Inspiration Aesthetic Sketchbook Ideas and Inspiration


How Do You Start An Aesthetic Sketchbook? | Overcoming Your Fear Of Starting | Ideas and Inspiration

Whether you’re a professional artist with years of experience or a beginner just starting out, a sketchbook is the perfect place to get those creative juices flowing. Though it might seem daunting at first, creating an aesthetic sketchbook can actually be loads of fun. But, just like many other creatives out there, you are probably wondering where to start. Well fear not, here are some tips and tricks to make the process a little less overwhelming.

ZenART’s Sketchbooks come in two sizes – B5 (7×10″) and B6 (5×7″) and two cover design choices, Spotty Grey and Plain Grey.

Don’t be afraid of your sketchbook

Your sketchbook should be a safe place for you to explore and express your creative ideas. Free yourself from the pressure of creating something spectacular and focus more on enjoying yourself and/or growing your art skills. No art sketchbook is perfect and that is the brilliance of having one. Creativity thrives in an environment where “happy little accidents”, as Bob Ross called them, are welcomed.

aesthetic sketchbook ideas
The sketchbook featured is ZenART’s B5 Artist’s Sketchbook. Its 180° lay-flat spine makes it easy to do full spread works like the one above.

Overcome first page anxiety

The first page of a new sketchbook can be one of the most exciting, yet terrifying struggles that every artist faces. The thought that this page will set the tone and success for the pages to follow can seem quite scary. Believe it or not, this is one of the main reasons artists procrastinate or just end up not creating in their sketchbooks at all. 

aesthetic sketchbook drawings
Our in-house artist, Kathleen, doodles her name on the first page of her sketchbooks when she can’t make up her mind on what to draw/paint first. On the left is ZenART’s B5 Artist’s Sketchbook and on the right is the B6 Artist’s Sketchbook in Spotty Grey. And the cute and compact watercolor set you see is our awesome Espresso Palette!

However, the solution to first page anxiety can be as simple as planning out what your page will look like. You can do this by creating small thumbnails to test out various compositions to get an idea of what you’d want your sketchbook drawing to look like. Play around with your design and once you are happy with it, jot it down in your art sketchbook. As simple as that!

Some artists even suggest starting on page two, or for that matter, any other page in your mixed media sketchbook. Somehow this helps to overcome the mental block and pressure associated with the first page and makes it easier to start your succeeding journal sketches. You could even take random pages in your sketchbook and fill them with washes of color or snippets from magazines and books. This allows you to start creating with color and variety from the start. 

Have multiple sketchbooks

If you are going for a certain sketchbook aesthetic with a cohesive look and feel, it might be useful to have multiple sketchbooks dedicated for different purposes. Cheaper sketchbooks can be used as private art journals where anything goes and you have more creative freedom. Use these sketchbooks to jot down ideas, scribble and have fun without limits. In fact, these books can even be used to plan out the sketchbooks journals that are shared with the public. Remember, you have total control over what is shared and what is not! 

On that note, it is always handy to have a journal allocated to practicing your art skills. Use this journal to practice art fundamentals, such as composition, color theory, perspective, or light and shadows. This journal can be used to practice drawing subjects that you struggle with. Remember, practice makes progress!

art sketchbooks
B5 and B6 Artist’s Sketchbook on display, one being used for anything goes, another one for sketching, and another for drawing and jotting down ideas in. Colors from the Sereno Palette were used to paint the patterns on the hand.

Start an art journal

Many artists find it very relaxing and therapeutic to use their sketchbooks as art journals. These journals could even have a theme, such as a travel journal, a nature journal (used to study nature), or even a day-to-day journal that you always carry with you. Whatever the case, an art journal is the perfect way to stay creative.

Live studies are typically popular in art journals and can be a very interesting change of pace for you as an artist. Since there are no rules when it comes to a sketchbook, use your sketchbook as an art notebook to write about your day, combine it with poems, whatever floats your boat. Make it your own! 

journal sketches
Our B5 and B6 Artist’s Sketchbooks side by side. Notice the nicely curved edges on them, the sketchbooks’ are also edge-painted with beautiful and subtle speckled patterns.

Follow like-minded artists

On days when inspiration is low, works of other like-minded artists could spark your creative flame. Find your own tribe of artists that inspire you and purposefully scroll through their works to gather some ideas and inspiration for your next page. 

aesthetic sketchbook drawings
Here’s our very own co-founder, Ardak Kassenova, doing some plein air watercolor painting at the Kew Gardens in London. On the left is her painting of the Great Pagoda found in the said garden. Our Espresso Palette and Black Tulip brush set (shown above) are fantastic choices for art supplies to bring along when plein air painting or traveling. Follow Ardak on Instagram @ardak_zenart!

Challenge yourself

There are many trendy challenges out there to help creatives improve their artistic abilities. If you find yourself in a place where your well of creativity has dried up, partaking in art challenges could help you to not only fill the pages of your sketchbook, but also to grow your skills as an artist.  An example of one of the challenges is the 100 heads challenge created by Artist Ahmed Aldoori. The goal of this challenge is to draw 100 heads in 10 days. 

Below is the finished drawing from our How To Draw 3/4 View Face article. If you’re interested in learning how to draw faces, I suggest to start with our How To Draw A Basic Portrait. You’ll find step by step guides and illustrations showing you how the face can be simplified and tackled.

sketchbook aesthetic
Angled head study and fully rendered drawing done in our B5 Artist’s Sketchbook, the ivory white and acid-free pages ensure your works’ longevity and the paper won’t turn yellow over time.

Another very popular sketchbook challenge is the well-known Inktober, where artists around the world draw one ink sketch every day in October. Swapping your pencil for a pen can prove valuable in gaining confidence in your drawing abilities: learn to work with your mistakes and incorporate them into the final piece. 

Another useful way to challenge yourself is to practice your creativity with drawing prompts. In fact, there are even drawing prompt sketchbooks created specifically for this purpose. This takes the “what to draw” out of the equation, and the artist can now only focus on being creative.

If you feel like you’re drawing a blank, check out our Sketchbook Ideas: How To Find Inspiration For Art blog post. You might find other ideas or inspiration that’ll help spark your creative flow.

Draw every day

To get into the groove of drawing in your sketchbook, set aside 10-20 minutes of drawing time each day. This is a tip that is especially useful to overcome artist/creative block. The secret of a successful aesthetic art journal lies in drawing both on the days that you feel inspired and also on the days when inspiration is running low. 

aesthetic sketchbook ideas

Do some quick sketching of things you find around you or practice basic sketching techniques. They can keep you going even on those days when you don’t feel like it.

Make a mess in your aesthetic sketchbook

While aesthetic sketchbook drawings might feel rewarding, it shouldn’t be the sole focus as it could put a lid on your creativity. An aesthetic art journal is not necessarily a sketchbook filled with mini Van Gogh’s, but rather a journal filled with a vast variety of sketches and ideas. 

art notebook
Just have a variety of art materials on hand and have fun with whatever pops into your head. Don’t be afraid to get messy! Above you can see two of our watercolor brushes palettes – Allegro and Espresso, brushes from our Black Tulip and Fine Line collections, and our B5 Artist’s Sketchbook.

Creating a mess intentionally could help you overcome the fear of doing it accidentally. Some artists pride themselves in journals that look messy, with a variety of color schemes, mediums, and themes on each page. Some even rip and tear, splash color and scribble as ways to express their creative freedom. 

The bottom line is that your sketchbook is yours to do with what you please. You set the standard, no one else! So have a little grace with yourself and remember to enjoy the process of creating art.

We’d love to hear back from you!

What’s your biggest obstacle when starting with a new sketchbook? Do you use your sketchbook/s mainly for sketching and drawing or do you like mixing it up? What future content would you like to see from us? Let me know in the comments below! Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint! 

Here’s another interesting article we have if you’re looking for some guidance into How To Find Your Art Style. And have a great time exploring and creating your aesthetic sketchbook!


This article was written by one of our artist contributors.