A little while ago I was catching up on Austin Kleon’s wonderful blog and read his piece on the importance of revisiting and revising old notebooks and it got me thinking about revisiting old sketchbooks. I don’t revisit old rough books that often, but I’m making a concerted effort to dip into them every once in a while, now.
1. It reminds you of the importance of keeping a sketchbook
I’ve written before about the struggles I’ve had in keeping a sketchbook. It’s only something I really got into properly last year, and since then I’ve certainly had blips. But taking the time just to skim through an old sketchbook is a great reminder of what you can get out of the process. Personally, it also gives me a sense of pride when I get to go through a full sketchbook – a feeling I always want to recreate.
2. It shows you how much you’ve grown
Seeing your old work is a great way to evaluate how far you’ve come, in whatever it is you’re making. In a world where’s increasingly easy to compare yourself (unfavourably) to others, it’s really refreshing to compare your present-self with your past-self. I can guarantee you will have grown. But you might also find something in you did ages ago that you want to go back to if you feel you’ve lost your way.
3. It’s a great source of ideas and inspiration
On that note, going through past work allows you to revive old ideas. Quite often you end up abandoning work you do in a sketchbook or at least parts of it. Revisiting those ideas can help you come up with something new. Just because something didn’t work then doesn’t mean it won’t work now. You will have new perspectives, you will have grown (see point 2) and you will have new bits and pieces of ideas you can stick together. So, if you’re feeling like you’re in a creative rut, or like you’ve got creative block, why not try reaching back inside of yourself to provide that inspiration?
4. It gives you the opportunity to revisit and revise work to make it better
This is only something I’ve only started doing recently, with super old Instagrams, but reworking old pieces can be really rewarding. I feel like we’ve all had the “ugghhhhh” feeling when looking at something we made a few years ago. Revising those pieces with any new-found skills or in a different format can be a great way to get some practice. It’s often more of a technical challenge where you are out to beat yourself. This is one for if you have some downtime and want to work on your skills – I know some people who revisit the same piece every year to see what they can bring to it afresh every time.
Do you revisit your old sketchbooks or rough work?