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An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  21,405 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Find Insight and Inspiration for Your Creative Life

An artist's journal is packed with sketches and captions; some rough, some polished. The margins sometimes spill over with hurriedly scrawled shopping lists and phone numbers. The cover may be travel-worn and the pages warped from watercolors. Open the book, and raw creativity seeps from each color and line. The intimacy a
Paperback, 266 pages
Published December 16th 2008 by HOW Books (first published December 8th 2008)
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3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,405 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Danny Gregory curated this collection of excerpts from various artists’ journals, artists from all over the world. We got insights into the artists as they share their art, their sketches, their works in progress, their thinking on the page in visual form. So everyone does it differently, of course. It’s mixed media, it’s collage, it’s visual playground. Oh, and it’s from these artists on the road, too, done while traveling, so it’s a view of places, too, on how to convery their experience of pl ...more
Feb 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-books
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
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
3.5 stars. Good look at the journals/sketchbooks of 50 different artistically minded people, including (in their own words) how long they've been keeping a journal, why they keep up the habit, and their preferred materials.
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Will Simpson
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is great. The reason I rated it a 4 rather then a 5 is because it seemed full of professional designers who were in a ways showing off. All the jounalers seemed to responding to a questionnaire in the text which got old and predictable. A couple of nuggets I got were, alternative styles of drawing are from reality and from imagination. One requires drawing in public, in the wild and the other is more private and is usually done in the studio. Cartooning or telling a story in frames is ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-books
It's a relief that even many of these very talented artists are afraid of a blank page!
Douglas Gorney
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hard to really ever say you've "Read" this kind of book, as it's the sort of thing you keep picking up, leafing through and finding new things in.

Maybe it has something to do with the coming of age of the graphic novel, maybe it's that it's a tactile, analog antidote to our digital moment, but the sketchbook has graduated from a preparatory medium to finished art object. There's even a museum devoted to them (the Sketchbook Project collection in the Brooklyn Art Library).

If like me you are eno
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sherry (sethurner)
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, nonfiction
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
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
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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).
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: art
It’s interesting to see how each artist views the sketchbook as a medium. The texts are explanations by each artist of how they work and why they keep a sketchbook. Some aren’t that interesting, but it works as a glimpse into a wide array of creative minds.
It made me want to start my own sketchbook.
Redshirt Knitting
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, to-buy, art
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 rated it really liked it
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 marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction, art
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.
Luis Molina
Nov 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book is not good really boring for me
Swenja Camphausen
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought „An Illustrated Life“ because of the cover and I wasn't disappointed!
It can be used as workbook, for inspiration or just to make yourself happy while flipping through.
It’s not a book you read in one piece , but to have a look in it, if you get stuck in your creative progress.
The quality of the prints is first-class. I really enjoy just watching them and see the differences between the artists!
Every artist starts with a short biography.
You get a glimpse to the creative imaginations o
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, non-fiction, yr-2014
I guess I shouldn't of bought this book. I don't know what I was thinking. I was in some mood that passed. Probably looking for a peek behind the curtain of artists. 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.

I liked Melanie Ford Wil
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Found this at the library and I just love it. I've been trying to figure out how to be creative in my life, how to make some kind of art and this book was totally inspirational. You get a peak into the illustrated journals of many artists. I love looking at quirky drawings and reading about how the artists approach informal sketching that's really only for them was very interesting.
Jamie Leach
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I loved this book! I have always dabbled in artistic endeavors, but never kept a sketch I do. I loved seeing all the different styles and reading over and over that you should just draw and not stress over it too much...and that it's okay to miss days and it's okay if it isn't perfect, just draw! So, I will :-) ♡ Thank you, Danny Gregory!
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Not quite what I expected, but still enjoyable at times. Lots of doodling and scribbles, which is not my favourite art form, and more or less similar texts about journaling, fear of blank pages, capturing the moment etc. Probably won't open it again.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
If I was an artist, I think it would be interesting. I read it because it was recommended as a creative resource. My artistry lies in photography. There were a few illustrations I found interesting, but most were more about people who can draw and paint.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Diane Henry
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve had this for years, but recently returned to it for inspiration, and it delivered, in spades.
Robyn Owens
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just the book I needed to inspire me to start a sketch journal. Testimonials of many artists, professionally trained as well as self-taught, and examples of their journals. Highly motivating.
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An Illustrated Life 3 29 Jul 14, 2015 07:13PM  

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