Notebook Art – Joel Cooper

Every creative swears by their notebook, even in these days of technology and smartphones. We know we do! It’s somewhere to capture ideas, to take notes when inspiration strikes and make a quick sketch if there’s no sketchbook handy. We have noticed a growing number of artists taking this one step further, using the humble notebook to create beautiful pieces of art. Beyond just doodles or scribbles, these artworks are striking and boldly stand up against art on canvas.

We are featuring a different ‘notebook artist’ each month. This month we feature the very talented English Illustrator, Joel Cooper. Joel is an illustrator and graphic recorder based in East London. He studied fine art at Falmouth College of Arts. He splits his time between his home studio, which is a short walk from the Olympic park, and drawing live graphics at conferences, workshops and large scale events all over the world, from China to the USA.

We are featuring a selection of intricate works by Joel –  and spoke to him about his favourite notebooks and what inspired him to use notebooks to create works of art.





What is your favourite notebook?
I’m a bit of a notebook hoarder and I have a large collection of all different sizes and brands. I can’t pass through an airport or bookshop without picking one up. I have two sketchbooks on the go at the moment, a small A5 Moleskine notebook, which I predominantly use for taking notes at events and sketching ideas during client meetings and a large A4 sketchbook that I draw in for my own amusement and personal development.

Why do you use a notebook over canvas or other mediums?
Time is a rare commodity these days, between all the client work and two small children to look after I don’t have much of it. Having a sketchbook that I can grab and doodle in for ten minutes while the kids are in the bath or when I’m on a train coming back from an event is really important. Although I studied painting and would love to get the old brushes and oil paints out, it’s definitely a process that needs uninterrupted time.

How have notebooks have helped your brand as an artist?
I wouldn’t say my sketchbooks were at the forefront of my brand, but they are the foundations of what I do. They are invaluable when I’m working live to capture content on the fly, as well as in the studio, where all the early planning for my illustration work happens with pen and paper before being turned into something digital.

Why are notebooks more than just a jot pad?
These days nearly all the work that I do for myself happens in my larger sketchpad, so I definitely see it as more than a just jotting pad and more as a work of art in its own right.

Why should people customise their notebooks – is it an expression, identity or something quite personal, therefore should it be personalised?
I used to customise the spines of all my sketchbooks so I could easily go back and find a specific one that I was looking for, revisiting old sketchbooks is a great way to find inspiration when you feel it is lacking. Unfortunately I don’t really have the time for that anymore, but It’s definitely the kind of thing I’d be thrilled to receive as a gift!

You can see more of Joel’s amazing work at







Tell us what you think of #notebookart ? Do you create notebook art, If so we would love to see your works!