Moleskines and Seahorses

I’m sitting in my room on holiday in Egypt and I’m in that weird time where I’m just about to finish (fill up) a Moleskine sketchbook and then unwrap and begin using the next one. It might seem completely looney to the uninitiated but using a Moleskine can become like an addiction for some artists. Just in case you don’t know, a Moleskine is a make of sketchbook that has a worldwide following. 

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and have a range of uses including being used as sketchbooks, field notebooks, musical notation books and even diaries. I’ve been a fan for years and I favour the medium sized book with a black cover and heavy weight paper. As I tend to use BIC biros for most of my scribblings, any notebook I use has to have robust paper as the biro can tear thinner paper and damage pages underneath.  As I travel a lot these days the Moleskine is the perfect companion to my Kindle and my Ipad mini (both in black cases). The three items together make neat little bundle that sit well together in my laptop bag or backpack. 

Over the years I’ve developed some odd, almost OCD like habits where my Moleskine is concerned. Again, you might be in the camp that finds this a little strange but I’m pretty confident I’m not the only one out there with these sorts of rituals. 

They include;

1. There can only ever be one Moleskine in operation at a time.
2. Try to sketch at least something everyday. 110 pages with a half page sketch a day (avg) gives a 6 month lifespan allowing for illness and artists depression time. Sometimes I stop sketching for weeks on end as a creative drought hits but then I return with a flood of creativity averaging out the page usage.
3. All pages must be filled up before starting a new one unless it is a sketch that warrants blank spaces or negative space to work.
It can be used for sketches, design ideas, notation, mind mapping, schematics, diagrams, maps, to do lists. As the Moleskine is an idea capture tool it is common to have drawings obliterated with notes or text scattered with sketches. 
4. Never, ever tear out a page or piece there of. Other people can use the Moleskine but their work must be highlighted or segregated in some way. 

5. Pages can be left blank but must be returned to before changing.

6. On text pages that are lists or todo’s the text must be scribbled through as complete.
7. Only black BIC crystal Biro or soft grips to be used. This is only an advisory as the occasional use of Pencils or Aquarils would be deemed permissible.   

See, I told you they were odd! I don’t really talk about these rules and I certainly don’t follow them to the letter but it’s nice to have a set of guidelines to aspire to.  In real terms the Moleskine for me is a mobile idea generation and capture device. 

I still use all sorts of sketchpads, canvasses, bristol board, cardboard etc. I often get struck with ideas at the strangest times and I’ve grown accustomed to jotting or scribbling them down in the Moleskine and then working on either digitally or on one of the other paper based mediums at a later date.  I have tried to do this digitally on the IPad and more recently on the IPad Mini but I can’t seem to turn that into a habit. For one thing I quickly found that a full size IPad was far too big for my needs. No better than having my mac book pro really. I tried the google Nexus 7 for a while which I did like but the clash of google and apple worlds became a niggle for me. The Nexus 7 is a perfect size for my needs (perfect match to the Moleskine) so with the advent of the IPad Mini I once again tried to go digital for my ideas capture. I tried using apps like Paper, Layers, Brushes, Sketchclub, Sketchbook Pro and  even more text based solutions like Pages, Wunderlist, Things and ToDo (Toodledo). All had their merits but none could match the ease of use that I get from the good old Molskine.  I do still sketch on the IPad mini and I do use a todo list and a mind mapper app but no where near as much as my trusted, analogue, paper based Moleskine! 

This week I got one of the many unusual requests that pop into my mailbox with increasing regularity. This particular request came from a lovely guy in Switzerland who was inquiring if I could design and 3D print a feeding station for his Sea horses. There was already a design freely available from the Makerbot site (thing inverse) but I always like to design and build my own solutions to a problem. So where does a little project like this begin life? Of course, the trusty Moleskine. Before ever firing up Cinema4D or 3DSMax well before turning to Makerware and the Replicator2 I whip out my little back book and coax out the first ideas.