Ken Carbone's Sketchbook

I consider my collection of journals as 5,000 pages of "beginnings," which is creatively liberating.


While working on the signage for the I.M Pei expansion at the Louvre in the late 1980s, I was shown Paul Gauguin’s personal journals, which are part of their collections. They contained drawings, letters and writings as well as vintage photographs and news clippings, and are visually spectacular. From that experience, I decided to start making my own journals.

The sketchbooks or journals I've kept over the past 25 years are a chronicle of life, the times we live in, a collection of ideas and obsessive experimentation. Most of the time my work in these books has no commercial purpose. However, once I put something on a page, it is "locked" in my database of inspiration and often resurfaces at just the right time for a project.

I consider my collection of journals as 5,000 pages of "beginnings" which is creatively liberating. On occasion I'll use these books to sketch out a specific concept. I like to challenge myself to find a solution to a problem within a single two-page spread. This constraint is both terrifying and exciting.

For the AIGA New York chapter's 30th anniversary poster, I sketched almost 20 different quick ideas. I chose the iconic slice of NY pizza as the strongest and most fun idea.

After the initial concept sketches, I painted a slice of pizza in gouache in my journal. Although I intended it to be a refined sketch, I liked the way it felt and decided to make a high-res scan of it and use it as final art.


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