TinkerSketch Instagram Sketchbook Challenge

It turns out that April will be a month of creative challenges here on TinkerLab! First up, we have the Creative Challenge for Kids, and secondly I’m excited to introduce our first Instagram challenge for all of us sketchbook fans: the TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge. TinkerSketch Sketchbook Challenge on Instagram

We first introduced the TinkerSketch Project a couple years ago, and without too much fanfare I’m happy to say that over 700 images have been tagged with #tinkersketch on Instagram. What’s a TinkerSketch? Click over here for more on that.

What’s the goal of the Sketchbook Challenge?

If you’re like me, you probably lead a busy life. 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. If you join this sketchbook challenge, you’ll:

  • Improve your 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?

If you accept this challenge, you will set aside just five minutes each day aside for making, creating, and experimenting with your ideas. If you have extra time, you could always dive in for longer, but your minimum commitment is five minutes each day.

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

But my stuff is sure to suck.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

It might, or it might not. The point here isn’t to create a masterpiece but 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 do you Recommend?

Our 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? We 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.
  • Strathmore: One of my very favorite sketchbooks is the Visual Art Journal for Mixed Media by Strathmore. The pages weight is 90 lb. and you can get this book in a number of sizes. My personal favorite for on-the-go is 5.5″ x 8″. If you like to work big, they have one that’s 9″ x 12″.
  • Stillman & Birn: A friend just gave me a Stillman & Birn Zeta series and I love it. The paper is 180 lb.
  • Pens: 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 they come in tons of sizes and colors. This all-black set includes a few different pen sizes and this brush-tip set includes six different colors. Sharpies are another wonderful choice with so many options to choose from.

Will there be any support?

For each day of the challenge we’ll share our own daily entry on Instagram and Facebook, along with a few extra ideas in case you need a little bit of inspiration. We 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.

I’m in! How do I do this?

  1. Print out or bookmark the list you see at the top of this page. Each day has a new prompt that will inspire you to make something.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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, Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Basically, wherever you like to drop your social media mat. Simply tag your image or post with #tinkersketch, and you could also ping us at @tinkerlab to let other people know about the challenge
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Anything else?

If you have any questions about the prompts or other parts of this challenge, drop me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them. Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for supporting TinkerLab with your purchases.


  1. I remember seeing this challenge on IG a while back. Has it been two years? I also remember wishing I had started from the beginning with my two kiddos. This time around its on. I can’t wait. Now to get us some sketch books. What kind/size do you recommend?

    • You know what, it’s only been a year and a few months. Why am I trying to speed up time??? 🙂 I just edited the post to include some sketchbook recommendations. I’m so glad that you’re joining us, Stephanie!!!!

  2. I’m definitely in, Rachelle 🙂 My main goal is to find some time for myself and the Scatchbook Challenge is a perfect way to start. Maybe I’ll encourage my three kids to take the challenge, too. Lots of LOVE!!

    • Fantastic, Agata!! I’m so glad that you (and maybe you’re children) are joining me 🙂 It will be a great experience, I’m sure. See you in a couple days…

  3. I’m IN! Trying to get my sisters & daughters involved, too. I’m going on a holiday away from home but hoping I can get still get all of them done & hopefully not too horrible to share, too. 🙂

    • Yes!! Giving yourself this little gift is going to be worth the effort. Of course you can always double up on days that you’re hiking/caravanning/indulging. Enjoy your trip and we’ll see you and your family on Instagram.

  4. I have a nearly empty sketchbook sitting on my desk that has been calling out to me these last few weeks. I have two kiddos, and it’s definitely hard to make time, but I’m really excited to try. The idea of having “creative time” sketching alongside my preschooler seems like my best bet!

    • That’s all you need — some paper, a little time, and a bit of enthusiasm. One of the nice surprises in sketching alongside a child is to see how modeling creativity sparks their own interest in making/creating/drawing. I’m so glad that you’re in!

  5. I’m in! The visual journal for mixed media by strathmore is a favorite of mine too, I’ve been enjoying the 9 x 12.

    • Hooray, Heather! Isn’t that journal great? I just filled my last one and it looks like it’s time to pick up a new one.

  6. This is so much like my assignments I had for my Art I class I taught. This is such a great practice and I’m so glad to the student (in a matter of speaking) on the other side of the project this time. Just read this tonight but I’m surely going to do this along side my two little ones. Thanks Tinker Lab 😉

    • BTW sorry about that horrendous post putting the kids to bed grammar. Eek! Anyway, nighty night. We get drawing in the morning. 🙂

      • It must be the art teacher in both of us, Alexandra! I’m so glad that you’re joining in. You know I’m a huge fan of your work and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  7. I love this idea! Would you mind if I share this page on my blog to inspire more people to join the challenge?

    • I would LOVE that, Marieke!! Thank you for helping spread the word. Anything to bring more art and creativity into the world makes my day.

  8. Do you think a 4.5 year old is too young for this?

    • Not at all, Kim! If you look through the stream you’ll see that there are a few people involving children much younger than yours. I hope you’ll join us! ~rachelle

  9. Thank you so much for the sketchbook challenge. We did it and it changed everything for my 6 year old. She started Kindergarten this year at a traditional school where there is no creative art (none!). We get home those cookie cutter crafts that all look the same. She was an artsy, creative girl before Kindergarten but I just stopped organizing and encouraging her to be creative since she started school. Well me and my 6 and 8 year olds got sketchbooks and a new set of markers and we have spend hours sitting on the floor together sketching. My 6 year old is on her fourth sketchbook (and she hasn’t touched a colouring book all month). I have never been artistic and initially was uncomfortable with the idea of me having to sketch but I saw some examples and it spurred me on. Now, I don’t feel stupid when I sketch something, I just do it and accept it. As a 40 year old it is a new experience for me to do art — I have always been crafty. Anyway, thanks so much for the inspiration and motivation.

    • Hi Marie! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the sketchbook challenge! I LOVE hearing that your 6-year old has gone through 4 sketchbooks already. Oh my! You should pat yourself on the back for fostering imagination and creativity. So much of their enthusiasm undoubtedly comes from how you’re modeling for them.

  10. I love this! My kids and I all have sketchbooks and this is fresh inspiration! Thanks

    • You’re welcome! I’m hoping to have more sketchbook resources for my readers soon.

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