I have been an artist for a while and I know a lot of artists. Sometimes, instead of making art, we do what other humans do — talk. Every now and then a topic of this one scary thing comes up and everyone chimes in with methods on how to deal with it.
If you are an artist, then you already know what I am talking about. If you are not an artist, then you must have googled “how to spook an artist” and now you are here. Worry not, you will find out soon enough.
As you may know, the first company that accepted one of my designs was TeeFury. It was in 2012 or 2013. TeeFury was then at the precipice of huge growth and the profits rose year by year. Around 2015 they must have run out of ideas on what to spend money on because they introduced a new incentive for artists to send in their designs. It was called an artist pack and it was a bundle of a few various gifts: markers, Lego bricks, pencils, stickers, gift cards, and so on. Every time your design got accepted for print they mailed you an artist pack and you never knew what you were going to get.
One time they sent me a small sketchbook. It was by a company called Field Notes, which I hadn’t heard about before, but it looked fancier than my usual sketchbooks, so I always remembered the name.
I’ve kept hearing about Field Notes over the years because every now and then they run a limited series of Field Notes notebooks. I’ve just checked their website and I can see that the previous series was based on National Parks.
Recently Field Notes did something new — they made a limited series called “Snowy Evening” and this one is truly unique.
Take a look at the picture below. Here are 3 sketchbooks, each with a unique cover:
Here’s the description from the store page:
Field Notes’ 49th Quarterly Limited Edition for the winter of 2020 is Snowy Evening, which features 99,999 unique cover designs created by artist Brendan Dawes. Just like the infinite shapes of a snowflake, no two notebooks are identical. Inspired by the physics behind how ice crystals are formed in the atmosphere, Brendan crafted an algorithm that produced and rendered 99,999 lovely snowflake illustrations.
There are 99,999 covers, every cover is unique, and the covers are NOT designed by artists. Every cover is made by an algorithm. An algorithm replaced the artists! Soon we might all be redundant when AI robots roam the earth and make art. That’s not what scares artists, by the way, I am just setting the context here.
Well, maybe some artists are scared that they will be replaced by computers, but no one’s worried enough to talk about it. Yet.
Now, there’s this thing that scares artists, which I mentioned at the beginning. And it’s this:
Yes. A first blank page in a new crisp sketchbook. The moment when you are about to start drawing the first thing in an empty sketchbook and you know that you will mess it up. The anxiety is so prevalent that there are “Conquering the first page” videos on YouTube and tutorials on overcoming the fear of the first page.
Now, starting a new sketchbook is scary, but let’s imagine something scarier. Here’s an idea. How about making the first drawing in a sketchbook that is special and one of a kind and so unique that among all 99,999 sketchbooks ever produced, there are no two identical ones? How about that? Would you draw in such a sketchbook? I can tell you that I would not, that if I ever got the Field Notes sketchbook from their “Snowy Evening” limited edition, it would sit on my shelf until I withered and died, and my grandchildren would inherit it, and they would keep it on their shelf until there came a generation that didn’t remember that the lonely sketchbook on a shelf was one of a kind, and they needed to make a grocery list.