If you know watercolor paper, you know The Perfect Sketchbook.
The Perfect Sketchbook is the magnum opus of world-class watercolorist Erwin Lian - an artist with the audacity to call his product “Perfect”... AND the expertise to back it up. (Plus, he’s just a generally cool dude.)
In 2014, Erwin crafted the original Perfect Sketchbook in response to a problem affecting watercolorists of his caliber: “Why do all the highest-end sketchbooks compromise on paper quality?”
For most artists, things like “Grain Flow”, hand-torn edges and hyper-specific niche paper millers don’t matter all that much.
...But to artists like Erwin: who refuse to compromise on even a single detail, who know the value of the best paper money can buy and have the funds to back it up...
This one’s for you.
[ Below: @j_pastores took his Perfect Sketchbook for a walk to the city hall. ]
Specs for The Perfect Sketchbook: Signature Series
We’re excited to be releasing the first run of The Perfect Sketchbook: Signature Series in our store on August 3rd! We’ll be announcing the exact launch time to our Mailing List so make sure you subscribe if you haven’t already.
The “Signature Series #1” drop will be limited to a batch of 1,200 books. To celebrate the release, we’re including something special…
There will be 10 Golden Llama tickets randomly hidden away amongst the first 700 books that go out the door. The lucky recipients will be sent our exclusive Golden Llama enamel pin to add to their collection - not even Ânia has managed to sneak one out for herself!
- Size: B5 (27cm x 18.5 cm), Portrait
- Slightly smaller than A4, the perfect size for composing your paintings in different formats.
- Polyurethane cover material (vegan friendly, as always)
- Finest Watercolor Paper
- 44 pages of Italy’s finest watercolor paper, Fabriano Artistico ®
- 100% cotton paper (cold press 300GSM)
- Both sides sized for painting
- Cotton paper starting from the first page
- Chart colors from your palette
- Devise color strategies
- Deckle & hand-torn edges
- Deckle edges of our paper are preserved on the page edges
- Pages hand torn to match aesthetics
- Book binding
- Case bound and glue reinforced
- Grain Flow
- When we bind these books, we make sure that the paper grain of each sheet is parallel to the binding edge of the book. Grain directions will never be mixed.
- Pages won’t resist turning
- Pages won’t flare outward
- Book won’t snap closed when you try to open it
[ Below: The Perfect Sketchbook in use by @marvinchew ]
Erwin initially released The Perfect Sketchbook on Kickstarter back in 2014 and after a highly successful campaign he sporadically released new books for his customers as a labour of love. We reached out to some backers of the original product (and fantastic painters) Marvin Chew, Justin Pastores and Steve Mitchell (Mind Of Watercolor). We cover...
- How good do you have to be to start buying quality materials?
- When do you use The Perfect Sketchbook?
- How do you choose your supplies?
- What do you want to achieve with your work?
Some artists think they aren’t ready for good, quality supplies. When did you realize that quality matters when making art?
MARVIN: I realized this very early on in my artistic pursuits.
When I first started painting in secondary school, I immediately noticed the difference between a good natural sable brush, and a cheap, synthetic nylon brush. So, I saved up most of my pocket money and bought my first Japanese sable round brush. I took me several months, but imagine the joy of using a quality brush for the first time. Totally worth it!
Now that I paint for a living, I only use high quality supplies (brushes, paints, and paper) to ensure that I am always providing myself with the best resources possible, and to assure my clients that they get their money’s worth when investing in my work.
JUSTIN: I started out with my older brother’s leftover materials, most were student grade products.
As a beginner at the time, I didn’t know any different until I was introduced to 100% cotton rag paper. I noticed how watercolor glided along the paper and immediately I fell in love with the texture and feeling.
Afterwards, I committed to only use high-quality materials. It helped with performance and elevated my results, which encouraged me to continue creating.
STEVE: I was fortunate that my first watercolor instructor insisted on good quality supplies, especially good paper. I started out painting on Arches cold press blocks.
I actually didn’t realize just how much good supplies mattered until I was much older and working professionally as an illustrator. I tried to save some money a few times by buying cheaper paint, brushes, and paper - and after a couple of painting catastrophes, (mainly with paper,) I realized why my instructor insisted on such good quality.
When do you use your Perfect Sketchbook vs. your other sketchbooks?
MARVIN: I use my Perfect Sketchbook whenever watercolour painting is involved.
I like to do quick watercolour sketches and try out different colour combinations, mixing them on paper wet-on-wet, which only works well on 100% cotton paper. This is where the Perfect Sketchbook always comes in handy.
Sometimes I’ll try certain techniques on my Perfect Sketchbook first, before doing it on the actual painting on a larger scale.
STEVE: I primarily use my Perfect Sketchbook on location, where watercolor is the primary medium.
Really the only time I revert back to a cheaper, non-cotton sketchbook is when I’m doing line and watercolor wash technique, where drawing in pen or pencil is the primary medium with simple washes added to it. In such cases, layering or heavy painting technique isn't as prevalent.
JUSTIN: I use the Perfect Sketchbook very sparingly. After the Indiegogo campaign and then the Limited Edition release, I got very sentimental about using them. I’ll run through about 4 ordinary/subpar sketchbooks, and then treat myself to open a new Perfect Sketchbook. I’m very pleased to hear that Etchr partnered with Erwin to continue producing the books. Now I can open more Perfect Sketchbooks without feeling guilty!
[ Below: one trip to Disneyland means a bajillion of mindblowing thumbnails in @j_pastores' Perfect Sketchbook. Can you pick a fav? ]
When choosing art supplies, is there any one thing you're VERY particular about?
MARVIN: Yes, I look for quality above all else. (And whether I have the know-how to make good use of it.) I was very supportive when Erwin pitched the idea for The Perfect Sketchbook using 100% cotton watercolour paper.
However, most high quality artist grade supplies aren’t cheap. So, they have to fit the budget of poor, starving artists. (Myself included! :-D) I'm always on the lookout for affordable quality supplies with good value for the money. (Or when there's discount!)
STEVE: Quality, 100% cotton watercolor paper is a must. Good brushes and paint can make a difference too, but quality paper is key.
JUSTIN: I used to be. My only requirement is that the materials are made of high quality.
I love trying out new things that you hardly see in stores, like all the Etchr products. Plus other things available in art stores, like different brands, tools, and materials. It's good to open yourself to new things that spark creativity.
[ Below: Behold @marvinchew's work. Mesmerizing. ]
What is your goal with your work?
MARVIN: My style is very much influenced by both Chinese ink painting and calligraphy; as well as Western art.
I paint quite a variety of subjects… A typical village in Malaysia, some fishing boats mooring along the jetty, or a busy street scene in Singapore - but I try to capture not only the physical attributes of a place, but more importantly, the essence of the place. I paint as if I’m a storyteller, usually giving some insight or hints of everyday life in my work – the people, their habits and activities, their way of life.
STEVE: My favorite subjects are landscapes and portraits, but that said, I’m primarily interested in depicting interesting light.
A subject can change completely under different light. Light creates and accentuates the mood, drama, and form I strive to capture in my work.
JUSTIN: My main goal is to feel comfortable using any medium that I’m introduced to.
Gouache, watercolor, pens, and pencils each have a specific finish and process to them. Once I feel like I have a good handle on one, then I find the opportunities to mix and combine the best qualities of what each medium has to offer, to create something new and unique.
Don't miss out!
Not every artist cares about securing the best supplies they can buy - but too many artists settle for subpar materials.
Even if you aren’t ready to invest in The Perfect Sketchbook: Signature Series, don’t sell your work short! You deserve quality materials, whether you’ve been painting for two years or twenty. We created The Etchr Sketchbooks (our affordable sketchbook range!) because we believe that!
If you are ready to work in the best sketchbook on Earth... (yeah, I said it!)
[ Below: Steve (@mindofwatercolor). I have no words. No. Words. ]
As mentioned: The Signature Series #1 drop will be limited to a batch of 600 bundles of 2 books. Don’t forget that the first 350 bundles might just include 1 of the 10 Golden Llama tickets :)
PS: If you have any questions about The Perfect Sketchbook: Signature Series, drop them in the comments!