Monday, 5 March 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Debbie Greenaway

This week we are taking a peek into the Sketchbooks of printmaker and illustrator Debbie Greenaway.... now I just love these sketchbook pages, original, quirky and fun, read on for more....

1. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now

Hello all. My name is Debbie and I am an illustrator and printmaker. I have recently moved from my hometown of Huddersfield to Coventry.

I am not very good at writing about things but I will start with my grandparents who I lived with for a while when I was younger. Looking back, the time we spent together had a big influence on my future as they encouraged me from a young age to draw, paint and sew. Later, there was a period of time after school when I wondered what I would do as a career. I had a couple of different jobs and studied for an Art A-level in the evenings. After a couple of years of working, I started an Art Foundation Course in 2004 and went to University of Central Lancashire afterwards to study for a degree in illustration which I finished in 2008. At the time, I was living in Manchester which had and has a big art, handmade, crafting scene and I got involved with crafty groups and started taking part in markets/fairs. The art niggle is always there - I always wonder if it is the right thing to do but I am determined to give it a good go in 2012.

2. How long have you been using sketchbooks?
Tough question to answer. It is hard to decipher what a sketchbook is or has been to me. They have always been there in more of a learning or educational way from my gcse, a-level through to university. Lately I would say that I have been using sketchbooks as I do for the past five years or so. To add, I usually have two sketchbooks on the go – a smaller one A5 in size for the neater lion/diary drawing and a large one for the proper sketchbook drawing/working out.

3. How often do you sketch?
As often as I can - which sometimes does not feel often enough. I would say most days but there can be a few days when I don’t do any but I think about drawing! I would like to do more drawing and once I have settled in to the new house, I intend to set time aside on an evening to sit down and draw.

4. How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
I used to be daunted by the white paper and tried to keep it neat but now I just get the pencils out and start a page. I often draw from the telly when starting a new sketchbook and before long the blank page has been filled and it is then on to page two. The scariness will have gone by then.

5. When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
I like to take my sketchbook everywhere. If I don’t have a plan then I draw things I hear, see, do, dreams, random objects, people I see, books, songs/music, random objects, vehicles, clothes, inanimate objects, animals, photos for example – turns out quite like a diary page. If I have a project or idea in mind, I often start with a brainstorm or with reference books/photos.

6. How would you describe your creative process?
Often starts with a sketch, a little idea that just attracts my attention, I keep drawing and redrawing the same idea or character until it feels right. I may take a break and do something else – printing or sewing – return to see what I have put down and after some evaluation maybe add a bit of colour, maybe some enlarging and editing on the computer, back to drawing, then maybe some further computer working out texture and colour wise before it goes in to the print room to be exposed on to a screen. Some things can work out quite quickly but often it takes me ages to feel comfortable with an idea. My 2012 aim is to work quicker!

7. Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
I have seen a change in my sketchbooks – more so with the lion/diary ones and the travelling line ones. You can see how my mark making has changed and how the character has developed. In earlier sketchbooks there is a lot more writing than the recent ones.

8. What is your favourite medium to work with?
Pencil and screen-printing. I used to like using a dip pen as the line it created was sometimes unpredictable and I couldn’t rub anything out. I think it is very important to see ‘mistakes’ as these are often the best bits that I turn to, to use.

9. Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
I would say there is definitely two that stand out to me, maybe three. One of my older large sketchbooks from late 2009/2010, the A5 lion sketchbook and the large one I am currently drawing in now.

10. If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
It would have to be the science one of my husband as a lion at his work station. I like how it is quite a finished image even though it was just a doodle. He would often convince me to accompany him while he was at work doing his PhD stuff and I would be sat there for a good couple of hours – often drawing and asking science questions.

If you want to see more of Debbie's work you can check out her website here, her blog here, and also you can go shopping for Debbie Greenaway goodies on Etsy and also on Folksy. Go on, have a look!!


  1. Hi Sue, I love your sketchbook peeks. It has really reminded me to take a sketchbook with me wherever I go. Sketchbooks and pens are so reassuring to have in a handbag to rescue your fingers from boredom at a moment's notice! I wonder if you might be interested in a sketchbook I did once, a diaristic sketchbook recording images of the coastline of Great Britain as I travelled around the edge of our island for six months. Let me know x Cath (aka Busy Squirrel)

  2. Yes for definite!! I've emailed you and will send questions over x


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