'120 drawings of...'

The volunteering journey took me through quite a few turns during the spring and summer. The current biggest mark in this process is a start of a new series of drawings that emerged from a new meeting in Spain. Thanks to my host there, I met an artist, Juan Petry, who offered me to take part in his project called Art Surprise. His refurbished cigarette vending machines sell small, original art pieces in 70 different locations, and the drawing category was in need of some more pieces. This sounded like a fun challenge. I saw that it could be a combination of a new drawing practice, a new way of knitting the travel/drawing story and an opportunity to distribute my work in more unexpected directions.

I was still keen to continue with my favourite subject, architecture, but the questions was, how to reduce and alter my drawing technique to the 5x8 cm format that was required? So it became a process of exploration and learning. It became a practice of trying to capture the most important from the objects and  giving a sense of space for the viewer. Details were stripped back and only the rhythm, scale and perspective was left to dominate. It was a continuous test of how to portray something without the use of colour, without the option to show the character of the building material and small, decorative details. And it had to be swift. The aim was to spend no more than 5  - 8 minutes on each drawing, to train the eye to find the most important, to not become too precious, to be brave and give the line one chance to take it's direction on the paper without any preparation, without and corrections afterwards.

And the second question was, what would make it more engaging? How to make it into something more than just a little hand drawn snapshot of a street that is unknown to the viewer? So somewhere from my memory came back the idea about frottage - a technique I learned about in the third year of my architecture studies. This gave the opportunity to deliver a 1:1 print of the specific location to the viewer. But this still did not feel like deep enough journey. I wanted the viewer to have the opportunity to find out more about the place it is coming from. The options where between name of the street, geographical coordinates or the ' What 3 Words' app that I use while travelling. The last option seemed more fun since it involves a combination of three random words which then became a unique title for each drawing. Here are 'only' 120 drawings, but this practice will not stop. It is much too fun to leave it at this!

'New Year, New Name'

The new year arrived with a few changes. Short before December I ventured out on a volunteering journey around Europe (difficult moral decision at the time of climate change, but so far I have managed with one flight - EasyJet promises to offset the carbon footprint - 4 trains and 3 coaches with long distance connections). This move meant that the online shop had to close. I made a big box of sketchbooks and left them for sale at 'Deptford Does Art Cafe' in London that specialises in selling local artists' work. Cool place, I really suggest to check it out! In the meantime I am using the time to develop my drawing skills and am happy to take on commissions -  have my pen and paper with me.

Second equally big change - Sparrow has flown away and has been replaced with 'Nomadic Sketch'. Turns out that no matter where in the world you are, the market is one and it's small. Another business on a different continent and in a different craft had claimed the name first, which meant I had to move on and give up mine. I opted for an adjective that would describe many sketchbooks' lifestyle - Nomadic. Furthermore, during all these years I have changed my 'studio' place already four times - and still on the move... So I welcomed the unexpected request to choose a different name, and here it is: 'Nomadic sketch' it will be from now on. The flying bird logo will stay, it's still representing the same forward moving, always changing approach.


Completely unplanned and unexpected turn. I am back to drawing and this time I am sharing them rather than storing under the bed in a dusty folder. A few month of practicing and refreshing and style polishing has come to a new collection of architectural and other technical ink drawings/sketches.

Hope you enjoy looking ;)


'Tribal Sparrow'

It's not a secret that the sketchbooks and the whole approach to this small business is strongly connected to my personal understanding of things. It has almost become an experiment to see if I can offer something to people in the crowded market by following my own rules: enjoying what I do, doing only what follows my morals (at that time - they keep developing), staying as honest as possible to myself in the process, keep it clear what I am offering, focusing on what really matters. There are more things but this would be the main and short version.  

Right now I just went through another, small re-evaluation process. It has been a few years since I started this sketchbook making and selling process and in this time I have gone through yet another personal growth. My background is architecture - something I studied for many, many years, something that was my target profession since I was a teenager. The skills and approach to things always strongly showed in anything I did - even outside architectural work, including the books I make. However I never stopped questioning why certain things are done in a certain way, I never stopped analysing this profession that carries a very specific way of communication with it and almost requires a person to be of a certain character.

So in short because of all this questioning I have taken a turn away from architecture and decided to listen to myself more, to understand even more why I do something the way I do, why I care about certain details so much. And that's when I felt it's time to redesign the logo. It did not fit with my current feeling. I sensed that the way it was represented something more of how I used to work. The more corporate, formal and over controlled look has been replaced with something I thought would be more approachable. A jolly, tribal looking sketch of a flying bird that tool me only an hour to finish. More careless because it's only a logo. I feel that the right people will see it and understand what I mean.  Yours always and truly,  Sparrow

'It consists of...'

...5 parts and 11 steps.

- Paper
- Thread
- Glue
- Fabric
- Cardboard

They are recyclable or recycled materials. I am not sure what real book binders would say about this technique but I am basing it on experience and tests which speak for itself - the books last and hold strong. In short it is stitched and glued together using the most common binding method however there are small tricks that actually make it work. By a pure accident the very first one worked perfectly and only later on, as I tried to improve the process and materials, I realised how important it is to pay attention to which glue and how much of it is used or how much pressure applied.

Materials and diagram are simple but the "putting together process" is full of detail keeping the it always interesting. The best part - there is always space for improvement, change or experiment therefore  feedbacks and suggestions are always welcome!

'The mystery of "East"'

Thanks to the short summer experience at "Harrington and Squares"  two years ago, I have a brief knowledge of letterpress printing. One of the most exciting things right now, while the cover designs are still in the development phase, is the block designing and printing. Any drawing or image can be turned into a polymer  block (or metal if you fancy something more long lasting). This then later can be used to put through a press and print and print and print. But the story is not so much about the technique this time. It is about how the way of looking at things from a different perspective is now present in one of the prints.

It revolves around the fact that I (and I suspect many other people) have this automatic, deeply bred desire to strive for the perfect, and only when I let go of that feeling, the making process becomes more enjoyable (and really life too). "Focus on the road ", focus on the main reason why I am doing this and what really matters for the user. This could be a very long and interesting topic to talk about in a wider context but here I had a way to test it and apply to a smaller situation. A situation where two days were spent to prepare a drawing which was sent off for the printing block manufacturing and only when it was already delivered it was pointed out to me that there is a spelling mistake on it. On this drawing, which contains cardinal directions, where it was mean to say "E" for "East" it said "A" for - who knows what!

At first a disappointment and frustration came - another one of my spelling mistakes! The painful hit for the wasted time and money that I will have to spend even more to correct this. But luckily I have people in my life that in these situation look at it calmly and in a different light. After a short conversation it was not an unpleasant mistake anymore. It was just something made by a human being. Something that might just cause a curiosity and question what's behind this letter "A"? Just a hint of unexpected and maybe funny once the story is heard. There was no-more a reason to re-draw it and re-make it again, no need to spend more material just to change one letter that really and truly does not change anything, most likely no-one cares about, it just does not matter one bit, if anything it can be amusing.

So here it is - a printed drawing with a spelling mistake - thanks to a problem that I have always struggled with but hey, I'll just own it and smile at it. At the end of the day - it is all about how we look at things, the perspective. The things we do should be about having a good time, about growth and process.  So a big "thank you" to the the people who are always curious to look at things differently and can be a support in each others journey...

'Materials as they are'

I am not much of a writer but feel like I have head full of ideas that want to get out.  When I do write I try to get away with honesty, yes - I just admit I can not write very poetically and often grammatically correctly due to this being my second language. So I use other people's words to express some thoughts. At the end of the day I am not so original, whatever I am doing or saying, someone has done it before. The trick is to come across the right book and the right quote.

And so in last year at university I red some chapters from Tanizaki's essay "In praise of shadows"  where he describes the beauty of the most simple things and the way they age (1930s Japan - plenty to immerser yourself in). His way of seeing things and details from a different perspective comes not only from Japanese culture but is tied with the ability to simply be, stop for a moment, open the eyes to the world as it is and see the richness all around you, starting from a simple wood grain on the table to the relationship between light and shadow.

Apart from the beautiful and calm description of such world view, I finally had found something like a brief summary to how I had always felt about materials that are in use in our every day life and found a confirmation to the feeling that some materials that are used to make most common items have managed to turn the whole idea of it's purpose upside down. For example the shiny sink taps. A few drops on it and it does not look right because it was sold as a shiny object that shows not indication of how to age in harmony with the drop marks or scale, how to look like the material and marks were just meant to be together eventually.

Here in Tanizaki's words:

“As a general matter we find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes it to a fine brilliance, but we object to the practice. While we do sometimes indeed use silver for tea-kettles, decanters, or sake cups, we prefer not to polish it. On the contrary, we begin to enjoy it only when the luster has worn off, when it has begun to take on a dark, smoky patina. Almost every householder has had to scold an insensitive maid who has polished away the tarnish so patiently waited for.”

('In praise of shadows' Tanizaki, 2008, p.5)  

Bringing out and seeing the forgotten details and sole of materials that are regarded as too simple and unexciting. What I am trying to say  -  this is how the cardboard, paper and binding technique came together. And this is why a suggestion - use them. Connect with the work you do and forget about the sketchbook and it will start living with your experiences and carry part of the story on every surface and corner.

'The beginning'

In 2014 I had a spontaneous idea to make a sketchbook. I had some sugar paper left over from my studies plus I wanted to get back to drawing. Two years and around 50 sketchbooks later I had decided to explore how much I can develop the idea and process of making. In September 2017 I set myself a deadline that my website and everything else would be up and ready to run by the end of October 2017.... well 8 month later I was still sitting with my laptop in front of me and fiddling with text and thinking - what does this whole thing mean to me, why am I doing it? So at the end it turned out that the main question was - how to get the idea across as I had realised that making the sketchbooks is not just a business for me, and it is not just a product that needs selling. How to explain why they are the way they are, why the material choices, why the process at all.  


Anyway, this is it, at least for now. It's out for you to test it and judge it. I could try to push it and polish it but things in life flow despite all the plans we ever make so lets see where this will take me.