Our Peek Inside… series takes a look inside people’s journals and sketchbooks to celebrate their imagination and inspire others. This week we are getting to know Anna Sokolova, an award-winning illustrator and fine artist based in Berlin who uses Paperblanks journals to capture her whimsical creations inspired by nature and fantasy.
When and why I started using Paperblanks
At some point in my art practice, I felt I needed special objects to unlock my creativity even more. I have an exceptional friend who loves all things aesthetic, and she’s been using Paperblanks for years, primarily for journaling (picking opulent medieval covers). So, the next time I went to the central bookstore, I noticed the Paperblanks stand. Suddenly there was a perfect journal with a cover by Benjamin Lacombe, one of my favorite artists. It was a perfect match!
Since that day, my collection has grown, and I have dedicated journals for planning, ideation, and sketches. I’m always waiting for the new collection; somehow, it’s pure inspiration. For example, the one with the cover by Yuko Shimizu, she’s such a wonderful illustrator. Or the journals depicting the treasures from the New York Public Library.
What aspect of Paperblanks journals appeals to me most
The quality, love for details, and cultural heritage. It warms my heart to see Paperblanks shelves with notebooks in a bookstore full of references and historical connections. Every sketchbook or planner I have has a whole world inside it. Every design tells a remarkable story; you can trace the motif and its meaning.
I adore historical fairy tales and folklore. Can you imagine how fascinated I was to discover Lang’s Fairy Books?
What has been the biggest benefit in keeping a sketchbook
Sometimes I don’t have time or don’t know what to draw. So dozens of questions appear in my head – how do I do this? … What if I try that?… How do I know when to stop?… My art style is pretty detailed, so investing time in one artwork is a considerable risk. That’s why my sketchbook is a perfectly safe place for experiments, exploration, and just artistic expression without the pressure of the result.
There are tons of advantages to keeping a sketchbook. You acquire the invaluable habit of making art on a routine basis regardless of the result. After you fill in a few sketchbooks, your creative voice will become more distinct. Your art skills will inevitably grow, and of course, you’ll feel this particular satisfaction of actually making art (not only in your head!) and bringing your ideas to life.
My advice for those who dream of having a gorgeous sketchbook full of great work
Start small! Huge beautiful sketchbooks can look intimidating and demanding. Pick a sketchbook that looks comfortable for you and start right away. If you plan to work outside it’s better to begin at home so you won’t have the fear of “spoiling” the precious paper (ah, what nonsense). Sometimes it helps to start in the middle of the sketchbook and not from the first page.
You can have as many sketchbooks as you like! I have sketchbooks that are just for me (with scribbles, ideas, and things I won’t post online) and the thematic ones – for example, dedicated to sketching flowers or urban sketching.
If you don’t know what to draw you can always join awesome online communities and challenges. For example, every year I host #INKredible_inktober during the month of October (as a tribute to Inktober started by Jake Parker). It is dedicated to drawing with ink and improving your skills regardless of your level. Ten prompts inspire the artwork, and there are some prizes too.
There are also some inspiring art communities that host regular challenges, contests, and meetings like Urban Sketchers, They Draw, Spoonflower, Mermay, and the 100 Day Project.
It’s a great way to get motivated and find support from the global art community.
If you want to see more of Anna’s work, please visit her website or her Instagram page. Make sure you check out her book Brilliant Inks, featuring a kind review of Paperblanks sketchbooks. Thanks Anna!
We are continuously looking for People of Paperblanks to feature on this series. Please send us an email if you have a project that you would like to be featured.