Sketchbook: Ethan Bodnar’s ideas come to life on paper

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In this series where artists share their journals, we are pleased to present Ethan Bodnar’s sketchbook thoughts and images. Ethan Bodnar is already establishing a voice in the design world while studying at the Hartford Art School. He is the author of the book Creative Grab Bag and presented on the future of education at the 2009 AIGA Make/Think conference.

[Ethan Bodnar] For me, a sketchbook is something special. Sketchbooks act as a way in which to experiment and explore creativity. They provide a place for the documentation and recording of ideas, and are a way to collect inspiration.

At the start of this school year, I decided I would use only one kind of sketchbook, and that all projects and subjects would be in this same book. It is an 8.5 x 11 in. black, hardcover sketchbook with approximately 100 pages. Within my pages you can find all sorts of projects. On one page there will be sketches for a sculpture that I am working on that I will eventually weld together out of rusted metal, and on the next page will be rough ideas for a poster that will at some point be printed out on a high-end inkjet printer.

In addition to the large sketchbook I keep, there is a smaller one I use daily. It is mainly a list of things that need to be accomplished. Scattered throughout its pages are little doodles and random outbursts of creativity.

Drawing and sketching out ideas is normally my first step for a new project. It provides me the most freedom to try out concepts quickly. This freedom can’t be achieved on the computer. And looking back through my sketchbooks, I have realized that many final printed pieces of work actually look very much like my sketches for them.

There is a certain order and organization that these books provide for my creativity. To have everything easily accessible and all neatly bound into these books provides me an ease of mind.

I started keeping a sketchbook when I was taking art classes in high school, and ever since I have always had some sort of sketchbook. At times I would use it daily and then sometimes not for weeks, but it was always there as an outlet and a way to produce work. Today I use my sketchbooks on a much more regular basis.

I think that if I have a problem with the sketchbook format, it is that I don’t take the time to draw from life in them enough. Most of my pages are filled with sketches for design projects, but there is so much more potential to explore the world around me through drawing.

Sketching on physical paper is something that will never change for me. It is a way of being able to think visually and explore my ideas by having them come to life through ink and paper.

Ethan Bodnar is the founder and publisher of Synthesis, the blog of the Hartford Art School; president of the school’s Student Art Council; online director of the university’s student newspaper; and founder of the school’s AIGA student chapter. He was nominated as one of Print magazine’s New Visual Artists and in 2009 was awarded the Mohawk Fine Papers Award, a Worldstudio AIGA scholarship. Find him here.

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Comments (3)

  1. Posted by Debra Bartram on 03.23.10 at 6:42 pm

    I truly enjoyed viewing these sketch books by Ethan Bodnar. I am quite impressed and to think that he has already published a book as well. This college student is really going places. I look forward to seeing more work from Ethan and watching where he goes from here. I think his possibilities are endless. Keep up the good work, Ethan.

  2. Posted by Michelle Hebert on 03.24.10 at 10:54 am

    So awesome to see you using a sketchbook. Great job Ethan! Its hard for me to get inspired sometimes and I should be sketching more than I do. Those drawings and ideas made you the person you are today and I cant wait to see what your future entails for you! :)

  3. Posted by Lee Moody on 03.28.10 at 11:05 am

    dear Ethan, it is so much fun to have you engaging in all aspects of CADC and AIGA in CT. And equally delightful to follow your amazing career followed by many in the articles that have been in magazines and postings on sites such as this one. You are truly an inspiration to us all…..!

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