The world’s biggest crowd-sourced sketchbook museum and community space

On the wekeend I decided to visit the Brooklyn Art Library it was closed for a private event. A wedding. There was a white SUV parked with gold lettering that announced, JUST MARRIED. I stood outside like a long forgotten relative who was about to gate crash the wedding. Some of the guests looked at me, askance. I became too self conscious to take any photos of the building’s interior.

I had been there before, in its primary function as a library and reading room. There is no doubt, this is a magical place to celebrate life and love.

Located along Frost Street in Williamsburg, New York, near Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Brooklyn Art Library is home to the Sketchbook Project, the largest collection of handmade sketchbooks in the world. Towering white shelves against white walls hold over 35,000 sketchbooks personally doodled by artists from more than 135 countries.

While two art-school friends — Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker — were running a small gallery in Decatur, Georgia they decided to start ‘projects’ to get more people in the local area involved. The Sketchbook Project was just one of many, but it was the one that just took off.

Peterman, who is one of the co-founders and also doubles as the project’s director, told New York Magazine:

The idea came because [we] didn’t know how to get into a gallery. We envisioned this egalitarian community where anyone could exhibit work without some complicated process.

When they decided to move the project to New York three years later, the project scaled and continues to flourish. It’s hybrid character as a space, publisher, library owes much to their background as gallerists, printmakers and graphic designers.

The Sketchbook Project is the world’s only crowdsourced sketchbook library, which currently boasts a community of 70,000 active artists.

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Tinashe Mushakavanhu

Tinashe Mushakavanhu

Notes on literature, media & technology.