When I'm working on a new creative writing project — be it a novel, or a play, or an album, or anything else — I like to do my first drafts by hand in a notebook. Sure, my handwriting is utter shite, but it helps free up my mind. It gets out of my head, so I stop self-censoring and get into the flow more easily. The contents of the notebook tend to be a mess of scratch-outs and chicken scribbles that don't make sense to anyone else, but once I translate that into the computer, I usually end up with a better product.
Moleskine notebooks have been my go-to for years; I'm certainly not unique in that. Their rigid covers help them stand up against the stickiest dive bartops (where I often write), while still being lightweight enough to transport in my backpack, even when I'm biking with a laptop.
The problem is, I end up with a pile of black notebooks that are hard to differentiate. (And I have gone through a lot of notebooks.)
Moleskine's new Studio Collection offers a neat solution to this. Instead of their simple monochrome covers — traditionally designed a feature, not a bug — the company teamed with visual artists from across the country to create unique cover art that pops:
• Vibrant, curvy shapes and saturated colors of Italian illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli
• Colorful folkloric artwork of Ohio-based Dinara Mirtalipova, who hails from Uzbekistan
• Abstract floral compositions of Oregon-based artist Yellena James, who grew up in Sarajevo
• Ultra-modern landscapes of Chinese artist Yukai Du, who now lives in London
• Haunting and mysterious world of Swedish artist Jon Koko
• Dreamlike visions of Spanish illustrator Sonia Alins
If you're interested, each of these artists spoke more about their inspiration and design process at Fold Magazine.
Moleskine sent me copies of the Jon Koko and Olimpia Zagnoli notebooks that I've just started writing in. I don't know that I'd exactly subscribe to the focus-group-perfected marketing claims that these notebooks are "a reflection of the global world we live in" that "let ideas grow and the creative spirit to thrive," but they definitely look nice. And there is a surprising comfort in assigning a visual aesthetic to the projects I'm working on in each respective notebook, rather than just plucking them off the pile of anonymous black Moleskines, having to figure out which one to carry with me or open up in the morning.
The company boasts that the packages "frame" the covers — suggesting they could be, ya know, hung like frames upon completion, which might be kind of nice. But really, they just come in a grey cardboard box with an open front to display the art. They're hardly durable, although they do include some mounting holes, so I guess they are intended as practical frames.
These Moleskine Studio Collection notebooks are a little more expensive than the company's standard unmarked notebooks. But it's worth it if you like the design, or want something to make them stand out. Personally, I'm excited to dive into these, especially since it'll give me a break from the awfulness of the Internet. I guess it's kind of dumb to rely on a decorative to hack my productivity in that way — but hey, if it works, it works.
Moleskine Studio – Sparking the Imagination [Fold Magazine]