Illustrations on used moleskine journals

1 . Studio 1

Whoa! No! This girl repurposes her old Moleskine journals to paint pictures of birds with gouache, graphite pencils and aquarelle? There are too many of my favourite things in one sentence. I love Moleskine , I love birds and I love illustrations.

I was grinning like someone who had just seen Beyoncé in person.

Stumbling on Fran Giffard’s illustrations was a massive disintegration of time. It almost felt like serendipity. For so long I had thought that there is no pleasure in the world bigger than going through old journals and discovering those little adventures and narratives that consumed your days and shaped so many memories. But there is.

Skimming through someone else’s journal!

Discovering a trail of notes, reminders, lists among magnificent plumage of birds so beautifully sketched and painted, you want to look away to readjust your eyes to all that creativeness. Fran Giffard is a London-based artist whose work combines a wonderful sense of colour against the white backdrop marked by the memories of days gone by. The result is incredible body of artwork that captures the natural elements of ornithological world. It’s just the sort of work that makes you want to know more about the person who created it. So here is Fran Giffard quelling our curious minds. Thank you Fran for interviewing with Blank Paper Project.

Single . Amethyst Starling

To start of – What inspired you to create your beautiful and intricate ornithological drawings on Moleskine journals? 

I was given an expensive sketchbook many years ago, and I wanted to fill it with drawings of birds from the Natural History Museum in London. However, I was so nervous at wasting the paper, that all of my drawings were tentative and bad. I decided to do some practice sketches using my Moleskine diary, and found I really liked the combination of my bird drawings along my notes and diary entries. I drew more confidently and enjoyed the compositional challenge of fitting drawings of birds in the spaces left by my notes.
A pocket framed
Give us a sneak-peek into your typical day. What does a ‘A Day In Life of Fran’ look like?

My studio is in my home so I can start drawing as soon as I wake up. I spend all morning and early afternoon drawing. I listen to various audio-books and BBC Radio 4 while I work. I always go for a long walk in the afternoon and enjoy sketching the taxidermy birds at my local museum, The Horniman. On other days I feed the birds at my local park. On returning to the studio, I’ll draw for the rest of the afternoon, breaking to cook supper. I love cooking so this is a fun diversion. Depending on my schedule, I’ll work late into the night. In preparation for my solo exhibition ‘All My Beautiful Boys’ at Northcote Gallery (opening on 12 March), I’ve been drawing every day for the past three months.

Single . Fire Tailed Myzornis

What do you feel when you stare at a blank page, before your illustrations take shape on the whiteness of the sheet?
I always feel nervous when I first start a new drawing. As Moleskine diary paper is so thin, it is essential to get the initial sketch right first time, as any erasing will show.

If someone issues a search warrant through your sketchbooks, what are they likely to stumble upon?
Many people comment on the amount of recipes contained within my diary drawings. I love cooking and am usually jotting down entire recipes, or ingredient shopping lists. You’re also likely to find plans with my friends, hand-drawn maps, colour swatches, and to-do lists.
A Joy framed
Which journal are you using currently?
I am currently using a daily Moleskine diary. I also have a weekly planner too.
Single . Blackbird

What are your can’t-live-without stationery essentials?
That’s easy: an excellent sharpener!

A Ponder

Fall in love with here sketches here

Single. Cedar Waxwing

A Paddling framed



On creative side projects

Side projects are important. Some are born out of the natural urge to create. Some are born out of the relentless  pursuit to obtain that state of self-awareness where creation becomes a dialect to communicate with the world. Either way, it helps us remain relevant to who we were are, as artists, writers or creators.
Recently, I am across Elias Poland’s Journal Pages. These pages document his daily consumptions, from carrot juice to coffee to scabies medication – and everything in between. 
“I suppose the nature of a time capsule is not so much to look at the past, but to throw the present into relief by comparison.” – Elias Poland  Elias-Poland-drawing-purchases-3
Creative process should somehow bring together every element of our lives and no part of it should be betrayed as a mere clinical process. Elias-Poland-drawing-purchases-4
Often our minds are like islands of inspired creativity surrounded by clueless, bastards of disassociated thoughts. But by achieving that integrity with every aspect of daily lives, we become grateful, more centered and more connected.  Elias-Poland-drawing-purchases-5
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These side projects serve to document our journey, our perspectives and our mundane activities. Instead of discarding them completely, these routines like groceries store visits can help us towards a mindful living and even become a part of our creative process. 
You can see some more of Elias Poland’s work at .

Interview with Parisian Illustrator Marie Bretin

I love how a good illustration has the power to capture the predictability of the daily routine and create a visual record of it. While listening to Jenny Owen Youngs F Was I on loop I stumbled upon a design website that brought me to the edge of my seat. The playful compositions were so heart-warming! Since then I have been drooling over the sketches, admiring the illustrations and wishing I could create such bittersweet stories too.

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Marie Bretin is a Parisian illustrator who turns small anecdotes from life into beautiful sketches. “The ‘absurd is a recurring theme in my work” she says.  Marie’s illustrations not only show us with open-heartedness the vulnerable side of our existence , but also indulges our need to record every aspect of our shared human experience.


And while we were busy curating, documenting, reflecting and dumping the various experiences of the year gone by, it felt great to be a part of this creative community who fight the monsters of unpredictability and self-doubt and turn it into beautiful pieces of art. To celebrate this out-with-the-old-year, in-with-the-new one yay existence, also known as the New Year’s Eve, I had Marie to join us for an interview.

Tell us what inspired you to start Marie Bretin design and illustration site?

At first, I started my website to present my work to the world. This is why I created a Tumblr page that I feed every day. I also have Instagram where I post one illustration each day.  I still have to add a lot of categories and illustrations.

Your illustrations are quirky, minimalist and a witty visual meditation on the various aspects of human life. How would you describe your style? 

I like to draw ironic and dreamlike illustrations. I love duality in our surroundings – when it’s spicy and sweet at the same time. That is why my illustrations portray difficult situations of life, express strong ideas, without taboos or complex.
By drawing I like to take the drama out of the situations. It’s my way to externalize my fears and my anxieties.

Are there any designers that you particularly look up to?

I am very curious and always attentive to the world around me, I love to spend hours in the Parisian art bookshops, especially in the children’s books sections . Each time I discover wonderful designer like Laurent Moreau, Vincent Godeau, Amelie Fontaine and lots more!

What do you feel when you stare at a blank page, before your designs and illustrations take shape?

If I have a very clear idea of ​​what I want to draw, the blank page does not scare me. I can even say that I get very excited and impatient to start drawing. But if I have no idea, the blank page is like a monster. In this case, it is my enemy. That’s why I never put myself in front of a blank page without having an idea in my head.


Which magazines are you reading currently?

Currently, I am subscribed to the CLES magazine. It is a French magazine that talks about philosophy, psychology and wisdom. It helps me to find those moments of absurd life. Another one of my favourites is the Wrap magazine that features current illustrations, designs and creative culture! It’s a little jewel!

What are your can’t-live-without craft-room essentials?

Black pen is my most faithful ally, but I love just as much to work with watercolours and acrylic paint.
I cannot live without my kit pens, my scanner, my computer and my tablet (also my caramel, my boyfriend, my coffee and my cat). But when I have to move, I wonder how I will fit all these essentials in my suitcase. So I have to make a very difficult choice….


Blank Paper Project Reviews: Daler Rowney Fine Grain HeavyWeight

As I go scouting for another cooler notebook to add to my  stationery box, I am not bound by the location where it is stored. I have hunted for good notebooks at the gas stations, malls, book stores, online shops and even at the garage displays. But often I rely on a good friend to recommend me some notebooks.

Recently during my weeklong break, I was delighted to discover the Daler Rowney Fine Grain HeavyWeight notepad. So much so that, as soon I reached home I scribbled a line or two and made a list of movies to catch up on. The series is made by Daler Rowney in England and features some lovely icons on the cover page.

The blank pages are a perfect A5 acid free and nudge you to sketch and illustrate or explore creative ideas in full throttle.

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I have been shying away from blank paper recently. The blankness has been challenging me – fist bumping my lazy mind and arresting my inertia.

I may have to dehusk layers and layers of inertia before I begin to write something meaningful and deep once again. And I have to do it now. Before another distraction hits me, before another cat video goes viral, before I get a ping on my Whatsapp, before the cute little purse featured on Facebook stamp advts calls out to me.


Before I leave, I would like to share a little write-up I found on Daler Rowney website:

“Consumers and businesses around the world today are more conscious than ever about green issues and looking to take an environmentally responsible attitude. And it’s no different in the world of art.

Normally consumers have to pay a premium to follow their conscience, but the new Daler-Rowney ecologically friendly drawing papers are offered for exactly the same price as their traditionally manufactured counterparts.

This new range of pads is an extension of the popular Fine-Grain range, but the paper is 100% recycled and manufactured with renewable energy. Every sheet is FSC-certified recycled and the pads are available in A4 & A3 sizes with weights of 200gsm Heavyweight paper and 120gsm Drawing paper.

Each Eco paper pad has 30 sheets, the same as the current Fine-Grain pads and is priced the same as the equivalent existing Fine-Grain pad.”

Green stationery is my ticket to guiltless shopping.

Ship of Theseus: The In-Between Notes

If the typewriter was entirely replaced, piece by piece and if the original parts were gathered up after they were replaced and used to build the second typewriter.

Which typewriter is the original vintage typewriter?

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The movie Ship of Theseus came at a time when I was philosophically parched!  It has the quality of a beacon. A cinematic proof that there are paradoxes of life and universe  left to express so artistically without falling into the murk of sounding too important or self-glorious!

I loved the dialogues between the Jain monk and the comedian. Lighter moments like  “The male silkworm can smell a single molecule of pheromone. If I had an olfaction as developed, I wouldn’t be able to stand your smell…” are intercepted with striking truth like:


This Doodle pad from LetterNote features the loveliest quote from the movie. In the background is my advance birthday gift, a Mi Pac bag. Check more here:


Here are some of my favourite quotes from the movie:

“It’s so oppressive, this obsession with final answers.”

“Every atom of my body will be recycled by the universe. You think you are a person but you are a colony.”

“U for Unilateralis Cordyceps. The fungus enters an ant’s body through its respiration. It invades it’s brain and changes how it perceives smell, because ants do everything they do from their smell of pheromones, right? So this microscopic little fungal spore, then makes the ant climb up the stem of a plant and bite hard on a leaf, with an abnormal force. The fungus then kills the ant, and continues to grow, leaving the ant’s exoskeleton intact. So, a small fungus drives an ant around as a vehicle, uses it as food and shelter and then as the ultimate monument to itself. And when the fungus is ready to reproduce, its fruiting bodies grow from the ant’s head and rupture releasing the spores, letting the wind carry them to more unsuspecting food. There, our entire idea of free will down the bin.”

Diary Chooses The Owner: Blocks Notebook

My sketch books are my totems— a place where I can stain my feelings, thoughts and ideas. I love carrying and buying notebooks that are light, and do not add to the luggage.
I mostly sketch with a simple Cello MY Gel pens. I love the Faber Castell Multimark too, but the quality of the notebook pages need to be good to avoid blots and spreads.

I got this Lego Sketchbooks during one of the promotional events in my office. It was a love at first sight. This compact notebook is perfect for small purses or sling bags. Perfect for downloading all that creative fodder at any given point.



Here are the few product details from the official website:

Brilliantly original new notebooks from Mark’s Tokyo Edge inspired by a certain building block. These A6 journals have 200 plain pages inside a soft, tactile brightly coloured cover. The contrasting colour parts are detachable, allowing you to customize your book but please note that we are having difficulty obtaining refills at present.

  • Size: 150 x 113mm
  • 200 page plain notebook insert
  • Detachable parts
  • Refillable though we are out of stock of refills for the time being


Sail into the vastness of a blank paper


I might be late to the party, but reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea has really opened my mind to the new sights and sounds of a nautical prose. After reading few wayfaring short stories by other notable writers, I prefer Hemingway’s timeless and deceptively simple narrative art.

Hemingway was passionately involved in deep sea fishing and the fable crafts a story set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana.

While reading the book, I wondered…is blank paper to me, what sea is to the old man? It challenges him and tests his resolution, time after time. “The old man knew he was far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out into the clean early morning smell of the ocean.”

To buy the copy of this book click here: