We asked NYC-based Samantha Dion Baker about sketch journaling, her new book, and morphing her passion into her career.
Tell us about your Copic Colors piece for August.
I draw every day in a square sketchbook. The drawings are a reflection of all of the things I do, see, eat and experience throughout my days. So when I was asked to create a piece using your August colors, I decided to use my journal as a starting point and approach the entry as I would any other daily page. I didn’t let the three-color limitation alter my everyday process, and when it came time to add color, I simply used B24 for the darkest tones, B02 for mid-tones and Y00 for the highlights. I think the effect is so fun!
What led you to sketch journaling and why are you such a proponent of it?
I think everyone should find a way to document moments—big and small, good and bad—whether through photography, writing drawing, or all of the above. I have always kept a combination of a journal and sketchbook in order to keep hold of my time, as I think it’s the perfect way to combine a creative practice with memory keeping. Not only does it allow me to look back on how my artistic skills and expression have changed, as I would see in a simple sketchbook, but I can also look back on how I spend my days, what I think about and what I choose to highlight. It’s also a gift for my husband and kids, as I am documenting our lives together. It has layered benefits and is something anyone can do.
You've worked for some pretty prestigious clients as a graphic designer. What made you make the switch to creating primarily your own work?
Part of the switch was purely by accident! After spending years working on a computer, I just wanted to learn to draw again, so I dedicated a few hours a day to practicing. The drawings were seen by some friends and clients, one thing led to another and suddenly I was an illustrator. I have always worked by hand whenever possible. My handwriting is a tool I have used since college, and I would create small drawings or hand drawn lines when I felt I could get away with it in my design work. I think I always wanted to do the work I am creating now, I just didn't know it. I feel very fortunate that my passion to work by hand has morphed into a new career without expectations or a set path, but very naturally and organically.
Your book, Draw Your Day, comes out on 8/28. Congratulations! What can people expect from this book? And where can they preorder it?
Thank you! I am very excited. The book shares details on how I began drawing my days, tips for creating your own similar practice, recommendations on tools, and it simply encourages creativity in a personal, safe space. The illustrations are detailed and could be considered intimidating to beginners, but I strongly believe that anyone can create a visual journal, even if you don't “draw” your day in the literal way. You can splash color, make patterns expressing your mood or the weather, write your thoughts and memories around in a circle, create stick figures like you did when you were a child. There are no set rules, and every journal is beautiful! You can pre-order the book at any bookstore, Amazon, or just follow the links on my website. And International orders can be placed through Book Depository.
You're a big fan of Copic Markers and Multiliners, and we were so flattered to be included in your book! How did you first discover us?
I think I first discovered your markers at a Blick store in NYC. I was beginning to get into a groove illustrating my days and was experimenting with color. I bought a small set to start, and quickly got addicted to collecting them. The ink is so rich, and I love that you can layer it to create depth, almost in a painterly way. I discovered your Multiliners when I created an illustrated alphabet with a type foundry in Chicago back in 2014. The art director there was sharing his lettering work and raved about his Copic Multiliner. I bought one and immediately loved the way the ink rests on the page, and how it is fully waterproof.
What words of encouragement do you have for design and art students starting out?
There are so many ways I would love to answer this question, but what it all boils down to is practice and dedication. Nothing comes immediately, and if it does, chances are you will get bored pretty quickly. So practice, take lots of classes, find your own style, and don’t give up. Mistakes and embarrassing work will always happen, and are a necessary part of growth. But it’s by working through the mistakes when the best artwork and ideas occur. I would also suggest taking classes in classic figure drawing and perspective if you are a design student, and take classes in typography and basic layout/composition if you are an art student. These seemingly opposing skills will benefit any artistic endeavor.
Follow Samantha Dion Baker on her Instagram for sketch journal pages, Facebook for client work, and www.sdionbaker.com.