A Brief Anthology of Faculty Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks have been our personal receptor for cataloging ideas, notable moments, and projects. We fill them with writing, drawings, inspirations, receipts, and errands; they grow into a mental map that we keep close to our chest. It is a format that is accessible, one that we trust, and that we always return to. 

To work in a sketchbook is a means towards investigating time. They develop and change much as we do: one minute, they are precious and kept close. In the next, their pages document another part of our journey, stacked on top of past entries. The sketchbook exemplifies how time collapses into a project. The selections presented here outline moments of life lived, choices made, and thoughts considered and recorded. 

Joseph Altshuler

"This spread captures a moment in the early brainstorming process of the installation "Make an Anthropo-Scene" that my practice Could Be Architecture (in collaboration with Cosmo Design Factory) designed for the AIADO Hallway Gallery in the Spring of 2017. It seems fitting to reveal a moment of that process for this exhibit occupying the same location."

Kazuki Sebastian Guzman Anno

"Whether it be a drawing or a sculpture I work very small at the beginning. The grids keep me safe; nothing is scarier than a piece of large white paper when it comes to sketching. After making a whole bunch of drawings, I like to rip off the pages from the sketchbook, pin them up on the wall, and try to see if there is any recurring themes or forms that I’m unconsciously attracted to. The first set of drawings explore different ceramic cup ideas while the second set shows my struggle in designing anything during my wife’s pregnancy."

Jessica Charlesworth

"Sporting their signature black smocks and chapter insignia, Charists would meet monthly on the eve of the full moon. Festivities bagan once the crop of biomass contributed by all-comers had been weighed, loaded into the retorts, and lit. The Char-Master would announce the yield (the amount of C02 that had been sequestered from the atmosphere) and this figure along with the date, would be engraved on a Char-Dolly, and presented to the Charist who had contributed the most weight."

John S. Clark

"Sketchbooks should be unprecious and functional spaces to work out ideas, throw down potential families of forms, try to test related adjectives and verbs, get a grasp of scales and rhythms, bounce between sectional and 3D diagrams of a spatial problem, and generally work on one's assertiveness with a pen."

Odile Compagnon

"I use only one sketchbook at a time, they usually last me about 3 months. I write everything in them, from shopping lists to lectures, book and film reviews, meeting notes and poems. What I go back to with most fondness are the little doodles I do during desk-crits with my students at the beginning of a semester. This is what I remember their projects by and check how the ideas have evolved from one desk-crit to the next."

Ryan Deemer

"Drawings can become captured performances and convey time, impulses, and movement in many ways. In these drawings, lines shift and bleed through a pen, taped to my hand and left on a blank page to mark the sense of time as I slept from one city to another on the EuroRail. Overlapped they represent multiple trips."

Peter Exley

"Travel sketchbooks have been part of my practice since first visiting the US in 1980. This particular sequence begins on March 18, 2016 in Tokyo, and records visits to Venice, Turin, Milwaukee, Austin (where this sketch was made), Buffalo, Charleston, Washington DC, Princeton, and concludes with a solitary Chicago sketch at the Field Museum. Typically I record notable architecture and dining experiences."

Neil Frankel

"Having utilized the exact same formal sketchbook/journal for over 25 years, these samples are culled from over 65 books. The format in dimensions matches the drop down tray table on an airplane, the paper is archival, the pocket in the back cover allows for accumulating mementos and the books are cheap! The intention is not art but rather rapid communication of thoughts, memories, and values."

Mejay Gula

"This was developed from a catalogue of sketches and notes drawn directly on my road atlas during long road trips alone or with a good friend. Despite the accessibility and ease of Google mapping and phone photography, the exercise of putting pen to paper granted me time to dwell on a moment that had just happened, memorializing it deeper into cognitive memory."

Linda Keane

"We sketch and watercolor favorite jaunts when touring with students as they discover these locations as faneurs during their summer in the city and outlying trips. Our sketching encourages students to make their own and we share stories of what they observed, discovered, appreciated, learned. Sketches are great conversation starters for narratives that connect people with place and certain times in their life."

Seth Keller

"For me, the sketchbook is an archive for ideas. Drawings within are there to remind me of a material I like, a breakdown of parts, lists of things to do, or variations on a formal theme that interests me. Interestingly, when I look at my sketchbooks over the years, some of the same drawings occur again and again, which tells me that if I revisited it as a drawing, I should probably make that thing."

Thomas Kong

"My Sketchbook

(Silence) - It is my quiet companion.

(Madness) - It records the beginning of a desire, a delirious force that sustains the search.

(Wandering) - It travels with me, drifting, but with a clear sense of commitment."

Anders Nereim

"I draw by hand but I don't use a sketchbook. Back in the day I would explain and refine concepts with students by drawing with a fountain pen on layers upon layers of pieces torn off of a roll of tracing paper. For myself, I always wanted to make the time to sit for awhile and draw in order to really see something. I use blocks of thick paper in case I want to add gouache to my drawings."

Pete Oyler

"Drawing is an integral part of my design process and takes various forms depending on intent. These drawings are the beginning of something that has yet to be defined. Unlike technical drawings which are a necessary part of my work, these are not meant to communicate anything concrete about form or material or scale. They communicate a sense of curiosity and my want to materialize something that is not yet tangible."

Tim Parsons

"This spread is from a sketchbook I made shortly after arriving in Chicago eight years ago. Through looking at photo albums with my Mum I discovered my great grandad Henry Ingham designed a device for making sandcastles without using a mold. He was an engineer at a mill in Lancashire in England and must have been well acquainted with lathes because his device is essentially a lathe for sand."

Hennie Reynders

"These are Three Cities; little drawings in response to meaningul spatial experiences in Chicago, London, and Barcelona after my first visit to Chicago as a Visiting Artist in September 2000."

Marthe Rowen

"I have been drawn to an expanded notion of travel drawing in pursuit of the depiction of space and place. Through the use of extreme attenuation of the drawing frame, and the idea of drawing while in motion, one arrives at a kind of literal mode of travel drawing. The panorama drawing expresses the rotation of the body and allows for the depiction of space as the eye moves. Thus does this drawing of the Venice Arsenale Norte take the viewer on a small journey of the eye."

Jonathan Solomon

"I filled this book with drawings I made while listening to things: conference calls, the violin lessons I bring my son to Wednesday evenings, occasionally in meetings, or while listening to the radio. We tend to think that if someone is drawing they can't also be listening. Doodling, we call it, and assume it means the mind is wandering."

Paola Aguirre Serrano

"I started thinking about Borderless in 2011. Since its inception, the idea was of a collaborative framework. The selected spread features the parts and narratives of the framework - the scaffolding - that would allow this project to become a platform for exchange, research documentation, and production of ideas. Borderless officially became my urban research and design practice in 2016. 

Tristan d'Estree Sterk

"In his book called Toward a Scientific Architecture, Yone Friedman lays the foundation for changing the role of design in the built enviroment. He argues for developing automated processes that integrate with building fabric and that architects, interior architects, and designers everywhere must become programmers. These sketches consist of my notes, taken while developing a search algorithm built to find better materials and geometry for interior and exterior building components and/or skins."

Jim TerMeer and Jess Giffin (studio giffin'termeer)

"Over the past 5 years or so, we have been using 3D scanned objects in our work. Some have been used for specific projects, others have been scanned for the sake of seeing how they would scan, or as a kind of calisthenics. Over time, these scans have developed into a large collection. A cardstack, like these shown, are a tool that we use in the studio to keep track and help with our collaboration."

Learn more about AIADO faculty members and their work here.