Featured image by Expressing student @lisemya
New year, new semester at Sketchbook Skool—and, you may notice, a few more shiny new things happening here on campus. We asked co-founder Danny Gregory for an update on Sketchbook Skool 2016.
Tell us about the new Sketchbook Skool kourse, Expressing.
Danny: Expressing is exciting because it goes beyond drawing and watercoloring and takes us in lots of interesting and experimental directions. You know, we always try to keep things fresh, to provide new forms of inspiration, so we gathered a group of pretty different teachers who share one thing in common—there’s loads of feeling in the work they make.
We want to encourage our students to think beyond representation. After all, we have cameras right in our phones; if realism is all we’re after, we could just snap a pic. Art tells us more—about the emotion of a situation, the story behind the moment, the feelings and experiences of the artist.
Cool! So who are these new teachers?
Felix Scheinberger is a watercoloring monster! He teaches in Berlin and has illustrated loads of beautiful books. But we know him through his book Urban Watercolor Sketching, which is so inspiring. Every page makes you want to drop the book and grab your paints. His klass is like that too. He also does cool things with collage, ink, and pencils. He’ll rock your world.
Jill Weber is another great illustrator and storyteller. Her gouache paintings are simple and lively and full of character and story. She’s also a book fiend and hand-makes elaborate books with pop-ups and little glassine envelopes containing cutouts and books insides of books. One of our favorite stories is about how she decided to go back to art school in her 50s. You’re never too old to learn!
Michael Nobbs is a real inspiration. He has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so he has to be very careful how he expends his energy. Yet he makes art every single day, write books and ‘zines, does a daily podcast, and many other things. His drawings are simple and full of life and fun.
Penelope Dullaghan is an illustrator who lives in a small house by a river in Indiana. The river and her little daughter inspire Penny to make work that is whimsical and natural. Penny is one of those people who makes everything around her gorgeous, and her house is full of artistic touches. She’s forever crafting and printing and stamping and making lovely things.
Sabine Wisman also lives in a lovely home straight out of Martha Stewart. She is hilarious and full of stories, and her work bristles with wit and fun. She started out as a journalist, so her art is full of information and little silly charts and diagrams.
And lastly but not leastly, there’s Koosje. KK loves to embellish her journal pages with words (in English and Dutch!) and in this klass, she pulls out all of her lettering tricks to show us how to turn our drawings into rich, complex journal pieces.
And for the first time, previous SBS kourses Beginning and Playing are running at the same time as the new kourse.
Beginning was our first kourse, but it lays the foundation for so much of what we teach in any of our Skool kourses. We explain the basics, not just in terms of technique, but how to start thinking about ourselves as artists. It needn’t be the first kourse you take, but we think everyone should take this kourse at some point in their time at SBS. Playing is just lots of fun. An opportunity to get back in touch with that artist we all were at six or seven. We take the classic tools we played with in kindergarten—crayons, paper bag masks, ink blots, potato stamps—and give them a second look. We love this kourse, and it’s great for anyone who wants to make art with their children. Or their inner child.
Are SBS kourses on a new platform?
Yes, we built our own platform last year after moving off Ruzuku. We intend it to be an evolving project, one that can adjust to meet the specific needs of a creative community. We continue to add and refine features and to prune those that are less helpful. We’ve invested a lot in building the Skool House and the Student Union, and we welcome all comments that will help us make it more useful to help people learn, share and collaborate. Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What else is happening with SBS this year?
In some ways, we’re going back to our roots, emphasizing our community and the power of inspiration. So, while we are making new kourses, we’re also looking for ways for our community to become more engaged and active. We want to constantly give new ideas, new things to draw, new ways to express ourselves and our creativity. We want to find new ways for people to interact with the fakulty, to learn from the deep experiences of the dozens of great artists who teach at SBS.
So we’ll make more demo videos, offer more tips and more opportunities to see teachers’ working process, more chances to engage and ask questions. And we’ll create more community projects, prompts that we can all do together, ways to branch out and work alongside each other.
We also decided that we would offer a small number of kourses each term, all of which would start on the same day. That way, everyone will work on the same assignments at the same time. In the past, we found that this was the most inspiring way to develop a creative habit and learn from each other. SBS is not just about people working alone in their rooms. It’s about the power of sharing to expand us all as creative people.
Will you and Koosje continue to be part of SBS kourses?
Of course! We will each teach from time to time, and of course we’ll introduce each teacher at the beginning of the week. And we’re very involved in all aspects of the Skool: picking the fakulty, working with them to develop their klasses, overseeing the production of the videos, and working with the rest of the SBS team on all aspects of the Skool. We love SBS and working is here is the best job either of us has ever had!
Will some of the other SBS teachers from previous kourses be returning for future kourses?
While we’re always looking for new people to feature in our kourses, we know that many of our Fakulty have more to teach. If their schedules allow, we would love to invite them back. If students have any favorites or requests, we’d love to hear them! Email us at email@example.com.
Lastly (but not leastly!), what do you want students to get out of SBS klasses, and making art?
We were all born with the desire to make art, to engage with the world around us in a rich and meaningful way. But many of us lost that urge. Maybe it was in high school, maybe after art school, maybe because of the demands of family or career. And though some of us kept making art, we started to lose our way, to feel confined or stuck in a rut.
Sketchbook Skool is designed to do four things: teach us skills and techniques; inspire us to make art in fresh and personal ways; entertain us through high-quality films that bring us into the worlds of amazing artists all over the world; and forge a warm and supportive community that will keep us making art and getting more and more out of it. We never again want people to lose the creative urge. It makes us all happier, healthier, richer, and the world a better place.
Remember, Koosje and I are the founders of Sketchbook Skool—but we’re SBS students, too. We love learning from our fakulty, our colleagues, and our students. We figure if we’re getting something out if this, other people might too. It’s that simple.
Got questions for Danny, Koosje, or any SBS fakulty member? Is there something you’d like to see on the blog? Let us know!