Revenge Of The Pencil Sharpener

Kirkland, August 4, 2015

Vancouver Cell Phone Boy
by GJ Gillespie
Engulfed in a World of Digital Words and Images, Old Fashioned Note Taking and Sketching Is Making a Come Back, says College Professor

WHILE THRONGS OF people go about the day welded to phones and tablet screens, texting friends, checking email, surfing news or snapping photos and selfies, a growing movement of counter-culturalists are stepping away from their computers, putting down their hand-held devices and picking up old fashioned notebooks to express their ideas.

Call it revenge of the pencil sharpener.

According to Merchant Words, an e-commerce analytic company, 665,000 people web search for "sketchbooks" and 1.46 million search for "notebooks" each month. Major bookstores now reserve whole shelves or tables to display blank notebooks and artist journals. Some books are lined for making notes, others have plush leather covers worthy of the poems, diary entries or stories recorded there. Art sketchbooks usually feature heavier paper, pockets for pencils and elastic straps.

The new demand for paper notebooks could signal a digital backlash in the culture, says communication professor and artist GJ Gillespie of Kirkland, Washington.
                                                                                                                                                              "We know that unplugging from the Internet and going off line for a day or so is good for mental
health. Keeping a notebook or journal is becoming a habit for those seeking solitude from digital distractions." 

In July, Gillespie founded Leda Art Supply to provide sketchbooks to artists and writers through Amazon. He points to research showing that note taking with a pen or pencil during a lecture, rather than typing on a laptop, significantly improves retention. Unlike typing, the act of moving one's hand while writing cursive somehow re-enforces the abstract meaning of words, making the experience of listening more vivid.

In his personal life Gillespie found that writing ideas down in a notebook or sketching in an art journal is a welcome break from the flickering kaleidoscope of images and instant information that dominate contemporary life.

As an artist, he knows the benefits of drawing. The exercise of making marks, doodles or sketches of people or scenes on a physical sheet of paper coordinates the two hemispheres of the brain, connecting the emotional right side with the rational left side. Writing and drawing becomes a way to get in touch with the intuitive part of our mind, helping us become more innovative thinkers.

The satisfaction that occurs in art making is the basis of art therapy, shown to improve the mental wellbeing of patients. Child victims of trauma are asked to draw a picture of what happened or what they feel, then discuss it with a therapist. These psychological benefits are the focus of Art with Heart, a charity in Seattle, Washington that uses art projects to help children and teens facing hardships. The group receives five percent of net profits from Leda Art Supply.

"Everyone can enjoy the benefits of making art. Purchasing a sketchbook is a simple way to start," says Gillespie who devotes part of his company blog to sketching tips. He asks, "You remember how much fun art projects were in elementary school, so why stop as an adult?"

About Leda Art Supply of Kirkland

Leda Art Supply of Kirkland is dedicated to helping artists make the world a more beautiful place. It provides Sketchbooks for Artists through Amazon.

Lost Lake by GJ Gillespie

About: Goodnews for Artists is an educational blog dedicated to spreading the word about better ways to sketch. Images here are for educational and journalistic purposes. 

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