I love my aeropress. It’s a great way to get good coffee, doesn’t take much space and has a fun, kinetic experience (press that plunger!) So I made a sketchnote love letter to mine.

Can a love letter have a complain (my issues with removing coffee grinds?) regardless, I wanted to show my simple technique for using an aeropress. It’s not the sort of thing that would win me any of these aeropress championships, but it works for me.

About the sketchnote

I used my leuchttrum notebook and two Faber castell pens in small and 1.5 for most of the sketchnote. I also used a Faber Castell brush pen in black for the brush letter “Enjoy” and a grey one for some shadows. I wanted to try a slightly different headline style for the main item. I didn’t spend too much time on the text within the sketchnote but the main headline and images were more important to me.

About three years ago I started getting interested in calligraphy. It was born out of my desire to improve my teaching board work so that students could read my writing more clearly…and because of the repeated mention of lettering from the sketchnote army podcast.
My initial explorations were very rough and disparate with no clear practice or routines. Unsurprisingly, I made little or no progress.
But a year and half ago I finial went along to a calligraphy lesson.
This was very different.

  • It was planned
  • The activities were repetitive
  • There was a style to emulate

At that time I was struggling with what St. John of the cross called “the dark night of the soul”. My mind was a mess of thoughts, considerations and darkness. Things felt bleak and thinking didn’t help.

Calligraphy got me into a state of flow that helped clear my mind. It didn’t have an immediate effect and I need some good conversations, a resetting of good routines and some time to process thoughts slowly but I emerged the other side.

This Wednesday I went to a calligraphy class again. It wasn’t to escape the pit, but to elevate up to flow again. I chose a different style (copperplate) using equipment and techniques I was unfamiliar with to increase the challenge.

I hope to continue these classes as this mindfulness practice does my soul a world of good…and it’s just cool to write well.

I can still remember the moment when Darth Maul ignited the second blade of his lightsaber. George Lucas had wisely hidden the second blade for maul’s first fight so the second fight, when we already knew Maul was dangerous, is a real level up.

While I might not have a single lightsaber blade (yet) I have been dual wilding micro pens recently with a micro 0.3 and 0.8.

These two pens were part of a set of five that I bought going from 0.05 to 0.8. I’ve used many of these pens at different times (although the 0.05 immediately broke when I first reapplied the lid) but for some reason, I seem to have gravitated to these two as my everyday carry pens.

Nestled within my Nock Spaleo Kickstarter case with a Field Notes notebook, they provide a handy portable set for jotting notes down, adding to my Hobonichi or, importantly, sketchnoting.

The 0.8 works brilliantly for header sections with its extra width and boldness. Doubling up the lines works well for titles too. It also suits icons.
On the other hand, the 0.3 can provide fine text, lines for connecting ideas and small checkboxes. But the real magic is when they combine.

  • the 0.8 can provide the outline while the 0.3 adds the details,
  • the 0.8 can form the bulk of my letters while the 0.3 adds serifs,
  • the 0.3 can make the checkbox and the 0.8 can resolutely mark them complete.

I don’t need to bring a second micron along, in fact, I could use any old pen. But this set up works well for many different situations and I enjoy them.

One of the comments in Walter Issacson’s biography of Da Vinci really stood out to me. He mentioned that Da Vinci grew up in a notaries’ household so he had access to paper and experience in notetaking, but paper was a precious commodity for him so he filled every part of paper with sometimes seemingly disconnected ideas.

These seemingly disconnected ideas, maths formulas next to drawings, might explain his creativity and how he saw the world differently from other artists.

That reminded me of how Austin Kleon’s recently described his studio.

My studio, like my mind, is always a bit of a mess. Books and newspapers are piled everywhere, Pictures are torn out and stuck on walls, cut-up scraps litter the floor. But it’s not an accident that my studio is a mess. I love my mess. I intentionally cultivate my mess

Creativity is about connections and connection are not made by siloing everything off into its own space.

Austin KleonKeep Going

After reading a call to arms like that, I made sure to use my commonplace book more freely. Quotes don’t have to stay separated and gaps should be filled.

My pricy Leuchttrum notebook is a beautiful mess.

  • There is scribbly handwriting next to intentional penmenship practice exercises.
  • There are quotes next to summaries of blog posts.
  • There are lists of podcasts I’d like to see next to sketchnote icons I was practicing.

In the feature image you can see the first page of my latest notebook. I usually make it a page to test pens and see how they work on the paper but sometimes I try and come up with a clever word or something. I made a mistake while writing and that worked out even better.

It’s taken me a long time to get over the notion that a beautiful notebook should only contain fancy, good looking items but now I relish ruining a good notebook. It’s the only way I can get myself to use one.