What’s the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge?
TinkerSketch is a daily sketchbook practice that invites you to experiment and play with ideas and materials in a low-stress, fun, and mind-stretching way. Each day you are presented with a new prompt. It’s up to you to interpret the prompt however you like. For example, for pattern, you could collage a pattern of sequins to the page, design your own pattern of circles and dots, take a photograph of a pattern that catches your eye, paint a pattern inspired by nature, and so on. The possibilities are endless.
Who is this Sketchbook Challenge for?
If you’d like to jump-start your creativity with a daily mark-making routine or establish a more regular art journalling practice, this challenge is for you. The stakes are low and it’s super easy to do, even if you have no experience or low confidence with making. And if you’re busy, the time commitment is minimal.
You might have had some time to nurture your creative soul at some point in your not-too-distant past, but with kids, work, chores, responsibilities, name your excuse, you don’t have a lot of time for the creative YOU.
The goal of this challenge is to make time (even if it’s just a tiny bit) to celebrate your creative self through hands-on making.
What will I gain from this?
If you join this sketchbook challenge, you’ll:
- Improve your drawing, painting, mark-making skills
- Try and explore new ways of art-making
- Land on new ideas that wouldn’t have emerged otherwise
- Have fun
- Model creative thinking for your child (if you’re a parent or teacher)
- Celebrate the imperfection of your ideas
- Think creatively
- Give yourself the gift of time
How long will it take?
While you can spend as much time at this as you like, just set aside five-ten minutes each day aside for making, creating, and experimenting and you’re in business.
Great, but 5 minutes is still a lot!
There are so many ways to do this. For example, you could:
- Wake up a little earlier than usual, brew a pot of something warm, and curl up with your sketchbook for a few minutes before the rest of your home wakes up
- Carry a sketchbook in your bag and pull it out when you’re waiting in line
- Designate “creative time” where you and your child draw in sketchbooks side-by-side
I’m REALLY not an artist. Are you sure this is for me?
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan
This is for everyone, truly, and you are not expected to make a masterpiece with this practice. Rather, the point is to unleash your creative energy. Your creations don’t have to be works of amazing art, and in fact they probably shouldn’t be all that spectacular, especially if you’re pushing yourself to try something new, experiment, and be bold. Be confident with whatever you create, knowing that you’re on a journey to feed your creativity.
What Sketchbook and Tools will I Need?
This list contains affiliate links
While you can certainly go all-out and buy a ton of stuff for this month’s challenge, it’s not necessary. I’ll share some of my favorite tools in a minute, but you will basically need just a few things, and there’s a good chance you already have them:
- You will need a sketchbook (this is my favorite) or a ream of paper
- Some mark-making tools like pens and pencils
- Paint and brush
- “Attaching” materials such as glue and tape will come in handy
- Collage materials such as scrap paper, newspaper, old homework, or magazines.
My best advice is to visit an art store and test out sketchbooks to see which one feels right to you. That said, here are a few tips.
- Size. Find a size that fits your situation. If you think you’ll take your sketchbook on the road, find something small enough to travel in your bag
- Paper. Choose paper that is heavy weight and designed to withstand water and wet media. Look for the weight of paper in terms of how many pounds it is: the higher the number, the heavier the weight. Something over 70 lbs. should do the trick
- Spiral or book-bound. Do you think you’d enjoy a spiral-bound book or traditional binding more? I recommend spiral binding because the pages lie flat easily. Some people like traditional binding more because they can design/paint/draw a double-page spread without having a gap between the pages.
- My favorite Sketchbooks. I have two favorites in this category for working with both wet and dry media. Both of these books can handle paint. Strathmore Visual Journal is made of heavy duty paper (90 pound weight), perfect for mixed media, and comes in a few sizes. For easy, on-th-go journaling, I like the 5.5″ x 8″ journal at $6.89. I also like the Canson Mix Media journal that’s 7″ x 10″ for $8.19. A friend just gave me a Stillman & Birn Zeta series and I love it. The paper is 180 lb.
Favorite Mark-Making Tools
Get yourself a few pens that you love to use, and be sure to have at least one waterproof, archival pen in the mix so that you can paint over your pen lines without worrying about your drawing bleeding with water. Micron Pens are a designer favorite (and mine, too!), and they come in tons of sizes and colors.
- My favorite pens. This all-black Micron set of six pens ($10.95) includes a few different pen sizes and this brush-tip set ($10.95) includes six different colors. Sharpie are another wonderful choice with so many options to choose from ($11.78)
- Watercolor Paint. I highly recommend the Opaque 24 Color Watercolor Set from Pelikan ($20.15). I also adore the Sakura 24 color field sketch set ($19.00) for on-the-go painting as well as the Windsor and Newton 14 Colour Pocket Box ($19.00). If you don’t want to go crazy, a standard kids’ watercolor set will do just fine.
- Colored Pencils. Prismacolor Colored Pencils. Set of 72 for $46.99. Prismacolor Colored Pencils, Set of 24 ($13.63) These can be pricy, but they are the BEST colored pencils in my opinion.
- Rubber Stamp Markers. Le Plume II Double-Ended Markers with Brush and Fine Tips are useful is you like rubber stamping. Because you can draw with them directly onto the stamp, they give you a lot of creative freedoms not afforded by regular ink pads, Primary, Set of 12 – Writing Markers. ($18.15)
- Detail Paintbrushes. Thin brushes for watercolor or acrylic paint. 15pcs Nail Art Painting Pen Brush. These are an amazing deal and I have two sets because of that! ($2.41)
See our Resources Page for a full list of recommended supplies for tinkering, art journal keeping, and art making with kids.
Is there a community for this?
Instagram: For each day of the challenge other Instragrammers (is that a word?) will share their work on Instagram (don’t forget to follow me!). There are two accounts that you will want to follow:
I encourage everyone who joins the challenge to leave supportive comments on other participants’ images. Since it can be hard to put ourselves out there, it’s always nice to receive a friendly pat on the back when pushed outside our comfort zone.
Do I Have to Share my Work?
No sharing required! Some of us are motivated by sharing, since having others look at our work holds us accountable and we enjoy the feedback and community of sharing. However, you can follow the daily challenge, even peek in on other people’s work on Instagram, and never share a thing.
Can I do this with Kids?
Can I see Examples of How this Works?
To see images from TinkerSketch past, click over here or search Instagram for #tinkersketch. You’ll see so many inspiring entries.
I’m in! How do I do this?
- Print out or bookmark the list you see at the top of this page or below. Each day has a new prompt that will inspire you to make something.
- Interpret the Prompt: You can interpret the daily prompts however you want. “Drips” to one person may mean flicking watercolors off a toothbrush and to another person it might mean covering a page in marker and then leaving the page outside on a drizzly morning. You can take them literally or not — this is completely up to you. If you’re really at a loss, leave a comment below and we’ll help you noodle through it.
- Make stuff: You could put all your ideas into a sketchbook (it is called a sketchbook challenge, after all), loose leaf paper, post-it notes, or something else.
- Share it! This challenge can be a totally private affair and you never have to let a soul know that you’re working on it, or you could share your creations with others. I’m a private person, but I find that sharing things like this actually motivates me to work harder. If you’re up for it, we invite you to share your daily sketches on Instagram. Simply tag your image or post with #tinkersketch. You could also ping me at @tinkerlab to let other people know about the challenge
- Tell others. If you could use some back-up, share the Sketchbook Challenge calendar image from this post on Instagram or with a friend, and encourage others to join you on this fun, creative journey.
- Support others. Take a moment to cruise around and look at other images that are tagged with #tinkersketch, and leave a supportive comment to build community and basically make someone else feel great about the effort they’re putting into their creative journey.