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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers
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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  10,228 ratings  ·  100 reviews
'An Illustrated Life' provides a peek into the personal world of talented artists, designers and illustrators.
Paperback, 266 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Northlight
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If I were smart, I would start a business making spiral-bound sketchbooks with high-quality paper for artists. A frequent complaint among artists in this book is that it’s impossible to find really good, useful sketchbooks. Many make their own by selecting paper and having them custom bound. There’s goldmine here, but I’m just too lazy to dig it.

The sketchbooks in An Illustrated Life are gorgeous, inviting, varied and worthwhile. The interviews, however, are not entirely impressive. They definit
It is always interesting to me to see how other artist's think and work and there is no better way to do that than to be allowed to peer into their sketch journals. This book is an invitation to do that. I just wish the artists that were chosen were a little more interesting. That being said, there are some real gems in here, like James Jean, Bryce Wymer and of course, Robert Crumb. I actually bought this and I almost wish I would have just gotten it from the library. It was definitely worth a p ...more
I wasn't going to buy or read this book. I thought that a compilation of several artist's work would be somewhat chaotic. I knew too, that not all the styles of journalling or sketching/drawing would appeal to me, and I thought there would be more of the unappealing genres that I could not justify getting the book. When favourable reviews started coming through from friends and artists on the internet I was impressed enough to want to look at the book and decide for myself. I had to wait until i ...more
Rachel Kopel
I am a great fan of Danny Gregory, but I was somewhat disappointed by this eagerly awaited book. While there are some really lovely examples, such as those of Jane LaFazio and Gay Kreger, and a few others, mostly women, I found that too many of the sketchbooks were simply ugly juvenile cartoons, mostly by men. I had the desire to use sticky notes and calculate how many were illustrations and how many these cartoons and how many by men and how many by women. And I decided I really didnt want to s ...more
I bought An Illustrated Life initially thinking I was going to plow right through. To me, it's much better in small doses. With as many varying personalities, ideas and "art," it was a little daunting to continually read for longer than 15 minutes. The more I read at one sitting the more the people in the book would blend into one another. I guess I have a really short attention span. Either that, or can't handle the idea of being jolted from one artist to the next. Once I started to get into an ...more
This book is very inspiring. It is true that it is not purely a Danny Gregory book, but as long as you don't go into the book thinking it is going to be purely Danny, it's a wonderful read. I loved having a book full of all these artists and pages of their sketchbooks. I also like that we get to read the artists' thoughts and ideas about their own art and sketchbooks.

I like to flip through this book and read in small sections. I did read the whole thing though, but in small segments so I could
Sherry (sethurner)
I'm a big fan of Danny Gregory, a real cheerleader encouraging people to stop being so hard on themselves and get out there and sketch. His previous books, Creative License and Everyday Matters have inspired hundreds of folks. This book is different. It's a collection of sketchbooks from illustrators, everyone from R. Crumb to a French teacher in New Jersey. There is an interview and a selection of pages from that person's sketch books. It's a beautiful and inspiring collection. My only gripe is ...more
I wonderful little book about the sketchbooks of artists and writers many of us love. It's fatal flaw however is the lack of humility it gives the subject matter as the author treats each subject as if they sketchbooks are sacred texts. The reality that most won't admit is that these works were created to show people, and those that weren't won't be seen. Artists are fickle and vain and very strategic in the way they let people view their work especially their notebooks. Where this book succeeds ...more
Not a book to pick up and read, but more for perusing, to read an interview at a time. A good source of inspiration, especially for those who like to peek into the more secret lives of artists.

A bit of a downer in a sense that almost all of these sketchbooks are amazing on their own - seems that many artists suffer from a perfectionist predilection for making everything look good all the time. It was refreshing to see the few sketchbooks that were kind of crappy (LIKE MINE).
Redshirt Knitting
If you like looking through other artists' sketchbooks, then this is the book for you. 266 pages, 50 artists, sketches and text - wonderful!

I'm actually still working my way through it, because I can only pore over two or three artists at a time before I have to set the book down and think over it for a while.
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Michelle Young
I love seeing people's illustrated journals! My favorites are the ink sketches of cityscapes with splashes of watercolor. Also the ones that look like they're from children's picture books. Wish I could draw like that...
Apr 15, 2011 Enid rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
A great collection of pages from artiists' sketchbooks. it was interesting to not only see some pages but to read about how and where they use their sketchbook. very nice!
May 18, 2008 Kay marked it as to-read
Shelves: art, non-fiction
I've been listening to Danny's podcast, in which he interviews different artists featured in this book. It's got me very excited for the book's publication.
Kevin de Ataíde
A decent coffee-table sized book with drawing inspiration for sketchbook journalism, which I consider to be a good way of developing skills in draghtsmanship, while building a very personal and even light-hearted approach to life in general. Most of the drawings on display here look terrible by my own standards of realism), but then most of these sketchbooks are private and not finished works of art. And that's the whole point of the exercise, as the various artists agree. There are some excelle ...more
An Illustrated Life
(More pictures at

When I was searching for information about the book, I found a lot of positive reviews. And I really mean A LOT. It's one thing that a book is well liked. It's another when it's so well liked people are actually talking about it.

An Illustrated Life is a compilation of sketchbook pages from 50 illustrators all over the world. Each journal is packed with sketches, captions and a narrative as the artist talks about his sketchbook. At 266 pages, some of the scans ar
liberal sprinkles
What a fantastic gallery this book is. It displays lots of sketches from 50 illustrators, designers and artists and an introduction (sometimes over a few pages) to each of them, their work, why and how they sketch and titbits like which pens they use. What I especially like is that so many different artistic styles are represented: drawings, paintings, illustrations, doodles, comics and mixed-media art journal pages. The subjects include everything from landscapes and scenes to lists and records ...more
May 15, 2009 JayeL rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
Danny Gregory has been recommended to me many times, especially by Amy of the Creative Mom podcast, a very creative and high quality podcast. I bought the book she uses as her bible (it sounds like), The Creative License after I had reserved An Illustrated Life at the library. Of course I received them all the same week. I think that this book will be similar to the one I loved by the Jennifer New, Drawing From Life: The Journal as Art, but I will let you know after I have given it a thorough go ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Corinne marked it as abandoned
I probably shouldn't of bought this book. I don't know what I was thinking. I was in some mood that passed. I really didn't sit and read so I won't rate it. I just started looking at the pictures and that isn't really what it's purpose is. If I wanted to just do that I could of gotten one of the many books of art.

I appreciate that the artists gave us a glimpse of themselves and their sketches. I'm sorry that I lost interest. I passed the book on to the swap shop.

Jwls Mac Ray
I enjoyed reading about the various artists and how they kept their sketchbooks, journals, travel logs, etc. over the years. I had diaries growing up but never thought about adding sketches to it. I wish I had now. Granted my drawings would have been mostly landscapes because I am not that good at drawing people. Like the artists said, the journals are for learning and remembering. It doesn't matter if they are excellent, only matters that you enjoy drawing them. There are many times I am watchi ...more
I spotted this on the reserve room shelves and had to OhioLINK it for myself. I'm keeping it on the to-read list in the (somewhat futile) hope that I'll come back for it and read it more closely. Sketchbooks are always inspiring, and these are some great ones. The only name I recognize is James Jean (of Fables covers fame).

I can always use the reminder that a sketchbook is a place of no rules. "The pages of this book are filled with doorways to private worlds, drawn and written to record impres
Kate  Powell
Excellent group of journalers talking about what they do and why they do it and what interests them about the whole shebang. Love this book, going back through it.
I kept this one by the bedside and from time to time I would browse an artist or two before turning out the light. I found it pleasantly relaxing to unwind to small works of art from so many different and varied artists with so many different styles.

As inspirational as the book is, and as much as it makes me want to do the same—I do carry around a moleskine for sketching—I find that I rarely actually accomplish any sketches. Which is too bad, I think.

But the book is great and makes very enjoyabl
Elizabeth Boltuc
Very inspirational. Loved the examples of different artist's work and the stories behind them. I am just getting started in visual journaling and found this book very helpful in deciding on the path I want to take.
Zelly B.
Jul 15, 2010 Zelly B. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists, illustrators, art-enthusiasts
Shelves: art-books
An excellent book, full of inspiring commentary and of course: images. I found it particularly inspiring to see how so many artists could have such diverse ways of keeping sketchbooks, from the book they choose (I've noted a lot of Moleskine popularity here), the materials they used, the times they chose to sketch, and the subjects they chose to draw.

This book is really great to show that anyone can sketch - from the professionals with backgrounds in art and illustration, to those who are more s
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I just can't get enough of other artists' sketchbooks--it's like reality TV for creative types but, in my opinion, of a superior quality. It's amazing to get this glimpse of so many different artists and the varying styles, media, approaches, and philosophies of their private art journals. One thing they all mentioned was that they love the "bookness" of sketchbooks and I wholeheartedly agree, of course.

This book is inspirational in a practical way - I opened my own sketchbook at several points
I really, really enjoy reading this. It's probably one of the best art books I own, because it does exactly what I bought it for: makes me want to draw. I try to get books that are varied, inspiring, with lots of words as well as pictures. The goal is I should be able to flip through only a few pages before I want to rush back to my own artwork. An Illustrated Life does exactly that. I can look at the illustrations of two or three artists, or read the full interview of just one, and I'm craving ...more
Very inspiring, still using to learn.
was hoping for more secret stuff. but also i didn't have any projections or ideas about the artists, illustrators and designers that were shown, so there was no big reveal or scandal when viewing the drawing inspiration.

probably the most interesting drawing inspirations are the ones that i do for myself and others mostly would find those pages to be without context and uninspiring.

nevertheless, what is inspiring is to have ideas, borrowed or created, to look to and keep for reference: a collecti
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An Illustrated Life 1 22 Jun 21, 2009 07:42AM  
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