I don’t go near Photoshop without first brainstorming and refining ideas with a pen and paper. I have to let my ideas spill out onto paper to get a real sense of the project im working on. At times these are nothing more than scribbled notes but they’re not meant to be works of art (im no Mike Rohde), just merely a way of capturing my thoughts and ideas, which i can later refine.
Before i realised my obsession with Moleskine i simply grabbed a piece of plain A4 paper and sketched. However i became tired of reaching for random bits of paper, and im now very much in favour of a paperless office. So i looked for a way to capture my creative process in a neat and unique way, and i found Moleskine. That’s exactly where my obsession began and it’s now an integral part of my design process.
Im not the only creative to have a love of Moleskine, it seems there are plenty on Twitter who share my passion for them. Below are a selection of some lovely people on Twitter who kindly took time out to share their thoughts on all things Moleskine…
- Collis Ta’eed – @collis
- John Loudon – @phoenixq
- John Kennedy – @CraicDesign
- Jon Phillips – @jophillips
- Sarah Parmenter – @sazp
- Emily Loranzo – @EmilyLozano
- Ryan Lascano – @ryanlascano
- David McDonald – @davymac
- Rob Hawkes – @robhawkes
- Joel Bradbury – @joelbradbury
- Michael Lane – @mlane
- Olwen Moseley – @jolwen
- Grace Smith – @gracesmith
My favourite task in any project is planning. Planning is the best because it has all the excitement of a job or a design but without the grind of actually carrying it all out! I keep a moleskine notebook with me pretty much all the time because planning and ideas often pop into my head at strange times and places. But in particular most days I will sit down in a cafe at some point in the day with a big cup of tea and make notes, sketch out features for one of Envato’s sites, or generally plan out where the company should be going.
Most of my notebooks are filled with lists, revenue figures, terrible drawings of what a page might look like on a site and other scribbles!
I generally use my Moleskine for tracking notes, in this case its CSS, But I have other note books following daily thoughts or weekly notes on other languages / technologies, some other ones I am looking into are Joomla and Ajax. Sadly I don’t sketch much in these as I use larger sketch books for that.
I like the feel of writing on paper, and the fact I can build up a library of my projects in physical form. Something for future generations to marvel at! Well, not quite but it’s nice to leave a physical record of your existence. Too many things are so digital and vapid – if I died tomorrow, my passwords and online accounts would mean so much of my life would be lost forever. Less morbid, I do enjoy the feel of using a nice pen (Rapiograph if possible) on paper, and the Moleskin’s have nice paper. They are nice sizes too – I like the large and small ones, and the City Guides for the places I’ve lived. I’m a bit of an addict …
The reason I use a Moleskine is I strongly believe in the ‘paperless office’ concept, and my paper consumption is down to the strict minimum, but I just couldn’t live without my Moleskine, I find it’s the perfect size to bring with me anywhere. I use it to draw sketches and mock-ups and take notes. I could use my iPod touch to take notes though, but it just doesn’t feel the same. And it looks good too
I love Pink moleskins, I have two lined and two plain however at the moment I’ve been on a few learning curves with websites that require different solutions such as Magento or Expression Engine. I have a book for each system and whenever I come across something that I know I’ll need to quick reference in the future I write it in my Moleskin. Although I’m quite familiar now with Expression Engine, there’s sometimes little gems of code that you stumble across whilst surfing the net and these go directly into my little books, same with Magento.
I’ve now built up quite a library of different ways of tackling solutions that come up time and time again when building e-commerce or expression engine websites. I’ve always found writing things down has also helped me to learn quicker anyway and having these little moleskins as backup for when I might be a bit rusty, brings it all back within minutes.
I like to use Moleskins because they’re durable and a good size. Also, I like things to match so if I need a journal for a diary, or a specific project or a specific idea they won’t all look like a hodgepodge on my desk or my shelf. They are coordinated. I use the space on the cover to paste postcard or photograph to distinguish them from each other. And the paper is very good. It takes ink, marker and colored pencil really well.
I have a small softcover moleskine that I carry around everywhere in my back pocket, because you never know when you’re going to need it! I use it when I’m out and about to jot down notes or sketch an idea inspired by something I’ve seen out in the world. Most often it serves as my weekly to-do list. I basically use it for keeping track of ideas and jotting down things that need to be remembered. This sketch shows some sketches for a logo and my to-do list for that week.
I use Moleskine notebooks because I like the materials, styling and construction of them, the paper is of high quality and accepts pen or pencil very well. Moleskines are durable and compact – they have the right look and feel for a presentable notebook that I am comfortable using in meetings. I really like the retro-styling and format (that rear pocket comes in quite handy for business cards etc.) yet they are re-assuringly serious looking for business.
Of course being a designer I’m already a sucker for cult objects, but even cult objects fall out of favour with me rapidly if they aren’t fit for purpose, Moleskine notebooks certainly don’t fall into that category. And if you get your hands on a Moleskine you’ll find that there are good reasons why cult objects become cult objects.
The reason why I love using Moleskines so much is because they look and feel top quality, all the way down to the paper and the elastic strap. I remember the first time I got a Moleskine I didn’t draw anything on the first page for fear of ruining the notebook. After a while that fear of not being worthy of the off-white pages subsides and you start to enjoy using it as a functional piece of idea gathering equipment.
I have the large squared Moleskines and use them in general for idea gathering (brainstorming, or “thought showers”, whichever you want), wireframing, design sketching, writing notes in University, pretty much everything. I’ve found the squared versions to be the most versatile as you can write straight in both vertical and horizontal positions. The squares have also proved perfect for wireframing and sketching website designs.
I use them because they last so long. The more you use them the more personal they get and the sense of satisfaction you get from placing a finished sketch book on the shelf is hard to beat. I’ve got quite a few completed skines, and a stock ready to go. Two ‘live’ skines that I use daily, an A5 sketchbook, and an A6 squared notebook where i keep ideas, todo lists, and basically my whole life.
With my A6 notebook from the front working back I keep my everyday notes, from the back working forward work notes etc. With my A5 sketchbooks, I start about a third of the way in, seems to help get over the crippling fear that the first page in a brand new book brings with it.
I do primarily UX design these days, which is 99% digital, however I still to this day like to mockup my interfaces on paper first just to get an overall sense of the composition. But occasionally, I get to doodle or sketch some pieces just for my own enjoyment and that’s what shown above.
I use Moleskines not only due to their rich history (I mean if Van Gogh, Picasso and Hemingway used them, how can you possibly go wrong?), but also because of their exceptional paper quality. I just think work looks and feels much better on them than on any other caliber of paper. I traditionally use the squared notebooks with the grid lines, as I am usually mocking up interfaces on them and find it easier to balance a layout that way.
I use my moleskin for everyday note taking at meetings, conversations, explaining things to people (diagrams) can’t think without a pen and paper and tutorials.
I use them for most of my UI brainstorming as well as for general notes on projects. I love their solid, quality construction and feel and the size makes it portable enough to take anywhere because you never know when inspiration will hit!
My notes and sketches are not exactly ‘neat’, i tend to jot down my ideas immediately and then refine them later. As i think brainstorming is about opening up your mind to new ideas/directions and not filtering anything until a later stage. And yes you did just get a sneak peek at some of the features for the new Theme Thursday website!
Interesting Moleskine resources:
- Getting/Staying Organized: My Moleskine PDA
- Hacking a GTD Moleskine
- Setting up a Moleskine
- A Moleskine Hacked into a Complete System
- 20 + Ways to Use a Moleskine Notebook
- The Geekster Moleskine
- 43 Folders – Moleskine Hacks
Unfortunately i couldn’t include everyone who emailed me as this may have turned into the longest scrolling page in history! However i tried to include a variety of creatives who add interesting viewpoint’s on why Moleskine’s are an essential tool in their creative process. I would like to thank everyone for taking time out to participate and share their viewpoint.
I would love to hear from other’s who use Moleskine and their reasons why, if you have a drawing or sketch to show off, by all means drop a link to it in your comment.
Im also doing a follow up post to this in 3 weeks on the sketching process of designers and developers (does not have to be moleskine), so if you would like to participate drop me an email at: hi[at]gracesmith.co.uk.
Photo by hummyhummy