Today DART launches the 2016 Summer Invitational: Pimp Your Sketchbooks, in which artists show their personal work and open a window onto their artistic process. We begin with Chris Sharp, who lives and works in New York City and loves to travel.
I've been working with sketchbooks since 1983. I was mostly using them as a pictorial diary to record my daily life. They helped me relax and I got to experiment and not worry about the finished look like I did when I was being hired for a specific assignments. They also helped alleviate boredom! One of my favorite things to do with my sketchbooks is to travel with them.
In 1989 I made my first travel sketchbook. I bought a metal watercolor case, filled it with a set of small tubes of Winsor & Newton paints, a set of colored pencils and headed down to Venezuela. I still work out of that metal case today. Anyhow, I noticed memories of my trips are more intense when I look at the paintings compared to the photographs I was taking. The sketches were actually truer memories of the temperature, smells and sounds of the place. I became hooked on this type of sketchbook experience and started traveling alone regularly with my watercolors in tow. I now have bookshelves filled with them, where I often peruse, remembering the times, events and places.
Funny enough, after a few long trips though Europe and India I began to actually show my sketchbooks to ad agencies and editorial art directors. All of the sudden, I started to get work in that sketchbook style, which was completely different from the assignment work I normally had been hired to do. Now, I often approach editorial assignments as if I am working from a sketchbook.
I've had some wonderful assignments where I have used the pages from my sketchbooks as finishes. One of my favorite assignments was for the launch of a surf brand, where I went on the surfing trips with the sponsored team and sketched and painted the action along the way. All of that work was used by the art director for the brand book and the product catalogues. Interestingly, because I was able to capture so much movement, they asked me to turn some of the watercolors into animations they used in the company surf videos. More recently, among other things, I've been selling my sketchbook paintings as fine artwork too.
All in all, sketching has brought me such great pleasure and I plan to carry on documenting the world for the rest of my life.