Anthony Freda's Sketchbooks

By Peggy Roalf   Monday September 26, 2016

Just when I was wondering, “where are the latest DART Q&A replies,” I received a message from long-time subscriber Anthony Freda, wondering if I was still looking at sketchbooks. Ha! Problem solved—here’s what Anthony sketched and wrote:

I often write in my sketchbooks while listening to interviews on radio talk shows. I write down their thoughts in real time, hence the lousy penmanship. Some of my pages are barely legible, even to me, but they spark ideas when I refer back to them. I find that documenting the information I hear, with words and images, helps me remember and process the data. Just listening is not enough for me. 

The ultimate tool for me is a Precise V-5 extra fine roller ball pen. Ideas roll out of me as I follow them across the page. There is no resistance and an elegant line quality can be achieved if you are one with the pen. I also use pencil and ball-point pen when I don't have a V-5 on hand. Collage is a great short-hand way of putting ideas on paper.  I collage my own work from other loose pages into sketchbooks to give them a home, like the pages on the left, below.

I take a two-hour train ride to teach my class at FIT and always carry a sketchbook. I encourage my students to do the same. A small Moleskin is my favorite, though the size is a bit constraining.

To my eye, Henrich Drescher and Barron Storey are the sketchbook masters. My friend Victor Stabin has also done an amazing job of elevating the humble doodle to works of art. 

Sometimes my sketchbook images are random juxtapositions that lead me to unexpected and novel concepts. My subjects always seem to be political rather than personal, though the subjects themselves are revealing. My diary of politically charged imagery is cathartic to me so it has a practical use.

I have used concepts that were born in my sketchbook as ideas for illustration assignments. Being on top of current events and trends keeps me mentally and artistically prepared for possible commissioned work.

Anthony Freda is a Long Island-based artist who is equal parts editorial illustrator and visual political activist. Freda creates his potent and provocative illustrations with a combination of found objects and surfaces, collage and drawing—all mixed together to great effect. Freda says that he uses art “as a tool of political activism”—he has a whole section on his website labeled “political art”—and his imagery often carries a powerful message of peace and social justice".

Freda's mainstream client list includes; Time, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The New York Times and numerous other publications. His visual thought crimes find a home outside the mainstream at places like Code Pink, Activist Post, Washington’s Blog, Global Research and Cindy Sheehan’s The Soapbox. He also creates a weekly political graphic for The Trends Journal, aptly called The Weekly Freda.