Drawn In: the Almost disasters plus Patrick Gildersleeves sketchbooks

Putting together a book of 44 artists is tough and things go wrong. I thought it would be fun to share a couple of the mishaps and almost-disasters that happened while we were working on Drawn In:

If you’re not sure what Drawn In is about- check out the previous posts to catch up here, here and here.

The book was originally supposed to be 45 artists.
When all of the sketchbooks were photographed and sent back to the artists (via FedEx-thank you for being so reliable!), I started sending out the interviews. All of the artists sent them back except for one. I couldn’t get ahold of Patrick Gildersleeves. He had disappeared! At first we were so worried, but then I found on his blog that he had left for a big trip and wouldn’t have email for a while. So we waited and laid out his pages. Weeks went by and we were on to a second review of the book and still couldn’t reach Patrick. I should have let him know sooner when I would need the interview and assumed he’d be available. Sadly, as time flew by we decided we had to cut Patrick from the book. We had great images of his sketchbook, but no interview and no signed release form. This meant I needed a replacement sketchbook and that I would have to plan a shoot for another sketchbook. I had two spreads to fill. How could I rent all that equipment again? Could I just change the artist count to 44? What about the page count… there were four pages blank?

Ultimately, I decided to use the leftover space to add an illustrated foreword to the book. I really liked Dave Eggers foreword to The Exquisite Book came out, so I decided to do the same type of thing again. I immediately thought of one of my favorite comic artists Vanessa Davis. I was thrilled when she agreed to work in my extremely tight deadline. She wound up making a funny, amazing series about sketchbooks that creates a great light-hearted start to the book. We were able to photoshop it so it looked like it appeared in a sketchbook. I am so pleased with the results- here’s one of the spreads:


I was super sad that Patrick’s sketchbooks couldn’t be included in the book and when he returned, he felt terrible that he missed the deadline. So today I wanted to share some of the pages from his sketchbook that we shot:







Uh oh it’s upside down!
When the book was all done, the files were in and it was off to the printer I was so excited. I had just run into Leif Parsons, one of the artists from the book, at the Outsider Art Fair. Leif was one of the few artists in the book who had a very different kind of sketchbook. He handed me a huge portfolio box full of drawings and called it his sketchbook. So we shot all his drawings as piles of loose pages. After seeing Leif at the fair, I emailed him and randomly decided to show him his spreads in the book since I was pretty excited about how good they looked. Leif emailed back something along the lines of-”cool (the drawing on the second page is upside down, but it does not really matter).” I read that line and almost had a heart attack! I opened up the file and saw, yes if you look at the drawing the right way there is a man(?) smoking a cigarette.

Here it is upside down (right top drawing)

Oh no! I felt terrible. I was supposed to be sensitive to this type of thing as an artist myself and as a fan of his work. I should have looked more carefully. The book had gone to press and it was a Friday afternoon. I immediately wrote my editor and designer at Quarry. They completely understood the mishap but told me it probably wouldn’t be possible to fix at this stage in the process. Leif seemed pretty unconcerned when I apologized but I still felt awful. Luckily, I got a email from Quarry on *Saturday* that they would be able to stop the printing and fix the error. Whew!! I was so happy and thankful to Quarry for doing that. My weekend got so much better. There’s is a little clue that this was once upside down though. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the shadow cast from his drawings is now at the top. But at least the funny smoking duck is visible:


After doing our first book, I’ve learned to expect to notice a handful of tiny mistakes when I receive my advanced copy. Making a book is such a long process so when you finally see the end result it’s a bit underwhelming. You’ve looked at all the pages hundreds of times so seeing them again, now bound, is not as rewarding as you might expect at first. For me the reward comes later. Watching people look through the book and getting feedback is the most fun part. I love hearing what friends favorite pages are or things that these drawings remind them of. With Drawn In, the biggest and most common compliment I’ve gotten is that the book has inspired them to revisit their sketchbook or start their own. That’s a wonderful feeling to know that maybe some sketchbooks have been used or started as a result of looking through this book.

Big thanks to Patrick for letting me share his pages and the story behind them! You can see even more from his sketchbooks right here.


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