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….


Stalking creativity


Having an archivist’s mind and curator’s soul are important to any creative process.

A month back, I got my hands on the year’s calendar by The Doodlers. What fascinated me, about their art was a light-hearted wickedness they brought to their sketches. Furthermore, there was an unprecedented level of chaos and an undifferentiated interception of  shapes and stories.

Such a beautiful art announced itself to distracting levels. So I listened to my hunch and decided to let our readers in on the creative minds behind these beautiful illustrations.

Neha and her creative partners Sameer Kulkarni and Abhijit Kalan, give us a sneak peek into the idea incubation and a drooling list of their tools of mass creation.

What do you feel when you stare at a blank page, before your illustrations take shape on the whiteness of the sheet?

The feeling is a combination of excitement, nervousness, sudden enthusiasm for exploration, inquisitive thoughts around discovery of something unexpected and many a times just plain challenging.

The mind is not always clear about what has to be done. Sometimes, there’s just an idea. Sometimes, there’s just a style or technique of illustrations in thoughts. Most of the times, there’s just a subject in mind. And of course, a lot of times there’s absolutely nothing in mind.


If someone issues a search warrant through your tools and sketchbooks, what are they likely to stumble into?

Like many art-loving people, we are suckers for stationery. Given a chance to spend a fortune in one night, it would be either for stationery, books or toys. While sketching, we are peculiar about our tools. Depending on the kind of illustration needed, the tools change. Some of the brands/products we LOVE are:

  • Rotring Pens  (Much love to those.)
    Black markers – Camlin/Reynolds
    Permanent Metal markers from Uniball
  • Apsara Eraser & Natraj Sharpener (Let’s not forget these two humble darlings)
  • Staedtler fineliner pens,
    Balls pens – Reynolds, any
    Staedtler pencils ranging from HB-8B
    Staedtler water colour pencils
  • Camlin artists water colours and photo inks
  • Brush pens
  • Water-based and oil-based Acrylics

And the reason we use a sketchbook is because it helps us define our sketches. Umm, not like we don’t sketch on separate sheets, but using a sketchbook just makes it more accessible and it keeps giving us a gentle reminder that we need to fill it up even more.

There isn’t any particular sketchbook brand that we use. What matters is the quality of paper should be great (especially if using Rotring pen on it), the grip should be good enough and size should be decently portable.
We have been buying sheets from paper marts and binding them as sketch books for the longest time. Now, we are experimenting with brands like Moleskin; but honestly, we find it expensive.

One local Indian brand of sketchbook that we recently discovered while making The Doodlers calendar was: Matrix Artist Pad. Typical art paper which has great GSM and quality.


What do you love sketching, just for fun?

We have more sketches that are personal/unreleased than ones done for larger projects. Basically sketching has been an inevitable part of our lives, unknowingly; until one day we realised that we should actually start publishing it.
Abhijit is extremely fond of sketching crows. In fact, he discovered his love for illustrations through his signature crows. He has created over 150 unique crows until now and I think the number will be never-ending. Apart from that, he has also sketched a series of elephants and other many random illustrations.

Sameer is brilliant with caricatures, sketches that involve perspective, animated character illustrations and doodles. He is very fluent at doodling on walls with his marker. He also likes to experiment with different stationery and tools while sketching through which unique styles come out.

And me (Neha), well I am obsessed with drawing lady-figures. My mom said that I was 3 or 4 years old when I started drawing them. It has become a habit that sketching eyes, hair and eventually a face of a woman is the first thing that will come out if I am given a pencil in my hand. There’s something about woman’s anatomy that fascinates me.

Stray their work here:

The Doodlers:




A visual leap into Janine’s illustrations.

01-memory-is-a-tricky-thing1The hallmark of a great creative artist is her strength to depict her thoughts through her art, while retaining the dark and twisted elements that often form the pattern of such thoughts. Art is not only a diorama of beauty, but it is often a subtle retaliation, an aggravated emotion, and often reconciliation with the world around, and with oneself.

So it never fails to amaze me how some artists are able to create beautiful versions of their thoughts on a blank page. London-based artist Janine takes her art to a new level of visual eloquence. Janine’s doodles are as diverse as her family of illustrated characters and intimate narrative—gritty minds, pillow-talk philosophers, bittersweet love affairs. “My ‘go to’ sketches are usually faces. I don’t know why but I’m constantly drawing faces, not necessarily realistic ones.”

Check out all of Janine’s beautiful illustrations below and her thoughts on blank paper and sketching.


Moments before my illustrations take shape on the whiteness of the sheet – I feel a bit of stage fright – Where to start? How will it end? So much white space.

On Sketchbooks

“I didn’t really like sketch books for many years, mostly because they felt untidy and messy, or so big that they became time consuming to work on and I’d end up using them for scrap paper.

But a couple of years ago I bought an A6 sized landscape watercolour Moleskin and it looked so neat, compact and professional that I wanted to sketch after a long time.

I rules for myself like: No tearing pages, No leaving pages blank, No scribbling, also an ongoing sketch must be finished before moving on to a new sketch book.

Other things I use the sketchbook for is to experiment with different styles and mediums. It’s also for when I don’t have time or space to do larger drawings. e.g. while travelling or during my lunch break at work.”

Here is a sneak peek of her doodle.


She prefers illustrating on A6 watercolour landscape Moleskins with any cheap felt-pens, black ball pens, Caran D’ache watercolour pencils, or Steadler Fine liner pen.

You can browse through her work here. iusb_760x100.9400452sketch-book-6-full-page


Immersive examination on blank pages

Blank pages nudge you to create visual chronicles of your mind.   

Letternote_IndianWomen.jpgWe meet  so many people every day. But we just float past each other without really trying to know that other person – what they love, what they aspire for, what makes them the person they become.

I am blessed with friends who understand my insatiable appetite for notebooks and sketchbooks and know that there is no better gift you can give a writer than the gift of blank pages.

This notebook is a gift from flirtingkaapi . It is a soft covered, shrink-wrapped notebook with 144 plain pages and measures 5 in x 8 in. You can document your creative chronicles, thoughts, feelings, hesitations, doodles and brain droppings on its plain white blanks.

This festival season, if you are at loss on the right gift to give your friends get them a fancy/minimalist notebook, diary or sketch book or make one yourself (nothing like going a little DIY instead of heading to a mall). You can buy the Letternote notebook here:


The Creative Life


I really consider myself lucky to have friends who know me well. Well enough to skip all the options and go in for a kill by gifting minimalistic designed journals and sketchbooks with blank pages to illustrate and sketch my thoughts.

Writing is intimate and comes from a place where you are honest, alone and incognito. It requires some kind of sealing yourself from the drone of this world.

I am closer to melding my passions together and bridging the gap between the art and relationships. Infusing creativity with people and their eccentricity often leads you on a journey that helps you explore new dimensions to your own abilities.

While we do that we enclose the varieties that act as a vindication against man’s nature to decompose day by day by choosing the familiar and the known.




Now coming over to this lovely sketchbook – when I held this diary for the first time I was floored by its modest, light-hearted artwork. It looked ancient yet modern. The meditative inked picture on the cover looked like an illustrated quirky dream – notice the heart motifs on the smoking man’s shorts.

Bechain Nagri the creators behind this sketchbook. They can be found here: