Monday, 6 August 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Cara Holland

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

My name is Cara Holland and I'm a graphic recorder, illustrator and, more recently, aspiring surface pattern designer. I've always drawn and have a lot of happy memories from childhood of sitting at the dinner table with a drawing book and a pack of felt tips. At 16 I did a diploma in art and design specialising in textiles, and then lost my way in the world of ‘serious’ work for the next fifteen years. Six years ago I gave in to the need to live a more creative life and set up my own company called Graphic Change, which provides graphic recording services. Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of graphic recording, it's still quite new as a field of work. Basically I get hired by companies to draw the content of their meetings or events, as they happen, to create a visual record of the key messages. I also train people to work more visually in their own work. I love what I do and have had lots of success. Recently though I have started to explore other sides of my creativity with surface pattern design and I am finding it an exciting return to my roots. You can have a look here

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
In one form or another I've always sketched since I started using sketchbooks as a teenager. I'm very undisciplined though and am always misplacing them and starting a new one!

How often do you sketch?
At the moment I probably sketch most days as I'm working on new pattern designs, though often not in a sketchbook. I sketch for different purposes. For pleasure I always sketch when I'm on holiday, at an exhibition or travelling, and I love sketching on trains. For work I take sketch notes, sketch in preparation for a job or sketch new designs.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
I love good stationery, so buying a new sketchbook is exciting. Starting a new book is a tiny bit sad though. It often means I've mislaid my last one! Or at best when I've filled one up it's a bit like leaving an old friend, there is something comforting about having all of those drawings and memories in your hand that a fresh book can't compete with.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
What I see usually inspires me. A lot of my travel sketches are architectural; a lot of my train sketches are people and in between is a lot of random stuff. The other night while watching a film I sat and sketched objects that stood out to me as the film happened. It really could be anything.

How would you describe your creative process?
As a surface pattern designer my creative process is quite impulsive. I tend to have an idea and want to sketch it straight away. I usually do several versions and keep sketching whatever comes into my head sparked by the first idea. I then leave it and move on. When I have an idea for a collection I then revisit my sketches and see what I have to build upon into a more considered piece. I’m still learning, so I imagine it will evolve over time. When I sketch for graphic recording I usually pick a word or a theme and just sketch around that.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
When I look at my first 'proper' sketchbook from when I was sixteen and compare it to today I would say I'm a bit freer, with less of a need to complete. I've also stopped using biro as much and now mostly use fibre tipped pens. Apart from that they're not as different as I might have thought

What is your favourite medium to work with?
 Fibre tip pen. Any colour, I’m not fussy. Sometimes pencil but not as often.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
Not really. Usually I’m sentimental of sketches rather than the books they’re in. As for a favourite type of sketchbook I have several. Currently I have a little soft moleskin in my bag that I have customised with one of my designs, an A4 ring bound on my desk and an A3 ring bound which I use for progressing pattern ideas.

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
 I’m usually quite excited about whatever I’m working on right now. At the moment I’m working on a new collection, so I am busy sketching design details for that which is a lot of fun.

Thanks to Cara for showing us her sketchbooks and giving us a great insight into Graphic Recording. You can viisit Cara's website here where you can find links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


  1. This was a great write up cara!! Loved to know this bit about you and graphic recording. The sketches are inspiring and fabulous. Loved the milk carton!

  2. Love! I really enjoy reading and seeing everyones creative process...especially when I get a sneak peek into their sketchbook:) Great interview. julie


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