An interesting sketchbook project instigated by IGI member Steve Doogan is continuing to make its merry way through the vagaries of the Irish postal service (only two lost so far!) as we hit 2008. We had a chat with Steve about his project…
The Sketchbook Project came about because of a chat between myself and Kevin McSherry over too much coffee one day. We were bemoaning the occasional stagnation of the local scene and how hard it can be to find clued-up clients who would let us show off a little and stretch ourselves creatively, but also how tough it can be to stay motivated and productive in the face of such apparent commercial indifference. So it seemed a good idea to do something for ourselves, something that dispensed with commercial pressures while giving illustrators a space to make work that was personal, loosely themed and hopefully of interest to each other. Hence the Sketchbooks.
The idea is simple:
Eight sketchbooks, each on a different theme (The City / The Body / Dream Diary / Menagerie / Once Upon A Time / Roy of the Robots / And Another Thing / I Read The News Today).
Each book is posted to 36 illustrators who make their contribution (by working directly into the books or pasting work in) then post it on to the next person on the list. Each book comes with a pack of stamps and addresses. The mailing list is randomised to avoid someone receiving two books at the same time.
All books eventually go to all 36 participants, and when the books are finished, they’re posted back to me.
Most of the participants are members of the IGI, but we have some terrific people from all over Ireland. The main thing was to invite as many talented people as possible. When the idea was first suggested, we had about ten interested, but it soon snowballed to 36. The IGI covered the costs, which is great.
People have responded to it in different ways: some prefer to keep it loose and simple, others have put a lot more time and detail into it. I think both are fine. This is an open-ended experiment; there isn’t a “right” response. All we hope for is a little commitment and enthusiasm. It’s tempting to wish for eight wonderfully illustrated meisterwerks that we can all marvel at, but everyone should feel free to do their own thing.
It’s impossible to know when it might be finished. Hopefully, members will do their best to keep the books moving along quickly, but I suppose time will tell. If the pace picks up we can look forward to an exhibition at the end of next summer. If the work merits it, and I expect it to, we may get some sort of a publication at the end of it.
As for the books, they’ll form the basis of what we’re tentatively referring to as the Archive: an evolving, commonly-held collection of work produced from future collaborations and individual contributions. So watch this space.
Follow the project on Flickr here.