Travel Far, Pay No Fare with the Sketchbook Project - Atlas Obscura

Travel Far, Pay No Fare with the Sketchbook Project


The 2013 edition of the roving Sketchbook Project kicked off last week at the Brooklyn Art Library, and is now traveling around the United States with around 4,500 art books, all available to investigate for free. Each one was crowd-sourced and created by a different artist and rides aboard a mobile library in a specially designed 16-foot trailer. I stopped by the launch party and explored some of the roaming library’s volumes.

article-imageSketchbook illustrated by Carey Simpson

article-imageLibrary card and a couple of sketchbooks

When visiting the Sketchbook Project, you can, while there, “check out” books like a traditional library. By selecting a criteria, like, say, “Creatures,” you will get a couple of books to flip through on that theme. (You can also search by mood, location, and other labels.) I got to glimpse the beautiful illustrations of South Africa by Carey Simpson, and a book of creatures with interesting noses by Leslie Agnello-Dean in Chicago. Some books are incredibly detailed and dense with personal information or pop-outs, others are more quiet with soft pencil drawings. Each is an intimate look into the mind of another person, briefly paging through their stories. 


The first stop for the Sketchbook Project after Brooklyn is Austin this weekend, and it will then travel to Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. (The complete schedule is here.) If the Sketchbook Project 2013 tour isn’t coming to your city, you can still access a digital library online stocked with thousands of volumes. And if you want to participate, the 2014 Sketchbook Project is already taking submissions. All of the books become part of the permanent Sketchbook Project collection (housed at the Brooklyn Art Library), an ever-evolving resource on visual expressions from around the world.