Cultivating Creativity: Record-Keeping for Creative Inspiration


Cultivating Creativity is an enjoyable read that offers suggestions on how to efficiently manage time, and how to maintain creative inspiration to produce stunning work. In it, author Maria Fabrizio compares the routine of upkeeping a garden to the routine of yielding high-quality designs.

Maria is a designer, illustrator and a diligent blogger. Her blog, Wordless News, features wonderful daily illustrations that provide a nice distraction from the everyday grind.

This excerpt from Cultivating Creativity focuses on the importance of record-keeping as an inspiration resource.


Chapter Three: Keeping Records

Photo albums are kept to show to show time passing on faces, in smiles, in hair color and in the evolution of relationships. They are cherished and saved. Now we exist in a more digital universe than the peel-back sticky pages from long ago, filled with Polaroids and curved corners.

Last Christmas my grandfather handed my grandmother a wrapped gift; she usually receives something very practical and sweet. When she opened the box, inside was a photo album with a piece of computer paper gently taped to the front.

The album was titled “Grannie’s Gardens.” For years, my grandfather had been taking photos of her irises, flowerpots, blooming trees and vegetable garden. He had printed each photo, in color and in various states of clarity, and placed them all into a beautiful, simple photo album. This was a gift that recorded growth, labor and care over time. The album clearly showed her skill and the weather of many seasons.

Keeping a sketchbook is much like keeping an album
 of visual memories. You can see change over time and recall what forced that change. I believe strongly in keeping a sketchbook or journal of some kind. It might not be the kind your art director friend keeps or the kind you kept in college, but taking the time and space to record thoughts and images will help you identify places to improve and provide you with leftover ideas and inspiration for the future.

teacupSketchbook Selection

In my opinion, there are many are too many options for keeping a sketchbook—I’ve tried them all. Each offers something different, and trying out different versions of record keeping will likely help you select the one best suited to your line of visual work.

Since there are so many options, here are some ways you can narrow down what might work for your needs:

  1. SIZE: Do you prefer working with a thin ink pen or pencil? Do you use an entire spread when you are working? Do you need something to hold a landscape,
 or will you just jot down doodles and notes? Do you travel a lot with your sketchbook, or does it live on your desk? Does it need to fit in your bag or purse?
  2. PAPER QUALITY: Do you use acrylics, watercolors, oil pastels or pens that tend to bleed? Do you want to be able to see what you’ve written or drawn through the paper, or would you prefer to start fresh with your image? Will you need paper that can sustain any wet medium? How many pages do you need in a sketch- book? Do you work best when you draw letterforms or think modularly on a grid? Do you paste or glue things in your sketchbook often?
  3. COVER: Do you often need a durable surface to use when drawing, or are you always at a desk or table? Do you like to write or draw on the cover of your sketchbooks, or is a textured, blank surface something you prefer?

Sketchbooks do not have to be filled with sketches. Collages, doodles, notes, quotes, blocks of color—really anything you find compelling can go in. The only constraints are ones that you impose on your own book. Just because it opens like a book and appears to have a top and bottom doesn’t mean you have to follow a typical layout. It is your own re- cord of mind and work. Make it art of its own.


Want more advice on how to best utilize your creativity? Cultivating Creativity is available for purchase in MyDesignShop.