Sketchbooks are usually reserved for doodles and unformed ideas from artists, not explicitly meant for public consumption, but Brooklyn’s Sketchbook Project brings these rough drafts to the forefront with its massive library of donated draft books.
The Project began back in 2006 in Atlanta, Georgia, as founders Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker began collecting the sketchbooks from artists around the world. Growing quickly, the Sketchbook Project moved to its home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2009, taking up residence in the Brooklyn Art Library. The project continued to grow as they set up a system where artists (or anyone really), can order a blank sketchbook from the Project, and when they have finished filling it up with drawings, scrawls, experiments, and masterpieces, they can simply send the book back, and it will be catalogued and added to the library.
Today the library is home to almost 34,000 separate sketchbooks, from some 70,000 contributors in over 135 countries. And the project is not only open for people to contribute to, but also for people to browse. When they are added to the library, each sketchbook is given a unique barcode and can be identified by artist, region, or even material. Visitors can come to the library and find amazingly unique, often improvised works from artists around the globe.
The Sketchbook Library continues to collect scrawls and jots from all over the world, and shows no signs of stopping. They even have a traveling version of their library where they can exhibit and collect sketchbooks from the road.