Cecilia Ruiz's Sketchbooks

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday August 30, 2017

The 2017 Summer Invitational: Pimp Your Sketchbook, in which artists show their personal work and open a window onto their creative process, continues with Cecilia Ruiz, who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

I usually buy several sketchbooks at the same time and always have very high, unrealistic goals for them. I try giving each one a different purpose based on size, format, and paper, but I end up using all of them for everything. This is the kind of content that lives in all of my sketchbooks.


I’m not one of those artists that draws constantly everywhere they go. The interaction I have with my sketchbooks is mostly triggered by the projects I am working on, so if I want to draw  “just for pleasure”, I need to force myself to do it. Now, every time I travel, I make sure I pack a sketchbook and drawing material with me. I also make sure to purposely assign a couple of hours to just draw. I’ve found that these are the perfect moments for experimenting with different mediums and formats.


One thing I’ve discovered over time is that I do better sketching small. When I know the dimensions I’ll need to work on for an editorial job or for a book I’m developing, I print out pages with small thumbnails at the right ratio. The smaller the thumbnails, the easier it is for me to figure out the totality of the piece. I then glue all of these thumbnails to my sketchbooks so that they don’t end up in the trash.


A couple of years ago, my husband and I started playing a game in which we draw cartoon characters from memory. The rules are simple: No looking at references and no erasing. The results are always hilarious and a little disturbing. 

I find it fascinating how memory works. The details we unwillingly choose to remember and the ones that (also unwillingly) get lost. This gets particularly interesting when it comes to retrieving very specific visual memories. We think we remember something, we can see it (kind of) in our heads, but the minute we start drawing, the information vanishes and the hand starts doubting. You can see more of our drawings from memoryhere.


It is often while working (as I am on the computer, as I do research, as I listen to music or a podcast) that I come up with new ideas for books or personal pieces. It might happen as a result of my procrastination, but it is in these little windows while I’m avoiding doing what I’m supposed to be doing, that my creativity finds new outlets. I draw random doodles and write down everything that I find interesting or moving— from quotes that I read in books, to ideas I hear in podcasts, to random thoughts I might have.

Later, whenever I’m feeling stuck, I go back to old sketchbooks and it is in these random moments that I find the answers I need.

Cecilia Ruiz is an author/illustrator/designer originally from Mexico City, now living and working in Brooklyn, New York.
The New York Times / Penguin Random House / Blue Rider Press / Enchanted Lion Books / Hemispheres Magazine / Life&Style Magazine / Grupo Expansión México / La Peste Magazine / Picnic Magazine / Fast Company / Mr. Boddington Studio / Shiseido / Hunter Douglas 


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now