A Sketchbook Overview

Backyard Sketch by Sam Bertram
Classic Florals by Sam Bertram
Lazy Unicorn by Sam Bertram

So what do you include in your sketchbook if you aren't drawing from the infinite lists found online? Everything is the short answer. As an illustrator your interests need to expand past visual art, artists and designers. You need to be a collector of information and things. This means you must be interested in everything from politics to the environment, to pop culture, and even historical facts. Becoming a curator of information, will help you in creating those sketches. Be sure to be observing the world around you. Go to your local coffee shop, train station, or mall and draw. Draw the elderly man drinking a coffee, the tourists waiting for their 3 o'clock train, or the children running through the mall food court. All of these things show that you are observing and taking in the information surrounding you. It is this information which will allow you to convey the solutions to the problems proposed to you from potential clients. 

Don’t forget, as an illustrator you are essentially a problem solver, an image maker and a designer. Your goal is to help your prospective client navigate their current problem, while producing a clear solution, using the imagery you create as the key communication tool. Whether this is through traditional mediums, such as oil paintings, or digital mediums using Photoshop or Illustrator your imagery must start with a rough piece. This is one of the reasons a sketchbook is so important. You're work will evolve and change as you weed out the less relevant concepts for your final illustrations. This is where your sketchbook will be used as a form of process or idea book. Whether it be rough sketches, composition drawings, or colour roughs, your sketchbook is where all of these ideas should start to take form. Showing this process in your sketchbook, gives those viewing it a look into your creative process, which is what universities such as OCAD U are looking for.

Finally, remember to use your sketchbook to explore and have fun. Although your expected to be using your sketchbook for rough work and concepts, you should also be using your sketchbook as an outlet to explore new mediums, express silly ideas, and draw what you are interested in. A sketchbook can be an expression of yourself, where all ideas, good or bad begin. Don’t be afraid to use a strange new color palette on a silly doodle of a unicorn riding a dragon. Or to make a tape drawing out of the new colored tape you found in the crafts isle of the art store. Make sure you enjoy the time you spend in your sketchbook. Schools, like OCAD University are looking to the sketchbook to see your thought process, and your experimentation. They want to see someone who is constantly observing and consistently creating.

Use your sketchbook as a tool to create, to observe, to retain information, and to experiment with new techniques, tools, and to express yourself and your works. Using some of these will create an excellent example of your work and yourself as a creator.

Samantha Bertram
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OCAD U Illustration student in the New York Times

lily snowden-fine
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lily Snowden-Fine is an OCAD U 3rd year illustration student from Vancouver, BC. Alongside illustration she also loves ceramics, jewellery and painting. You can find this work on her site lilysnowdenfine.com


The Illustrative Wit of Barry Blitt

Left -Donald Trump riding in a children's grocery store ride; Right - Person being pulled off an airplane
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 7:00pm

Join us at OCAD University for a timely and entertaining lecture by illustrator and OCAD U alumnus Barry Blitt.

Blitt has created more than 80 covers for The New Yorker magazine, as well as numerous other illustrations for the publication. His work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Time, Rolling Stone, and The Atlantic. Blitt has been honoured with exhibitions and awards from the Society of Illustrators, Print, and American Illustration, and is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

This President's Speaker Series talk is sponsored by the late Honey and Barry Sherman.

Please arrive early as seating will be limited.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Street Auditorium
Free (come early, seating is limited)

Illustration work on display on the 6th Floor

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - 7:00am to Wednesday, February 7, 2018 - 12:00pm

A showcase of third year illustration student work is currently on display on the 6th floor, 100 McCaul. 

The effective communication of a client’s objectives reconciled with the creative expression of the illustrator is explored through a variety of assignments in Illustration 3 and Illustration 4.

The work displayed is in response to two assignment briefs; a gig poster for a chosen musician or band, and a book cover and frontispiece from a selected list of novels.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul, Sharp Centre, 6th Floor

Go inside the studio of four recent OCAD U Illustration grads

Catch up with four recent OCAD University Illustration graduates who won a year of studio space with the 401 Richmond Career Launcher Prize.

Video created by OCAD U student Olga Kholod

Embed Video: 
Admissions Segment: 

WaterWorks by Terry Shoffner

Gallery Photo
Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 12:00pm to Friday, March 16, 2018 - 5:00pm

Terry Shoffner has an exhibition of his watercolour titled “WaterWorks” currently showing at Gallery 221 in Little Rock, Arkansas through February. He will be attending a reception at the gallery on February 23 to sign prints. This is his 3rd solo show in 2 years.

Venue & Address: 
Gallery 221 in Little Rock, Arkansas

From The New York Times

The Year in Illustration 2017

The Year in Illustration 2017

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:00am

Among them, 2 wonderful pieces- “What Not to Eat: The Case Against Sugar,” by Hudson Christie, 2014 OCADU Illustration Program Medal Winner, and, “How New York is Turning Food Waste into Compost and Gas”, by 2011 OCADU Illustration grad, Joren Cull.



Congratulations to Mathieu Larone

m. larone
Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 8:30am

Mathieu Larone, 2nd year illustration student does an illustration for the weekend edition of the New York Times, December 9, 2017.