The Joy of Sketch is a beginner’s guide to sketching every day. Full of inspiration, tips and simple exercises, this book will help you reignite your passion for sketching. We caught up with Jen Russell-Smith the author and creator of The Joy of Sketch to hear more about the book and her must-have tips for sketching through life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a primarily self-taught artist whose only just coming to terms with being ‘allowed’ to call myself one! I draw and paint (along with a few other creative pursuits when time allows) around my young family and, this year especially, all the demands that brings.
Tell us a bit about your new book?
I like to imagine it as a virtual hand-hold to all the people who have ever seen my work or heard about what I do and said ‘Oh, I wish I could draw’ and then laughed politely when I told that they probably could and just need to practise… I wrote it for people, like me, who want to carve out a bit of time for creativity amongst all the other things clamouring for their attention because they know, on some level, that creating, making and expressing yourself does make life just that little bit better. But, rather than saying ‘just draw what you love’ or ‘copy this exercise’ I’ve tried to find a range of things to be inspired by that will hopefully be right in front of you.
What is your favourite project/technique featured?
Almost all of the exercises and suggestions in the book are things I have done myself at some point over the last few years, so they’ve all had their moment in the favourite-spotlight! Looking back, though, the ones that really stick with me are my self-portrait project (I was so young! I wore so many different outfits! What happened to that dress?) and the view out the window at different points. I like capturing little moments that would otherwise be forgotten.
Where do you look for inspiration: travel, other artists, Pinterest?
I honestly believe anything can, and should, be inspiring to a creative mind. Sometimes it’s not obvious what it’s inspiring you towards – but just squirrel away that image or idea with the others and, when you look back, there’s a common theme that suddenly pulls together. I like Instagram for how eclectic it can be, and always like a wander round a gallery or exhibition to see things you might not be expecting.
What is the most challenging thing about being an artist?
Always comparing yourself to others, perhaps? I think it’s important to accept that there will always be people doing something similar to you, who you might feel are doing it better, but that’s not a reason to give up! Be inspired by them, but continue down your own path. There is no such thing as the ‘best artist’ – it’s so subjective. But that can be hard to remember, sometimes.
Who (dead or alive) would you invite to the perfect craft retreat?
Quentin Blake is a huge inspiration to me, the simplicity and life in his line is amazing. Judith Kerr, as well. We read a lot of Mog at home at the moment, and I love how her illustrations perfectly capture the snippets of home and family life.
What advice would you give to your beginner self?
Just start! And a reminder of that old line about not comparing your beginnings to someone else’s middle.
In one word, how would you describe this book?