Those who know glass and jewelry designer Maggi Blue would find it hard to believe she struggles with self-identifying as an artist, but that’s the tough knot she’s working on at the moment. The actual work of jewelry making she has no problem with, it’s what Stephen Pressfield, author of The War Of Art calls her resistance, that holds her back from claiming the term, “artist.”
What is behind this resistance? Fear. Fear that the work might not be good enough. Fear that people may not believe her. How many of us working in the creative arts struggle with this? It’s so damn universal, that fear.
So how does Maggi work through the fear?
The reason why sketchbooks are the perfect receptacle for journeymen, apprentices, novices, and artists-in-training is that they are not supposed to be the finished product, just as a journal is not supposed to be the final draft. They are visual repositories of inspiration, possibility, alternatives, sometimes, doubt, scratched out criticism. They allow the artist stay in the wings and practice a few more lines before stepping out into the hot glare of the spotlight.
For Maggi, the sketchbook was the catalyst that gave her permission to declare her full-time intent to be an artist.
“This sketchbook was really important because it was on the heels of my decision to create a body of work based on sketches in jewelry, which is the medium that I’d chosen, in the field I wanted to move into," she said. "Finally after however long of dabbling in jewelry and crafty stuff, I finally found the cojones to call myself an artist. And because of this sketchbook, this has been the first time I’ve ever done that.”
Here is the inspiration behind some of these sketches:
Things I hope to accomplish
The way I do my sketchbooks is that they are sketchbooks for everything; for my to-do list, for work, for clients, things I’ve got to do around my house, or family. And sketches for jewelry I want to make. I try to do it all in one sketchbook, because it’s all pretty much connected in the end. And I believe you can see here (she points to a name above a jewelry sketch) this is where I found out who my child’s kindergarten teacher is going to be.
Wide view of same page
I thought it would be interesting to take a wide view photo of my sketchbook on my studio table. As you can see I have random jewelry making on one end and on the other side I do glass.
On the first page of my sketchbook I just did a random doodle to start myself out creatively, so when I look at the first page I remember this is creative sketchbook, it’s not just a to-do list.
List of clients and list of to-dos
So, one side I put Post-It Notes on pages like the client to-do list. On the right side of the page I’ve got orders I need to fill and supplies I need to order. So it’s not just a sketchbook, but also a repository, because you never know when ideas are going to come. I could be writing a to-do list and I flash to a new piece I want to make. So it’s kind of nice to have the whole thing right there.
Blue and green bubbles
The funny thing about this is when I had a jobby job in 2009 and this was the only creative highlight of my day. I felt the need to make a sketch of things I had on my desk to start my day and this point in time, I had highlighters. And so, this was my way to be nimble and creative that had nothing to do with my office job.
Aerial view of Death Star where Obi-Wan Kenobi disables the tractor beam
Maggi didn’t actually doodle this to look like an aerial view of the Death Star during the scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi inches out onto the circular platform to disable the tractor beam so that the Millenium Falconn can escape….but she sees it now.
“God, what a dork,” she laughs.
Portland recently featured The Sketchbook Project 2013 at SPACE Gallery. Uniting more than 10,000 artists from over 60 countries, it’s a traveling library of artist’s books. The Pilot would like to do a local version of this project and is actively seeking more Midcoast artists who would like to share their sketchbooks and stories that go with entries, particularly around:
The sketchbook has to be more than a journal—we're looking for a visual documentary of ideas. Please contact us if you’d like to be in our Midcoast Sketchbook gallery firstname.lastname@example.org