Hidden in an unassuming building on a Brooklyn street serrated with empty lots and construction projects is a secret gem. High white shelves line an airy, quiet room with “welcome” written across the wall. Each shelf is jam-packed with varicolored spines and bound loose pages. This is The Sketchbook Project.
Housed in the small Brooklyn Art Library, the Sketchbook Project is a unique collection of works. Sketchbooks from over 36,000 artists, both celebrated and yet-to-be-known are gathered here. Volunteers have meticulously uncatalogued the collection by artist, country of origin, medium, subject matter, and art style.
Founded by Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker, The Sketchbook Project came from Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 and found its home in New York in 2009. Online, over 70,000 artists share their work and inspiration with one another via the Project. The Brooklyn Art Library is merely the storefront version of that greater collective. It’s open to the public on weekends, Friday through Sunday, and by appointment otherwise.
On the website, a link that reads “Participate” encourages visitors to become involved. For a fee, interested parties receive a blank sketchbook and drawing supplies. For a little more, one can have their completed sketchbook scanned and added to the collective whole online. It’s free to submit a book to the physical library, whether it will be the one in Brooklyn or part of their traveling exhibition, which visits schools and libraries along the East Coast.
2017’s exhibition is already full, but the themes for 2018 have been announced:
- This is not what it seems
- Lines and graphics
- Long stories with short endings
- A comic book ending
- No worries
- People I wish I knew
These are only suggestions, of course. Each artist is encouraged to draw whatever inspires them. Those who want to participate in 2018’s June exhibitions must sign up before January 5th and postmark their sketchbook before April.