Creative students do a lot of writing in their sketchbooks. Here are some ways to make the writing that little bit more creative.

One of the main reasons students tend to avoid writing is because they see it as distinctly separate to their practical work. However, the two practices actually go hand in hand. Your work will not be able to improve if you don’t consider and analyse it from different perspectives. The process of writing about your work and progress will help structure and focus your thoughts and help you develop.

One way to join these two practices even more is to annotate creatively. This might be by writing over images, around them or using different techniques and processes for producing the writing. Your thoughts and ideas don’t have to be written in a sterile way, they can collaborate with practical experiments by enhancing the appearance of a page in your sketchbook.

Merging images and text is a really good way of finding systems for presenting thoughts in words that closer resemble an object, artefact or relevant information. Mind-maps are a perfect example of this.

writing creatively in sketchbooks

How to get ideas for annotating creatively?

Here are some ideas to help identify how writing can be an integral part of creative practice:

  1. Write something in every lesson.
  2. Reflect at the end of every lesson and see how you can combine this with your images you have produced.
  3. Look at examples of the creative writing of others’.
  4. Don’t be afraid to use your own handwriting.
  5. Try different ways of writing: large, small, neat, messy, joined-up, capitals only etc.
  6. Use different materials for writing such as pens, pencils, colours, paint brush etc.
  7. Get feedback on your annotation specifically.
  8. Look at examples of graphic hand-made typography.
  9. Don’t be afraid to write over images and combine writing and image in interesting ways.
  10. Write on different media such as acetate or tracing paper.


writing creatively in sketchbooks


Creative media for writing

Potential materials and processes to use when making annotation creative include:

  • Letraset
  • Type writer
  • Letter stencils
  • Letter stickers
  • Computer printouts
  • Handwriting
  • Sellotape
  • Coloured pens
  • White pen
  • Gel pens
  • Labels
  • Magazine titles
  • Post-its
  • Masking tape
  • Fine liner
  • Letter stamps
  • Dymo-label writer
  • Newspaper cut-outs
  • Acetate
  • Tracing paper
  • Coloured paper

writing creatively in sketchbooks

Daniel Freaker Daniel Freaker Educational Consultant, Painter, Writer, Designer