Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Alexandra Snowdon

This week I'm featuring the sketchbooks of Alexandra Snowdon from Snowdon Design and Craft. I met Alex at the BCTF, when she and her husband visited my stand. It was strange how the conversation went, a bit of a strange coincidence, but I recognised her name when I looked at her badge.

A lady who has visited my stand on Day 1 asked if I knew someone called Alexandra Snowdon, and I said I did, as I grew up and went to school with someone of the very same name. Long story short, it wasn't my old school friend this this lady was talking about, but a designer with whose work she was very familiar, and who turned out to be chatting to me on my stand the next day!

Alex then saw my post calling for participants for my Sketchbook Peeks series on a LinkedIn group which we are both part of and she got in touch. So here, ladies and gents, is a little peek into Alex's Sketchbooks...

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

I've always been a bit arty, I loved drawing as a child and went to art college as soon as I left school. I worked for about 15 years as a graphic designer before taking a year off to travel the world. Soon after arriving back in the UK I started a part time graphic design / illustration degree, fitting it in around my full time job. It was there that I discovered my love of illustration and printmaking. I graduated with a first in 2009 and started Snowdon Design & Craft a few months later. I've developed my range of hand printed bags and cards and gained a few stockists over the last couple of years. A few weeks ago I left my day job to concentrate on my business full time and I'm loving it!

 How long have you been using sketchbooks?

Only over the last 5 years or so. I have to admit sketchbooks were a bit of an alien concept to me until I went back to uni to do my degree. All the lecturers were talking about the importance of having a sketchbook and seemed to assume that we were already using them. My uni friend  and myself went into a bit of a panic about it, we bought lots of lovely blank notebooks and were too afraid to draw anything in them in case we spoiled them!

 How often do you sketch?

At least 2 or 3 times a week, I'm always having lots of ideas that I have to sketch out straight away, otherwise I'll forget them. Usually I'll go back to them after a month or so and decide whether or not they're worth developing.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

Well I must admit I've definitely got over the 'new sketchbook fear' I had at uni. When I get a new one these days I can't wait to get started on it and always feel excited about filling the pages with new ideas.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?

I suppose I'm like a lot of people in that inspiration seems to strike when I'm least expecting it! My best ideas seem to come to me when I'm not trying too hard. I also get lots of inspiration from flicking through magazines, reading creative blogs, going to my favourite bookshop (Magma) in Manchester and travelling.

How would you describe your creative process?

I always develop the ideas that I feel most excited about. If I get that tingly feeling in the pit of my stomach I know I'm onto something good! I start off doing a pencil sketch and develop it from there into a black and white pen and ink drawing. Once the final piece is finished I scan it and then make make small adjustments to it on my computer. The design is then put onto a silk screen, ready to be printed onto cards and bags.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?

They have evolved, but in a backwards kind of way! When I look at my earlier sketchbooks they are filled with neat illustrations and hand lettered words that look almost finished. As the years have gone by however, they have become much messier and more 'sketchy'. I think it's true that the more ideas you have, the more will come to you, so nowadays I tend to use my sketchbooks to jot down ideas when I'm out and about rather than as something to practice my drawing and lettering skills in.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

Pen and ink for sure. I seem to have developed a style that works well with just one colour and I quite enjoy the challenge of that. I always draw in black and white and have a huge collection of fine liner pens with different nib sizes. My finished screen prints can of course be any colour of ink, but I love the impact and boldness of single colour designs.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?

Content wise, I think the sketchbook I had in my final year of uni is my favourite as it's easy to see how my illustration skills developed. It was like I suddenly discovered, after years of working on a computer, I could still actually draw! In terms of the sketchbooks themselves my current one is my favourite, my friend persuaded me to buy it, even though I really didn't need a new one at the time. The pages are made from brown kraft paper, it's really thick and chunky,  and just so lovely to use.

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?

The page where I sketched my hand and foot and was overwhelmingly shocked and excited to see that the drawings actually resembled the real thing. My tutor at uni was great, he encouraged me to concentrate on illustration and told me to just draw anything and everything as often as I could. I was laid up at home with a chest infection a few days later, that's when I decided to pick up my sketch book and draw my hand and foot. I loved it so much I spent the rest of the morning drawing almost every object in the living room, the hours just flew by!

Well, I'd like to say thanks to Alex for taking part in this weeks Sketchbook Peeks series and showing us her inspiring sketchbook pages and telling us about her creative process. If you want to ccheck out Alex's website you can click here.

Ok, that's all from me today, if anyone would like to be featured in the Sketchbook Peeks Series, please drop me a line and I'll let you know how to apply.


  1. Thanks very much for featuring me on your lovely blog Sue, I'm off to put a link to it on Facebook now! x

    1. You are very welcome, hope you get lots of new traffic to your sitex


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