13 Twitterers Share Their Moleskine Obsession

Moleskine...

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
  • Collis Ta'eed

    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!

  • John Loudon@phoenixq
  • John Loudon

    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.

  • John Kennedy@CraicDesign
  • John Kennedy
    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 …

  • Jon Phillips@jophillips
  • Jon Phillips

    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 :)

  • Sarah Parmenter@sazp
  • Sarah Parmenter
    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.

  • Emily Loranzo@EmilyLozano
  • Emily Loranzo

    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.

  • Ryan Lascano – @ryanlascano
  • Ryan Lascano

    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.

  • David McDonald @davymac
  • Davy Mac
    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.

  • Rob Hawkes@robhawkes
  • Rob Hawkes

    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.

  • Joel Bradbury@joelbradbury
  • Joel Bradbury
    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.

  • Michael Lane@mlane
  • Michael Lane
    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.

  • Olwen Moseley@jolwen
  • Olwen Moseley
    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.

  • Grace Smith@gracesmith
  • Grace Smith
    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:

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

38 Comments

  1. Nice post and interesting to read other designer’s thoughts and use of their moleskines. I use a hard back unlined book – don’t have a moleskine but I love looking at what other people have in theirs! I’d love to have one filled with notes and sketches like Indiana Jones’ Dad’s notebook in the last crusade. Mine looks really boring.

  2. John Loudon says:

    Thanks for the feature grace, been looking forward to this post for some time, its really good to see how other designers think out and idea. Good post.

  3. Dave Clark says:

    I run around with three or four folded up legal-pad sheets in my wallet or pocket for notekeeping, and it’s a real drag. Maybe it’s time to switch to a Moleskin.

    Dave
    twitter.com/dave30c

  4. Nice post Grace.
    Like most folks I do love to see what everyone else gets up to in their Moleskines. The follow-up post on sketching sounds good too, will contribute to that if you’re interested – my Moleskines are mainly for notes, I have much better sketches elsewhere.

    Cheers.

  5. olwen says:

    Interesting to see others’ pages and comments – there’s a bit cut out of mine, sorry, should read ” I mind map meetings, lectures, conversations, explaining things to people (diagrams) and tutorials. I can’t think properly without a pen and paper in my hand.

    • Grace says:

      @Jennifer Thanks for visiting, i would love to be able to sketch much better!

      @John My pleasure, i agree it’s always good to see how other designers sketch and brainstorm

      @Dave Well you know im going to recommend Moleskine 😉

      @David The sketch post can be from any notebook or sketchpad, its more focused on the nature of sketching rather than the tools to sketch with. I will work out the specifics and drop you an email.

      @Olwen Hi Olwen, i just checked and this is what you emailed to me: “I use my moleskin for everyday note taking at meetings, conversations, explaining things to people (diagrams) can’t think without a pen and paper, tutorials etc.” I can change it if you would like?

  6. Robin Cannon says:

    I’m a sucker for good stationery, Moleskin or otherwise. Very easy for techies to become too wedded to their gadgets and forget about how practical and how much of a boost to creativity a blank sheet of paper and a pencil can be.

    I’ve moved back to doing a lot more work on paper these days. In terms of web design I find that sketching ideas sees me come up with far fresher concepts, because I’m not automatically thinking in terms of technical limitations. And in terms of time management, on a day to day basis I’m far more effective with written ‘To Do’ lists than digital equivalents, and I use online tools to manage longer term aspects of work.

    I also have a ‘design inspiration’ scrapbook, which seems to be one alternative that wasn’t covered. Every time I see a cool picture, logo, photograph or similar I’ll grab it and put it in the book (which is A2 size, or 16.5″ x 23.4″) when I get home. Pretty much my first move when coming up with a new design these days is to flick through that book looking for inspiration, or just to get the creative juices flowing.

  7. Nice…I was reluctant to put mine up showing random scribbles, but it’s refreshing to see that I’m not alone

  8. olwen says:

    Ah – no that’s good – but when I view the narrative under the images the text is cut off – any ideas why?

    • Grace says:

      @Robin Thanks for your brilliant comment :-) I completely agree that designers/developers become too stuck on gadgets and apps and forget that grabbing a pen and paper can be much more inspiring and creative! I love the ‘design scrapbook’ idea, will have to steal that for myself!

      @Vincent I myself tend to scribble notes in a very messy way so i wouldn’t worry about showing random scribbles! I find just throwing my ideas onto paper without worrying about being neat is a great way to just let the ideas flow unfiltered.

      @Olwen Im not sure whats happening to cut the text off, i havent had anyone else mention it. I will do some quick browser testing to see if i can isolate what could be causing it :-)

  9. Dan says:

    I understand the importance of a Notebook. I’ve used one for years and couldn’t be without it. However, I don’t see how spending twelve quid on one means it’ll be any more helpful than a £3.50 one from Smith’s.

    How many Moleskine fiends, I wonder, are also Mac users? Spending three times as much money on something that looks pretty but does the same job sounds like the Apple mentality.

    Call me a buzz-kill but I’d rather buy 2 notebooks, a spot of lunch and have change. Just my .002 cents.

    • Grace says:

      Hey Dan, thanks for adding your viewpoint. I think it’s a matter of preference, clearly there are a lot of creatives who feel the extra money spent on that particular brand of notebook is worth it. I myself have used a wide range of notebooks and sketchpads and finally settled on Moleskine because of its quality and the fact i actually enjoying using it, a powerful combination for any product. I do have some friends who are lifelong PC users who use Moleskine so it’s not a mac thing 😉

  10. Dan says:

    Oh, I absolutely agree. If you genuinely prefer a product, then by all means use it, regardless of cost.

    The only reason I would think about moving to Moleskine notebooks is for consistency. I’m borderline OCD when it comes to things matching. I couldn’t bare to have a row of notebooks on my shelf that didn’t match. Not a problem I’ve had before but if Smith’s changed their notebook style I’d be mortified.

  11. Dave Clark says:

    I just ordered 3 Moleskins from Amazon. Couldn’t find them at either Office Depot or Aaron Bros. All those legal pad notes are sitting in a pile next to this Mac Book Pro computer, no longer in my wallet or pocket. Already getting better organized. Photographers used to take meticulous notes, now the digital camera does it all for you — even can give you a GPS location so you won’t forget where that picture was taken. Hoo-Hah!!

  12. Dave Clark says:

    Oh, BTW, my Twitter is twitter.com/dave30c

  13. Rich says:

    Great list Grace!! I love the mix of people who use for drawing and for writing. Nice work.

  14. John Loudon says:

    @Dan I get were your coming from and I indeed am a mac user, but only when I am at work; that is the studios choice not mine.

    I really like macs now though, they are faster than any PC I have used for graphics so far.

    I would say I judge a product on its own merit the moleskine notepads are of good quality and I have been using them for many years as my dad used to get them free on the rigs, and bring them home for me to draw on.

    I think I use them just because they look clean and do the job well, I take a lot of notes and this is a handy way for me to keep track of things.

    I don’t waste them for sketches though, I usually just buy a couple of packs of printer A4 to doodle and sketch on (£3 for 500 sheets, LOL), the Moleskine is just for notes and things worth documenting. Like hacks, thoughts tricks I pick up along the way.

    John

  15. Ms Quinn says:

    hi grace. moleskins are the best. i use them for note taking, and drawings also. it’s more convenient if you just want to sit and sketch all day. I travel with mine every time I go out. friends think i’m a nerd, taking it all the time. when i have an idea, i pull out my moleskin and jot it down.

    awesome take care!

  16. Speedmaster says:

    Great post, I enjoyed that. 😉

  17. JJ Casas says:

    Just wrote an entry on my blog regarding my brand affinity to Moleskine. Check it out! =)

    http://jcasasphotography.blogspot.com/2009/04/my-brand-affinity-moleskine.html

  18. Hi Grace,

    Just wanted to say a quick thank you for the article. I was contemplating joining the Moleskine movement and it really helped me decide to opt in.
    So since reading your blog yesterday I went out and bought my first Moleskine notebook which is sitting right next to me now.

    When I removed the old cheap notebook from my ‘man bag’ that I kept for random notes it was dog eared and really looked like a mess. The hard covered Moleskine notebook actually feels like it will stay neat and tidy for a long time while on adventures with me.

    I’m a twitter nut too!
    twitter.com/justbecos

    So thanks again for being inspirational!

    Tony

  19. Sans says:

    I illustrate with a precision pen/marker pigma MICRON 03. I wish that the paper in these notebooks were just a little thicker, so that my sketches and illustrations wouldn’t seep through to the other side of the page, and the page underneath in some cases. I wish there were an ink pen that I could use to put down my ideas that wouldn’t inhibit my strokes.

  20. Laura says:

    @Dave, in terms of finding places to buy Moleskines, you can quite often get good bulk rates on eBay, and many Barnes & Noble stores have a display of them.

  21. Moleskines are the coolest notebooks on earth. All of my ideas are scribbled and sketched in mine.

  22. RootShell says:

    I use and abuse them… sometimes i feel sorry for them… sometimes i smile at them… but in the end… they are always there to take my every single tought or idea.

    It’s the perfect on the road tool for taking notes and they never let me down.

    I have already been angry at not finding them at the local store, and having to wait/search for another store where they are available.

    It’s good to know that they I’m not the only one to think that these little Moleskine’s are excelent.

    Greetings from Portugal!

  23. @Dave, in terms of finding places to buy Moleskines, you can quite often get good bulk rates on eBay, and many Barnes & Noble stores have a display of them.

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