• Benjamin Fisher

My One, True Sketch-Mate

I love sketchbooks. As a creator, they are essential for exploring concepts, ideas and working on rough drafts. And, of course, they're just outright enjoyable to get lost in. As a business manager, they're invaluable for recording and organizing information; ie tasks, reminders, meeting notes, etc.

Sketchbooks with hand-stenciled numbers.
The Ultimate Sketchbook for Project Managers

Since my first year in Architecture school, I have probably gone through hundreds of sketchbooks; most of which were misplaced before even half their pages were consumed and all but a few have been lost in the sands of time. Or rather were lost in the midst of many hastily-planned moves and relocations since those college days. Since starting with ARK I have however rediscovered my love of sketchbooks and now that I have a permanent studio with which to house them I decided to find, "the one". The one multi-purpose, utilitarian, portable, yet substantial enough sketchbook to effectively serve as more than a mere pile of loosely-bound cocktail napkins.

She's the One!

After extensive searching I can announce, I've finally found my sketch-mate! If your a Project Manager or Designer, you NEED these sketchbooks. First and foremost, the cost is practically unbeatable, at $26.00 for 10 sketchbooks, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal.

Besides the price, my favorite thing about these sketchbooks is the size, both in paper size and the thickness of the sketchbook. At 50 sheets, or 100 pages, these sketchbooks can serve as independent project records for most small to medium-sized design projects. For larger projects, you can simply index one sketchbook as its filled and then begin with another. I like that I can document everything from the initial design development, into design completion and ultimately through supervision of the project's construction all in one easy to carry, easy to reference location. The paper is a size A5, 8.5" x 5.7", making it super portable but also large enough to really handle the complexities of more detailed design sketches or lengthy client reviews. This size sketchbook also tends to allow for more space for your hand to rest whereas this becomes an issue on smaller sizes.

A5 journal with dot grid paper.
Dot grid Paper Perfect for Sketching & Note-Taking.

One of the other great features of this sketchbook is its use of the dot grid pattern printed on the paper. I like using dot grid paper as it allows me to use the sketchbook for accurate representational drawings of certain elements within the project like you would do with graph paper, but without the typical clutter and obstruction that becomes a common interference when using graph paper. The dot grid also allows you to easily organize your thoughts and notes which makes it perfect for serving as a record for meetings you have with the client, field crews, sub-contractors, vendors and all other consultants required to manage a successful project. I actually prefer the dot grid over regular ruled paper even just for note-taking; it leaves the paper less busy giving you the opportunity to highlight whatever you think is important.

Wait! There's more...

No, not really... That should sum it up!


The only drawbacks I've found would really depend on your method of sketching. The pages are colored a light cream, with just a hint of canary in them. This color works great when sketching with color as it makes the colors really pop but obviously if you prefer to sketch with a white pencil then this probably isn't the sketchbook for you. Lastly, the pages do experience some bleed-thru if you're using heavyweight markers. I tend to only use markers on trace paper and rarely even then so for me this was not an issue. I did test it out to show you though.