Welcome to Sketchbook Exchange! We are Daphne and Vicky and we’ve been exchanging sketchbooks full of ideas, drawings, and ephemera since 2013.
We are Seattleites, passionate book lovers, and obsessives about all things art, particularly sketchbooks. We met at a large tech company in 1999, where we spent many years tied to our phones and computers and next to no time pursuing outside interests. We’ve both since changed direction in our careers and now devote more time and energy to our creative habits. One of the ways we figured out how to do that was by developing a Sketchbook Exchange (SBEX) with one another, and then starting more exchanges with other artists, writers, and friends.
We started our SBEX small, literally, with a 4×6 notebook—a gift from a mail-order catalog company we both loved. Thin and compact, it made for easy exchanges to slip into the mail every few weeks. We’d jot notes to each other, taking the journal with us wherever we went, and it became a way to share time, even though we were almost 5,000 miles apart. We included scraps of paper we collected along the way, receipts, stickers, menus, pictures.
Our little journal exchange grew from a way to stay in touch and involved in each other’s lives, into a full-blown artistic endeavor, a welcome creative habit in our very busy lives. The 4×6 notebook ballooned up to 8×10 and shrank down to 3×5. We’ve used Moleskine and Croquis, Royal & Langnickel, and Plumb, and our mediums change too. From ballpoints to Sakura Microns, crayons to Copics, from jotted notes to complex art projects. Our journals transformed into sketchbooks, more about exploring our creative selves than simply keeping in touch. We found ways to express our frustration and anger and sadness or longing. Sometimes no art at all, just words. We shared encouragement and praise through post-it notes and marginalia, sometimes adding to a page that felt open to collaboration.
Nearly a dozen journals later, we’re still going strong. The only constant is that one of us always has the sketchbook, and that it’s eventually going to find its way to the other.
Sketchbook Exchange helps spark real, analog connections and we think that’s something the world might need right now. A medium for friends who want to stay in touch. For people needing a break from their phones. For those who want to try something new, but need partners to keep them engaged. For anyone who wants to start or maintain a creative habit. When the sketchbook is with you, you have an tangible object calling to you to write or paint or create. When you send it away, you get a break, with the promise of it coming your way again before too long.
We’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org