Unleash Your Creativity By Entering a Flow State-of-Mind

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You are capable of unleashing massive waves of creativity. Each time you put ink to paper you are initiating a connection between your mind and the outside world.

You’ve probably noticed that the innumerable thoughts, designs, feelings, and impressions of which your mind is capable of creating are at times more resistant than you’d wish. As a creative you know that your best ideas can’t be pushed or forced, they travel seamlessly and naturally onto your blank canvas. The psychological term for this smooth, barrier-free state of mind is called flow. As a designer, you need it. As a writer, you thrive on it. At Denik, we’re passionate about it.

Understanding Flow

Understanding how to create and sustain flow is key to unlocking creativity.

You’ve been in flow before, more frequently than you might realize, although you may not have known that it had a name. Think of a time where you’ve been completely absorbed and caught up in a creative activity, a time where everything else around you seemed to fade away. This relaxed, yet focused state of mind is the beginning stage of flow.

During flow your concentration and focus is so great that you begin to lose awareness of the self. You’ll notice that your perception also changes. After a flow period, you might check the time and be surprised at how slowly or quickly time has really passed. During this period of time, sometimes referred to as “being in the zone”, your mind is flooded with inspiration, words and ideas are connected with ease, and your actions quicken as you become more passionate about what you are creating.

Contrast this with the devastating and very relatable story of what happened to CEO and Author Tony Schwartz who was hopelessly sucked into the world of distraction, the enemy of creativity. Tony recounted that instead of getting into the zone he would find himself wasting valuable hours checking traffic numbers from his company website, shopping for colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, and even clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines such as “Awkward Child Stars Who Grew Up to Be Attractive.”

Don’t you dare let yourself click on those irresistible headlines while you are trying to enter flow. Save the “Check out this video of melting butter, you’ll never guess what happens next!” links for your lunch break. Also, don’t worry, Tony Schwartz has fully recovered and is a master at creating distraction-free time to focus.


How Flow Unlocks Creative Potential

Being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.
— Positive Psychologist - Mihály Csíkszentmihályi

Being in flow produces several advantages that will boost your creative ability. These characteristics include:

  • Increased clarity of mind.

  • Complete concentration on the present activity.

  • Increased awareness for your work.

  • Increased feelings of serenity.

  • Losing awareness of oneself or self-consciousness.

  • Increased sense of control.

  • Increased confidence.

  • Lack of awareness of physical needs.

  • Activities become intrinsically rewarding.

Creating And Sustaining Flow

Creating an environment where your mind can easily enter flow is essential. Flow’s greatest adversary is distraction. Other than simply slowing down your productivity, little distractions even once every 5 or 10 minutes can sidetrack your mind from entering flow. Without fully entering flow your creativity, talent, and the overall satisfaction you feel while creating art will significantly decrease.

Here are some tips to help you create and sustain flow as you work:

  • Schedule a period of time to enter flow. Remember, it can take as long as 15 minutes to enter a Flow state.

  • Don’t accept interruptions from anyone. Let others know that this is your time to create, and you need to be left undisturbed.

  • If inspiration isn’t coming, grab a blank sketchbook and start doodling. It might take just a few minutes to get the creative juices flowing.

  • Turn off distractions such as email, messages, and social media before you begin to enter Flow.

  • Silence your phone and remove it from your sight.

  • Slap on a pair of headphones and play lyric-less music.

  • Once you enter flow, stay in it as long as you possibly can.

  • Be aware of how much you can achieve in 30 minutes of uninterrupted flow compared to 30 minutes of normal time.

  • Don’t multitask. Concentrate on the task at hand until you are finished.

Be aware of how content you feel once you are in flow.

Allowing yourself to enter flow requires discipline, but it will pay off as you create an environment where your mind accepts inspiration and where your imagination is free to run wild. By being aware of the flow state-of-mind you are already off to a great start.

Now go out there and enter flow. Post what you create while in your flow state with the hashtag #denikflow. And remember, never let your mind stop you from having a good time.






Our Laos School is Completed!

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We at Denik are happy to announce that our school in Laos has been completed!!
Mok Chong Pre & Primary School is a 5 classroom, serving hundreds of students.
We couldn't have done this without the help of our amazing partners Pencils of Promise, and of course you, our awesome customers. Together we are changing the world. 

Before (below) Mok Chong School build, students were being taught in an aging provisional structure made of wood, dirt floors and a combination of thatched and metal roofs. Classrooms were heavily congested due to overcrowding, making it difficult for students to focus and concentrate. Lack of light also created a less than ideal learning environment. Additionally, there was not enough furniture, and what they did have would barely last through a school year before the community would have to fix it or try and create temporary solutions.

We recognized and responded to the needs of Mok Chong by helping PoP and the community break ground on a new 5-classroom school, the Mok Chong Pre and Primary School. Teachers, parents and community members were dedicated and committed to the project, contributing up to 20 percent of resources and labor. The Ministry of Education was also supportive throughout the build. After 5 months, we mounted the plaque, concluding tireless work to build a school equipped with formal blackboards, benches, desks, doors, walls and windows. We made this school build possible for the students of Mok Chong and created a safe, strong structural foundation where they will be able to learn and realize their potential and promise.

We want you guys to remember that this wouldn't be possible without people like you! Thank you for purchasing, donating, and helping us build our dream and the dream of many others!


Arts Education and Why It Matters

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Here at Denik, we are constantly emphasizing the importance of living a creative life. This week We've found an interesting article from Edutopia By Fran Smith who talks about arts and education.


"Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence," sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it's closely linked to almost everything that awe as a nation say we want from our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Years of research show that art education is closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT, CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, and EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITY.

Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life-- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing, "creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museaum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. 











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Being able to think outside the box is a learnable skill. You just have to be willing to try new things
— Jason Zook

Creative thinking plays an important role in the creative process. That's why we'd like to share these creative activities from Jasondoesstuff to help get your creative juices flowing. 



If you want to get your creative juices flowing, start consuming content you wouldn't normally consume. Read blogs outside of your industry. Read books outside of your normal genre of choice. Heck, grab lunch with a complete stranger.



Open up a blank document and just start typing. No headline, no topic, no editing, and most importantly no self-critiquing. Just let your fingers start typing and let your brain decide what words get written.



Do a 45-60 minute brainstorming session with a friend. No technology and no criticism whatsoever. Bring a topic or idea you want to brainstorm to the table, and just start riffing on it back and forth. Write down all your ideas and don't critique a single idea.



You should always be aware and take influence from what's around you. A sketchbook allows you to draw from life, stimulate your imagination and most importantly get your ideas down on paper. Whatever your discipline, which may be graphics to poetry, its always important to have a sketchbook.

Need a boost of creativity? Check out our rad selection of notebooks. Click the link below!


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2016 treated us well. We completely funded, and finished building our school in Laos.

We also learned a ton. And, since we love "education" in every sense of the word, we figured we'd share one of our major "take-aways" from 2016. 

So here you go:


Yep, plain ol' consistency. It seems that in our company with our artist friends, we were constantly reminded of how important "consistency" should be in our lives. Whether you're a musician, an artist, an athlete, or a blogger, if you add a healthy dose of consistency to your daily approach, you're going to find success. We believe that consistency and grit will beat natural talent in the long run. 

Here's an example of what we're planning in 2017 as one improved area of consistency. 

Improving our website. BOOM.

Every Monday morning at 9am, our design team will be getting together to discuss and implement action items for improving our customer experience in the website. We will do this each and every week. And with that consistency throughout the year, we will have 52, one-hour meetings. From those meetings, we'll have several hours of action items. Resulting in 100+ hours of website improvement. 

Yeah, we're looking forward to it, too. 

So, here's our question for you: with 1 hour a week; 52 hours total throughout the year, what area of you life could benefit the most from implementing "consistency"?

Also, let us know how we can help you with that consistency. We wish you the best of luck!


Happy New Year.


Team Denik



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At Denik, we truly believe that 'Art Can Change the World' and thats exactly what you are helping us to do.

Each Denik purchase supports global artists and helps to build schools worldwide. We are pleased to announce our newest school will be built in Laos. We have partnered with Pencils of Promise to make our dream of a school in Laos a reality.

With you help, we have already funded 55% of the new school and are climbing toward our final goal everyday!


1. 30% of Laos is illiterate, with even higher rates of illiteracy amongst ethnic minorities – The Laos government spends very little on education, which continually increases the poverty rate in Laos. Schools are more accessible in urban areas, but schools in rural Laos are little in number and far in distance. Slowly, Laos's educational system has improved and a larger stress has been put on education. It is our hope that the Denik School in Laos will help improve this problem, and impact generations to come!

2. There are 2x more students assigned to one teacher in Laos than in the US– Because the educational system in Laos is still developing and growing, the amount of children in each classroom is much greater. With the building of new schools in Laos, it is our hope that class sizes will decrease and each kid will receive a more personable education adapted to their individual learning needs. 

3. 46% of 12-18 year olds were enrolled in secondary school in Laos in 2012. Let's make that number higher with more and more schools in Laos!

4. The average years of schooling in Laos is 4.6 years– That is 8.3 years less than the average years of education in the US. (US average: 12.9)


Click here to learn more about our partner Pencils of Promise and how they are making a difference.

Citation: United Nations Development Programme: Human Development Reports, Pencils of Promise


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Here at Denik, we are always looking for ways to feel inspired. We ran across this wonderful list from Helen Aldous for the blog "Artonomy" and hope that it inspires you too. 


1. Dont be precious about your sketchbook – It will stifle your creativity. — Let the ideas flow. Not all of your drawings have to be perfect so don't worry about a messy drawing inside your beautiful new sketchbook. 

2. Don’t tear out pages or remove work you aren’t happy with. — Your sketchbook should be honest. Dont try to edit it. It’s there as a record of your thoughts and even terrible work is a record of your progress. Even if it looks dreadful there may be an idea there you can come back to at a later stage.

3. Don't let your sketchbook confine you artwork— find new ways to use your sketchbook. Cut things out, paint inside it, make a collage. Think outside of the box and use your sketchbook creatively. 

4. Be Messy. — Try out new techniques and materials in your sketchbook. That way you have an ever growing reference library of what works [and what doesn't].

5. Collect things – Stick them in your sketchbook — Postcards from exhibitions, feathers, leaves, photos, textiles, paint samples, flyers, stickers, magazine cuttings and other memorabilia inside your sketchbook can be a source of inspiration. 

6. I may be obvious but… keep a pen or pencil with your sketchbook. — There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great idea or seeing something amazing and having nothing to draw or write it down with. Always have a pen or pencil attached to your sketchbook. It

7. USE IT — Its so easy to get out of the habit of working in your sketchbook. You forget to take it out a few times and before you know it you haven’t worked in it for six months. Sketching on a daily basis is a good habit that will inspire you and help you grow creatively! 

30 Day Drawing Challenge

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30 days, 30 topics, 30 challenges to draw, and 30 ideas. Be creative and think outside of the box!

































If you're really cool (and we know you are) post a picture of your favorite drawing and tag @shopdenik or use the hashtag #Denik30DayChallenge. Good luck and have fun!

Denik Art Show

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During the month of December we held a Denik Art Show competition. Many artists submitted their work for a chance to win $250 and an opportunity to be featured on our products. We had many talented artists submit work into our show and we saw some amazing talent. Here are the top three submissions!


Winner - Nebula Woman // Ryan Morse

Ryan Morse is a Denver based freelance illustrator who received his BFA in illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. His illustrations blend the sci-fi, fantasy and macabre world while still keeping a bit of subtlety alive.

Click here to check Ryan's work on his website

Follow him on instagram @morse_Illustration



2. Gnotes // Justin Smith


"Hiking enthusiast, artist, food eater, and           beard grower"

Justin Smith is a talented artist who enjoys spending his time in the great outdoors. His artwork often reflects his love for the mountains.

We were thrilled when Justin entered "Gnotes" into the Art Show. 

Check out more of Justin's work and follow him on instagram @thesherpa815



3. Jumping for joy // jonathan coyne


"A boy with a beard, a dog and a wife. Oh, and an    irrational fear that gravity may reverse itself."

Jonathan Coyne is a talented photographer who loves to photograph "reverse gravity." His unique style and concepts make him an amazing artist! Jonathan's "Jumping for Joy" piece reflects his style and encapsulates his amazing talent. 

Check out more of his work and follow him on instagram




Meet Brent

Denik TeamComment

The crew that makes up Denik is about as varied as the style of notebooks we offer, and we think that’s great. If you couldn’t tell, we aren’t fans of boring, so we sat down with who you might think would be the most boring person on our team, Brent Crosby - Denik’s head of Finance and Operations. Not surprisingly, he isn’t boring at all. Check out some of his background, why he joined Denik and how he thinks art really can change the world.


Q: How long have you been with Denik? 

A: About 2 and a half years!


Q: Do you do art? 

A: Not at all. I definitely admire it, but can't draw or paint to save my life. I used to love to draw as a kid, not sure what the heck happened. 


Q: If you don't do art, how do you still engage with the art community?

A:  At Denik, I stay fairly engaged just doing my job and working with artists. My wife and I also love going to community art festivals and buying local art. 


Q: Why Denik?

A: Entrepreneurship was something I got really interested in during college, but I kind of fought off the urge in favor of gaining some professional experience. After college I was lucky enough to land a job at a prominent investment banking firm and thought I had it made.  I was making great money, working at a prestigious firm, and constantly being told how fortunate I was. Shortly after starting I realized I was completely miserable, as were most of the people I worked with. I was working crazy hours, under incredible amounts of stress, and did not feel fulfilled. When I was looking for an exit Tyler came by my house and asked me to come on board at Denik. It took me a few months to finally agree. One of the biggest reasons I jumped on board was the opportunity to really make a difference in the world. I'm a huge believer in education, I think its one of the few things you can invest in that really makes a difference long term. 


Q: Can art change the world/ how has it changed your world?

A: It absolutely can. There are so many artists and poets who's contributions have had enormous influence on culture and society. For me, art is one of the things that makes life so wonderful. Good art expands your worldview; it has definitely expanded mine. I remember seeing Picasso's Guernica in the 2nd grade. Even though it seemed so grotesque, I remember thinking it had its own kind of odd beauty to it. Art allows you to see the world through someone else's eyes. I think if people could take that perspective more often, the word would be a much more tolerant and loving place. 

Art Is Changing the World

Denik TeamComment

You've heard our motto before, and we're firm believers in it, "Art can change the world." We're here to tell you that art IS changing the world and we have YOU to thank for that! We partnered up with Mali Rising (2012-2013) and then with Pencils of Promise (2013-2014) to help build schools in developing countries. A portion of every notebook purchased has gone to these foundations, and schools have been built!


With our contributions to Mali Rising, and the contributions of others, 17 schools have been built in Mali and the 18th is underway!

Screen shot 2015-01-23 at 11.57.48 AM.png

Since 2009, Pencils of Promise Foundation has successfully built 268 schools all over the world. 31,244 students are impacted by the schools and programs that are built.

We want you guys to remember that this wouldn't be possible without people like you! Thanks for purchasing, donating, and helping us build our dream and dream of many others!

Hello 2015!

Denik TeamComment

We hope everyone has survived the first 2 weeks of 2015! We've started the new year off with a bang and we hope that you have too! We've set some high goals for 2015 here at Denik, and one of those goals is to connect with each of you over all of our social networks. Basically, social media guru's - this post is for YOU. 

Do you tweet? Sweet! So do we. Follow us at: @shopdenik

Are you on Facebook? Make sure and like our page! Denik

You like double-tapping some Insta-G's? Make sure and follow us at: @shopdenik

Do you spend your spare time pinning? We do too! Follow: Denik Notebooks and Journals

We're planning on using our social networks to do some sweet giveaways, collaborations, and to reach out to new artists. This is your chance to win, get involved, and get out there!

New Quiksilver & Roxy Collaboration in Time for the Holidays

Denik TeamComment

After our wonderful experience working together earlier this year, Quiksilver and Roxy have agreed to team up again to bring you a holiday collection available in select stores. This round of notebooks is inspired by rays of sun, sand between your toes, weekend bonfires, and...well, triangles. Seriously, they're all over the place, which is good because triangles are the most structurally sound shape, so that means these are built to last. 

Even though we don't live in a region that allows us to kick it on the beach year round, we still understand the vibe that comes with the culture, and these books capture that vibe. We are stoked to release them and announce that they are available in the stores listed below:

                                    Miami - 740 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL

Times Square - 3 Times Square, New York, NY

Charleston - 299 King St, Charleston, SC

Gaslamp - 402 5th Ave, San Diego, CA

Disney -  1570 South Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA

                                    Broadway – 519 Broadway, New York, NY

Beachwalk- 2181 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI

Irvine- 71 Fortune Dr Irvine, CA

Del Amo - 3525 W Carson St, Torrance, CA

Meatpacking - 408 West 14th Street, New York City, NY

Pasadena - 169 W. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena CA

Sawgrass - 12801 W Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL

Dolphin Mall - 11401 NW 12th St, Miami, FL

Orlando - 4963 International Dr., Orlando, FL

South Coast Plaza - 3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA

Santa Monica - 1422 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 

So if you live in, or are soon travelling to one of these areas, make sure to grab a hold of one of these. No, literally, grab ahold of them and feel their enticing softness...and then buy one. You won't regret it. These bad boys are available for a limited time, and as always, they help build schools.

UPDATE: Get your royalties here!

Denik TeamComment

Hey Artists,

It's time for us to be sending out royalty checks again, and we've tried to email everyone but with people moving and changing emails and everything we don't have ways to contact some of you. We are in a transition period of switching to PayPal to make things easier for everyone in the long run. Check yo' emails for details, if you don't have one in your inbox, hit up so he can get them to you.

Put a little Woot! in your back-to-school rotation.

art, Denik, journal, notebook, Woot, Woot.comDenik TeamComment

We're very pleased to announce we have teamed up with the popular deal website once again to bring you an exciting collection of popular shirt designs that have been "Journalized". This is great because journals don't have to go through the laundry! Even when your shirt is lying wrinkled on the floor (or tossed in the hamper if you have your act together), you can still show off your exquisite taste by sporting one of these bad boys. 

Here are a few of the favorites from our office:

What's this? Just a few of the greatest things to come from the 80's mashed up into 1? Cool. We can dig it.

What's this? Just a few of the greatest things to come from the 80's mashed up into 1? Cool. We can dig it.

Different enough to avoid any copyright infringement, similar enough to still ring true to Whovians everywhere.

Different enough to avoid any copyright infringement, similar enough to still ring true to Whovians everywhere.

If you've ever been to a showing of "Bodies: The Exhibition", you can connect with this naturalistic adaptation.

If you've ever been to a showing of "Bodies: The Exhibition", you can connect with this naturalistic adaptation.

The release started on Friday, August 1st, and will continue through until Thursday, August 8th. Both and Shirt.Woot are featuring the sale on their front pages (That's how you know it's cool). For a shortcut, here are direct links to the feature pages so you can see the complete collection: Denik Notebook Special Denik Notebooks on Shirt.Woot!

All 9 covers are available in our regular as well as our full-sized notebooks, meaning there should be something available for whatever your needs are. So take advantage of this week-long run of some of's handpicked favorite designs, you know you want to...

Quiksilver and Roxy Notebooks

Denik TeamComment

It's official. Quiksilver and Roxy just released our collaboration notebooks! That's great news, especially for those folks who are hitting' up school in the next couple months. It's also great news for the people that love sketchin', doodlin', writin', jottin', and brainstormin' in a notebook that inspires your inner extreme and your outer mellow. As you fill the pages lean in close, and breathe in that whiff of salt-water and sunscreen. You'll be inspired. You'll be motivated.

You may be wondering where you can pick these bad boys (or girls) up? Lucky enough, below is a handy-dandy list of the current Quiksilver locations that are carrying them:

Park City, UT

Laguna Beach, CA

La Jolla, CA

Beachwalk (Honolulu, HI)

Broadway (New York, NY)

Santa Monica, CA

Disney (Fullerton, CA)

Times Square (New York, NY)

South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA)

Miami Beach, FL

Hopefully these notebooks spark a bit of adventure in you. If not, that's cool too. Go check 'em out and let us know what you think! Feel free to share pics, tag us on instagram @shopdenik. Hashtags are always welcome. Mustache photos with these products will earn you bonus points.

5 ways to ditch your sketchbook rut

Denik Team3 Comments
This post was originally posted on the blog of Kristin Gulledge, Drawesome. A huge thanks to Kristin for letting us share us share it.

1 // get rid of the idea that your sketchbook needs to be presentable. i know--people always want to see it. we're artists. we're cool. we carry around these little books with various drawing tools and oftentimes people think that we breathe and magic designs spill onto the paper. but we know it's not that simple, and we don't want to be self-conscious, so we want to draw well. we want to be impressive. but this can also paralyze us into ruts or worse, into not drawing at all. and what i often see in the sketchbooks of beginners (and of those in ruts) is that they worry about this and tend to draw very timidly, which shows through the drawing.

so with that idea--the idea that "this has to look awesome or someone will doubt my artistic legitimacy"-- out of your mind, your drawings might actually look, well, more awesome. sketchbooks are magical. they can be places to develop ideas, to study concepts in a deeper capacity, to play, to observe, to explore, to understand. don't worry; just draw. 

2 // keep multiple sketchbooks. this can help with #1. so if you feel inclined, get a few different sketchbooks. perhaps you can use one for emulations, one for "pretty drawings" where you try to make finished work and one for straight-up experimentation. experimentation of medium, of style, of ideas, etc; this last one might surprise you in how free your drawings become...maybe it'll become your favorite. i don't even bother with the "pretty drawing" one anymore, honestly--i usually find my best stuff in the others. and to be totally honest, the types of books i've mentioned usually end up bleeding together. but my mind opens up as to how i can use my sketchbook. 

some artists prefer just to draw on loose-leaf 8.5x11 printer paper, and then get it spiral-bound. this is a great way to keep your drawings together and make them look presentable later, if you must. it sure is a good way to gather random ideas or sort and organize them.

one of my favorite sketchbooks i designated as a "pen-only" sketchbook, where i inked on the first page, "permanent mistakes welcome". then i could then allow myself to mess up because it was supposed to happen--it was part of the process. i also made two rules for myself: #1- i could only use pen, which allowed me to be more bold in my mark-making, and #2- i couldn't skip pages, which helped me move on from "bad drawings" faster. i found that along with a lot of not-so-great drawings, i had a lot of successful drawings in that book because i let myself draw with reckless abandon. obviously there are times and places, but's a thought.

lastly, one of my most favorite sketchbooks i keep is a private* sketchbook -- this tiny, thin little book can fit in my pocket and it's one that i don't let anyone else see. in these pages, i record my personal thoughts and ideas, knowing there will be absolutely zero pressure of others' eyes. the thoughts and ideas i pour into this book aren't limited either -- they come not only as images, but also as words, as poems, as potential songs...creativity appreciates both boundaries and having boundaries lifted. also, i can be totally honest in my work here. 

[above photo notes] left: 3.5x5.5 handbook handles water media well. pocket-sized! don't let the format hold you back. top right: the closed 3.5x5.5 moleskin book is my private sketchbook.  super thin pages but that's okay for this one for me.  i penned the words on the front, [*and here's a little secret--i'll tell you about one page in there, which is  the first page in the book which completes the thought on the front: '...nor perfection allowed'. again, it's my counterbalance to pesky paralyzing perfectionism. but apparently there is no counterbalance to alliterations when they just come....] bottom right: a sketch from a photo i took at a concert in my pen-only 4.5x8.5 denik book. pretty thin pages but good for ink only :) (and denik is a great cause...check them out

3 // switch up your medium! matt nolte visited BYU this past week and he said that when he gets frustrated, he changes his medium. i think this is excellent advice. when i use different media in my sketchbook it gets me all sorts of excited about drawing. if you can trick yourself into being excited about drawing, you'll want to draw-- all. the. time. and chances are, you'll get better if you're applying what you're learning in your classes or personal study (because you should always be learning...see #4). below are some of my favorites.

                                                                          click to enlarge--read my wee notes!

                                                                          click to enlarge--read my wee notes!

you can tell what kind of rollerball pens these are from the photo--your standard pilot G2 and uniball, as well as a staedtler pigment pen (i used to use microns but the tips wore out too fast for me). here are links to the other goodies. some of them are general links because there's variety within the media -- pentel pocket brush pen (makes more expressive marks) // col-erase pencils // waterbrushes (can be filled with ink or water) // kneaded erasers // itty bitty watercolor set (!)

piggybacking off the idea of different sketchbooks, the surface we draw on also makes a difference. toned paper is great because it automatically creates a medium value, so i also add white charcoal pencils to my quiver to create some lighter values on top. below is an example of a sketchbook i started today! it's just toned paper i'm going to spiral bind later.

and speaking of quivers, it really helps to have something to hold your supplies. i love my kaddy pencil holder, but i've not been able to find any since i purchased mine. leave me a comment and link if you can find them, or what you find helpful to hold your tools in when you tromp around town to sketchbook. perhaps pencil roll cases might work? 

below are some studies that i decided have fun with and made more interesting by using a blue col-erase, one of my rollerball pens and my waterbrush to spread the ink from the pen around for value. again: using different media = so much more fun when you're drawing what something that may appear to be boring.

4 // get outside: inspirationally and physically
get outside physically: get outside of where you normally draw. take note--where and when do you draw? is it just in class? just in a boring meeting? just in your room when you're procrastinating other things?

well, there is an entire world of things to be drawn! so get out and draw in other places: the lunchroom, the park, the line at the coffee shop, the zoo, the apple orchard, the mountains, the library, the mall. draw at concerts! drawing from life (i.e. looking at something and drawing it) is essential to help develop hand-eye coordination and connect our brains to our work. i took a sketchbook class where we just went to different random places and drew whatever we felt like. it was the most liberating experience. i don't think i would have thought of going to the harley-davidson place and drawing motorcycles on my own but you know what? it was a blast. (photo below, top-left)

as a bonus, the more things and people you draw, the more trade your stigma of what you "think" you know for actual observation and realize what things really look like. also, drawing a variety of subjects helps put those things in your memory bank so that if you're ever called upon to draw, say, a fire hydrant for a job, you're already somewhat familiar with it because one happened to be next to that random train that you drew that one time you got outside of where you normally drew.

also, just be inspired by life. some of the drawings below in the bottom-left and the one on the right side are more emotionally-driven: ideas that developed from experiences i'd had. i've heard idea thrown around the BYU animation department that animation is the imitation of life. if you don't have a life, how can you imitate it?

get outside inspirationally: look at the sketchbooks and art of those you admire. and here's the thing. students often look at their peers for inspiration. this is great, but your competition isn't just inside of your classrooms or at your universities and colleges -- your competition is in the industry you're headed into.

so rather than just looking right and left in your physical classrooms, look at the wider world of art. bridge the chasm between you and the professional you want to be in 20 years by looking at the art of the professionals you admire, because once you graduate, those are the ones you'll be compared to when you're hunting for jobs or trying to make a name for yourself! it really helps to look through others' sketchbooks to be motivated into sketchbooking/art-making. i've started a pinterest sketch board with notes about sketchbooking. honestly, it's sort of what inspired this post (it also has most the images from this post pinned, because for some reason they wouldn't pin from this page). give it a look and a follow, if you fancy.

5 // "what kind of art do i even like?!" dismayed, that's what i found myself asking after my 3-week backpacking adventures in italy, september 2012. i was back in the states with only two months to create my final bfa project to graduate college--stoked and inspired from my travels yet totally stumped on what style or direction i even wanted to go in with my art. so i used pinterest for inspiration to help me understand the kind of art i liked, because i wanted to produce art that i liked. there is a lot to be said about curating art and a lot to be understood about yourself as a person and artist from what you find. read more about that experience here.

also, be observant in your own art and sketchbooks: what do you like to draw? what do you keep coming back to? not just in subject matter, but in qualities and stylistic choices? what media do you jive with most? don't tie yourself down, but do take note of correlations in your work over time.

it's like playing the game "clue": apparently i like drawing women. with long necks. and cool hair. with good line quality. swirls. profiles. ...pensive expressions? in oblong formats. in really great sketchbooks. usually 4.5x8 or smaller.

it's like playing the game "clue": apparently i like drawing women. with long necks. and cool hair. with good line quality. swirls. profiles. ...pensive expressions? in oblong formats. in really great sketchbooks. usually 4.5x8 or smaller.

jumping off of point number 5, look forward to my next post where i'll discuss more about the importance of cultivating good taste to create your "style".

in the meantime, grab your sketchbook and get going! obviously these are just a few of my thoughts but i feel like i just let out all of my sketchbook secrets! dare to share yours? leave a comment.

                                                                                                                             -Kristin Gulledge


Denik @ SXSW

Denik TeamComment

We were fortunate enough to be invited to SXSW 2014 to their new Social Good Row. We were also right next to the Renegade Craft Fair, which is nuts in a right all its own.  You combine the two you've got one enormous festival of awesome. Below is the rad mural we did. Astronauts And bear storm troopers? Ya, that just happened. 

We also tested out some Denik shirts as you can see there on the left. Our good pal Keenan does not look to stoked about getting his picture taken. 

We were beyond impressed with some of the other brands there. Some where old friends from the TOMS marketplace and other it was our first chance to meet. We've got to mention a few by name: Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Sseko Designs, Malia Designs, and CTC International. The social good movement is alive and well...  and gaining momentum.