by Sarah Jacoby

Scott Campbell’s Sketchbooks

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With MoCCA having just passed this weekend, I though it would be appropriate to take a look at the sketchbooks of Scott Campbell (Scott C.). He was at MoCCA, perhaps you saw him? He would have been at table D32 and had all kinds of books and prints in tow.

For those unfamiliar with Scott, he is a maker of paintings, illustrations, comics, kid’s books and video games.  In the past he worked at Double Fine productions as Art Director on such games as the critically acclaimed Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.  Alongside this career in games, he has published numerous comics and created paintings that have appeared in galleries and publications around the world. Some of his most notable projects include The Great Showdowns series, Igloo Head and Tree Head series, Double Fine Action Comics, Hickee Comics, and the children’s books Zombie In Love and East Dragon, West Dragon. The book Amazing Everything: The Art of Scott C. collects many of his paintings over the past few years. Scott lives in New York City. Find new work and more information at his website. 

Hi Scott. Hi Sarah.

Scott. I love your sketchbooks, you seem like you enjoy keeping them. Do you sketch for fun? Doodle perhaps?

I like to doodle but I don’t do it as much as I used to. A lot of friends around here enjoy getting together to have drinks and draw. I do that occasionally but sometimes I feel like I just want to have a beer, which probably isn’t that interesting to mention, but, you know, that’s just the way it is. Sometimes I look at other people’s sketchbooks and it seems like people use them to make contained art pieces in a way. It’s amazing. I’m a little less high maintenance.

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I agree that sketchbook treatment is so interesting-I’ve noticed people doing such different things. You seem to use your books in an organic way.

It’s funny, I actually use Xerox paper a lot to note my ideas. The only reason for that is that sketchbooks stress me out. I mean, they totally stress me out. They can be so performative. I have many unfinished ones. Like these. I want my ideas to be disposable. I don’t want my books to be perceived as “art” you know? I don’t want my books to make me look at my work in that way. You sketch because you’re exercising ideas. There’s no reason why people need to see my books. But I do collect my old Xerox paper. I have crates and crates of Xerox paper.

Wow, what are you going to  do with all that? Bind it? Do you ever look through the old stuff?

I’ve thought about doing that, but haven’t gotten around to it. It’s interesting for me to have for nostalgic reasons. Sometimes I see particularly enlightening times for me in my old paper crates. Or I try to use the old ideas to help me return to past mindsets. I always like to date my sketchbooks and paper, in that way these sketchbooks function a little bit more like a diary.

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Yeah, I see you have lists and little personal bits in your books too, recipes and such, right?

Yeah, I like to draw some random things or make lists so that I relax my mind and I’ll naturally start creating images and ideas. I like to have it be a space where I can do anything, not just draw. It’s easier for me.

I wonder how you work Scott. Like, when you think of ideas do you think you’re more of a visual person or do you write words and free associate and go from there? Or both?

I think a bit of both. Sometimes I’ll draw visual gags, but sometimes I can write faster than I draw. I go back and forth. The lists are just ways for me to remember stuff. Sometimes I think faster than I can draw and process. I dance between the two methods. I pirouette between the two.

Pirouette, eh? Well, do you have a favorite thing you like to draw to get into your practice?

Yes. I like to draw heads and mummies. I used to draw dragons, but now I draw a lot of faces, lots of eyes and noses and mouths. You know, the things that we all see in everything. I see faces everywhere. Maybe it’s a narcissistic to draw the human faces over and over again, but that’s helpful for me. It’s calming.

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Final question. Do think you’d be devastated if you lost your sketchbooks?

Even though I think of my sketchbooks as disposable, I think I would be sad if I lost them. I like to keep things. I don’t know what my plan is for the future, but even just to have them…maybe I will bind all of my Xerox papers. I think it’s good to have them…what’s the word I’m looking for..nostalgia?  I’ve been saying that a lot, huh? Well it is. It is nostalgic for me. I like remembering things and moments. Maybe it’s a bit pack-ratty, but I do like to have the books. I like to consider them disposable, but to never get rid of them.

Thank you so much Scott! Keep up with Scott’s blog, or follow him on Twitter .

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