The role of the sketchbook in creative work

Despite the dominance of digital, the humble sketchbook is still a vital tool in making creative work. Here, we speak to three creatives about how working in a sketchbook is an important part of their process and also their favourite books to work in

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but if you really want to get to know someone, especially someone who works in the creative industries, probably the best way is to take a peek through their sketchbook. 

While sketchbooks and creativity go hand in hand, the way people use them often differs with some taking scratchy notes, and others creating detailed, full-page images. To find out more about how sketchbooks can be used in creative work, we speak to Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, Parisian animator and director Alice Saey, and Uruguay-based graphic designer and archivist Gabriel Benderski to get their insights. Here they tell us how the sketchbook fits into their everyday practice, why most of them avoid doodling, plus their favourite books to use. 


Michael Bierut became partner at Pentagram’s New York Office in 1990, and over the years he has worked with a variety of clients including the New York Jets, Benetton, Walt Disney, United Airlines, The Atlantic, plus even created the logo for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. 

Cover of Michael Bierut’s notebook #100

Bierut began using sketchbooks two years after he graduated. “I can give you a very precise date: August 12, 1982. I was working for Massimo Vignelli, and I started with a 10×7 1/8 inch National Blank Book Company composition book from the supply closet of Vignelli Associates,” he says. “That was notebook number one. I am currently on notebook number 132.”