a community-supported exhibition of snapshots captured around the world. By joining together thousands of specific moments to create a single immersive environment, A Million Little Pictures imagines a communal story from the images of our lives.” - arthousecoop.com (A Million Little Pictures)

The exhibition did okay, but it didn’t help fully support Art House’s gallery. The one thing it did do was give birth to idea of “The Sketchbook Project”—a traveling library of artists’ journals that is open to anyone around the world. The Art House gallery has had three locations and finally resides in Brooklyn, NY, as the Brooklyn Art Gallery—the home of many sketchbooks from around the World.

Art House Co-op & The Library

The library acts as the physical extension of Art House and is home to the Sketchbook Project. The walls are lined with shelves of sketchbooks from The Sketchbook Project. Visitors can check out a pile of books or simply peruse sketchbooks from around the globe. How amazing it must be to sift through so many varied mediums and talent.

The Brooklyn Art Library

Sketchbooks are individually catalogued and bar-coded so that they can easily be found (by artist name, location and theme). Authors can also choose to have their books digitalized, which means they are scanned and become available online at the Art House Co-Op online in their Digital Library.

The physical library is also a storefront for, you guessed it, sketchbooks, notebooks, art supplies, stationary and vintage trinkets.

From the sketchbook of, Jackie Mangione Williston, VT, United States | Storybook

The library’s purpose is to connect artists from all over the world and encourage the Art House community to interact with one another face-to-face, while showcasing members’ artwork to the local Brooklyn audience. The library hosts readings, discussions, workshops and performances. (source)

A West Coast US location may be opening up in the San Francisco area. Participants in the 2012 exhibition would be included in the launch of the West Coast hub.

The Sketchbook Project

When you sign up for participation in The Sketchbook Project you will get to pick from 40 themes. Themes are there to give you a little boost in the creative direction of your sketchbook and are not restricted to any specific rules. Basic participation costs $25 (USD). This gets you a sketchbook and helps in the expense of the entire project overall. Other optional expenses include requesting that your book be scanned for online viewing ($20 USD) and/or a Sketchbook Project t-shirt ($20).

From the sketchbook of, Gení§ay Aytekin Istanbul, Fatih, Turkey | 

From the sketchbook of, Jackie Mangione Williston, VT, United States | Storybook

I signed up for the Category, Monochromatic and plan to either stick with a single color in many different mediums to create my sketchbook artwork as a whole or use a different hue in single color creations for each page. I am considering a way to incorporate COLOURlovers color swatches.

From the sketchbook of, Jane Kim Los Angeles, CA, United States | Coffee & Cigarettes

Unique Folded Sketchbook - source

Take note that these sketchbooks are not restricted to the format of a regular book either. Creative foldouts, popouts and any type of mixed media is acceptable with a warning to adhere things strongly since these will be handled and viewed from people all over the world. Your book will be well traveled.


What a great outlet to work on your creative style and promote your name as a creative individual be it Graphic Design, Illustrative Design, Mixed Media Artist and any type of singular art such as drawing, sketching, painting, inking, stamping and so on. I am looking forward to participating and experimenting in varied mediums.


Apparently themes fill up fast with over 10,000 people in participation. You must sign up no later than October 31, 2011 in order to participate for the 2012 exhibition. Deadline to turn in your finished sketchbook is January 31, 2012 (postmarked by) and the Tour starts in April 2012.

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Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

Hi, I’m Sarai, and I want to share a little style and sewing challenge that I’ll bet many of you will be interested in.

First, let me introduce myself. I am the designer and founder behind Colette Patterns, a boutique sewing pattern company. I also write the sewing blog The Coletterie and have a forthcoming sewing book, The Colette Sewing Handbook.

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One of the reasons I started a sewing pattern business is that I love the idea of investing our everyday lives with creativity, making conscious and creative decisions about how to dress rather than feeling overwhelmed by the push of fast fashion and cheap, disposable goods.

To that end, I came up with a fun way for sewists to get their creative juices flowing, by challenging my readers to create a seasonal mini-wardrobe based on an inspiring color palette. We now host palette challenges in the Spring and Fall, and it’s always fun to see what amazing projects people come up with.


The logistics are simple: You create a moodboard and color palette that is inspiring you for the season. Then you choose the number of projects to sew in an 8 week time period, based on your color palette. In the end, you (hopefully) have a coordinated mini-wardrobe.

You can use any patterns, any fabric. The idea is just to focus your sewing around the colors that inspire and excite you.


For my Fall palette this year, I chose sunset hues of mustard-gold, pumpkin, and red punctuated with black and ivory. Here’s what I’ve made so far:

WEEK 1: Lonsdale Dress


This late-summer dress is my transition piece, I suppose. The pattern is the Sewaholic Lonsdale dress, and the fabric is a beautiful Italian cotton.

WEEK 2: Clover Pant


Last week, I made these slim cigarette pants from my new Clover sewing pattern. The fabric is a mustard wool blend, underlined in cotton twill.

WEEK 3: Chevrons + Clover

And finally, my latest outfit is a second pair of clover pants in black velveteen, paired with a cotton/silk version of the (free) Sorbetto top pattern.

You can still join up!

If you’re interested in trying out your own palette challenge, you can read more details here on the Coletterie (blog).

Get a re-cap or see even more inspiration from our sewing challenges here in the SEWING CHALLENGES section (includes Spring 2011 + the current Fall Challenge underway).

Image credits for my moodboards: vintage mustard wool skirt from Dear Golden1930s crepe dress from thirteeneightyfiveimage via junebugweddingsthe character Joy from Mad Menorange dress by Erin Fetherston via Style.comred dress by Marc Jacobs Fall 2004 via Style.comOrla Kiely cookbookimage via ginnyandjudes Etsy shop


From the Forums

In the Forums we invite all those doing the challenge to post their inspiration boards, color palettes and anything to do with the challenge. It's amazing where some people draw their color inspiration from!

Outer Space Inspiration by "sweetjane"

"I decided to draw my color inspiration from outer space, since I'm a huge nerd & I associate fall with stargazing on brisk September/October/November evenings. (this particular photo is the Horsehead Nebula... I really like the muted almost-autumnal glow of all the colors. My palette could use a little work, but it's pretty close to what I'm going for.)" - sweetjane

Nature Board by "julie s"

Emralds by ginnie.wise

Creme + Orange by michaelannn

Muted Orange + Reds by Chance Of Rain

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Striped Sock Design Contest with Betabrand... 30 Finalists -Go Vote!

Striped Sock Design Contest with Betabrand... 30 Finalists -Go Vote!

Pitter patter I hear a lot of palettes waiting to be worn on your feet! We recieved over 2,000 entries in the Betabrand Striped Sock Design Contest! Here we are in the final round - 30 finalists have been determined with the highest LOVES. I can't believe only three will win?! The winning sock designs will be sold as a 3-pack and ready for the Winter holidays.

Voting ends Tuesday, September 27th at 5:00 pm Pacific. Only THREE entrants will win and you only get to vote once! Additionally, FIVE lucky voters will win a prize from the Betabrand product line! So get your bunz over there and make it count!

Also, Betabrand is giving everyone a discount code:

"StripeSaver" is good for 20% off until the end of the September.

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First Impressions Matter: From Visite Biletes & Trade Cards To The Modern-Day Business Card

First Impressions Matter: From Visite Biletes & Trade Cards To The Modern-Day Business Card

The business card: Your most powerful self-marketing tool. From basic black and white to lavish die-cut, colorful pieces of art, they all do just about the same thing—they introduce and retain your personal or business brand. In some countries they are traded with no formality while in others they are exchanged with great ritual, you probably have at least two or three in your wallet right now, they are EVERYWHERE! Probably the single most used marketing tool in the world today, the business card has been utilized for centuries as a means of introducing oneself. So, how did this simple rectangular piece of paper come to infiltrate the business culture of today? (source)

This post made possible by Next Day Flyers, the online poster printing company offering fast turnaround times and amazing prices.

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1883 Die-Cut Card (source) | (left) Die-Cut Today (source)

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Drive-By Advertising: Then and Now

Drive-By Advertising: Then and Now

Designed to catch your attention while leaving a lasting impression, billboards have an interesting place in history. From humorous to thought-provoking, they decorate our roadsides, draw-attention to our buildings, and often stick with us long after we leave them behind. So, where did these over-sized advertising tools find their start?

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(source - This is the only image available for this billboard)

Drive-by advertising has been around since the circus came to New York City in 1835. Early billboards were basically large posters attached to the sides of buildings. In 1889 the world’s first 24-panel billboard was erected, paving the way for what was to come.

McDONALDS Original painted billboard

Hand-painted billboards were created in large studios. The image was projected onto panels, outlined, and then painted on using large brushes and oil paints. After it was installed the artists would touch-up the paint where the panels came together.

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Are They Here To Stay? History, Anatomy And The Many Uses of QR Codes

Are They Here To Stay? History, Anatomy And The Many Uses of QR Codes

The Quick Response Code, better known as the QR code, has come a long way since it's start in 1994 as a tool for the automotive industry. This two-dimensional barcode was originally created for tracking vehicle parts and was ideal because it could hold a lot of information and could be read at high speeds (source).


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A basic QR code is not limited to, but generally made up of black and white square clusters, almost like a very pixelated looking vector image. It looks like a funky blob to me, but apparently it can do quite a few nifty tricks!


The Many Creative Uses of QR Codes

Because the creation of the smartphone seems to provide us with endless possibilities, it only seems natural that QR codes have become prevalent everywhere and used on everything. I've seen them used most commonly in magazine ads, mainly for website URLs or store locations. Upon scanning the QR code with my iPhone it takes me to Google Maps showing me their location nearest to me. 

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32 Minutes of the Most Colorful & Inspiring Videos
Pretty Paisley Patterns + Paisley Sampler SVGs

Pretty Paisley Patterns + Paisley Sampler SVGs

pais·ley: noun  A distinctive intricate pattern of curved, feather-shaped figures based on a pine-cone design from India. For COLOURlovers, the Paisley is a lovely lace-like motif that can be produced in any measure of design and color scheme. Like fingerprints, not one is the same.

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When I look at the Paisley, I see amoebas, tadpoles and teardrops combined with floral genius.

How often do you see a Paisley? I think it's something we see so often, might pass it by in our every day lives. The history of the Paisley I found quite interesting! Where it came from, what the word Paisley  actually means, or why they call it a Paisley at all...

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Monthly App Review: Photo Stats App will make your iPhone Photo-Life in to an Infographic!

Monthly App Review: Photo Stats App will make your iPhone Photo-Life in to an Infographic!

The business world of app development is huge. With so many tools at our fingertips, I am constantly discovering new apps. Be it for iPhone, iPad, iTouch, Android, Blackberry and so on, I'm sure you're all like me when find I would be lost without some of my favorites.

I'll be researching and picking (at random) an app I feel is worth mentioning each month. This month's selection is by Dear Future Astronaut AB and a bunch of fun so far. What initially caught my eye was their color-wheel style logo. I love the colors and layout of the finished infographic too! Very clean and fun to look at. Kudo's to the developers!

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PHOTO STATS APP - 1st Infographic Creator for iPhone.

If you use your phone to take a lot of your point-and-shoot photos, and you really like to take photos, this is definitely for you! I've recently been playing around with it and it's pretty fun! At a base, .99 - totally worth the fun.


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Tribal 2012 Swim Fashion Meets COLOURlovers Designs

Tribal 2012 Swim Fashion Meets COLOURlovers Designs

As the Summer (for most of us) comes to a close and we seep in to Fall, we take a look back at the Mercedes Miami Swim Fashion Week back in July. Noticeable neon Indian inspired Tribal Trends are seeping in to the 2012 RTW ("Ready To Wear") collections.

"From Fierce animal prints to safari suiting, spring is swinging to a tribal beat..." - Vogue.com


COLOURlovers themselves seem to be trending amongst pattern and palette designs. Take a look for yourself...

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Mara Hoffman


Mara Hoffman collaged complex patterns and playful color combinations, using cooler hues like ostrich feather green and sky blue as a base to feature rays of fluorescent warmer oranges, yellows, and pinks. Showing a flair for Egyptian patterns and colors, Hoffman cites her husband Javier Piñón’s last collection O Babalon as an influence for her tribal trend.

Dinelia Brazil & Luli Fama

Dinelia Brazil and Luli Fama chanelled their respective Brazilian and Cuban heritages, using similar heavily saturated palettes to create a modern spin on tribal lineated patterns.




Red Carter

Heavily saturated eye-popping brights are set to bleed into the next season, after being mastered this spring by fashion veterans from Haider Ackermann to Jill Sander, and Rachel Roy.  Red Carter used blocks of electric blue, lime green and flaming coral to create strong futuristic swimwear bound to turn heads.



Aqua Di Lara

On the other end of the color saturation spectrum, soft watercolors and bleeding patterns created a rainbow connection. Aqua Di Lara stayed true to its feminine style by evoking galaxy gazing, with midnight blues as a backdrop for whirls of soft pinks, mellow yellows and dewy greens.

Softer pastel prints were also channeled by White Sands Australia in Australian bushland inspired colors of soft olive, sweet peach and pale wattle yellow.  L*Space, Caffe Swimwear and A.Che also proved that pretty pops of posies on a light canvas are eternally classic.





Regardless of your penchant for neon or pastels, next Summer is set to sizzle with these colorful new trends.

All photos courtesy of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim

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