Sketchbook Magazine: Interviews with the Editor, Susie Bubble, Mademoiselle Robot and more...

I fell in love with Sketchbook Magazine as soon as I saw the first issue with a beautifully drawn Susie Bubble splashed across the front cover and the inside packed full of illustrations. At the time I was not taking my blog seriously, instead just posting an odd cartoon of Fred Dibnah or doodle of my hair I'd drawn earlier that day. But, after reading The Bloggers Issue late last year I decided to step up my game, so really, it's thanks to Sketchbook that you're even reading this...

Anyway, after a slight misunderstanding on twitter, Sketchbook realised I was not Santa (who bizarrely I also know, small World!) and we got chatting. Wafa offered me the chance to do a feature on Sketchbook and an interview with her so I gladly accepted. Unfortunately I haven't been able to make it to their Pop Up Shop as of yet so I also thought it would be nice to interview some of the key speakers to live my Sketchbook dreams vicariously through them. This, rather long, post is the result, enjoy!

Wafa Alobaidat
Wafa is the founder and editor of Sketchbook Magazine.  

What was your inspiration for starting Sketchbook?
Being a magazine-holic I became frustrated when I was not able to find what I was looking for. I wanted a publication that obsessed about bloggers, sketchbooks, and editors the way I was. I wanted to talk about current trends in blogging and twitter and the internet fashion boom and I just couldn’t find ‘that’ special publication anywhere. I was getting tired of seeing celebrities on magazine covers when I ideally wanted to see people who inspired me. So that’s what I did, I set about creating my own publication which was rich in illustrations, where every issue is different, where you wouldn’t be too precious about the pages and you could scribble your notes, ideas, rip and tear out of it. I just went about creating something I would want to buy.

What would be your top tip for anyone wanting to start their own magazine?

Get used to being in front of the laptop screen for at least 12 hours a day. I run a fashion illustration magazine so my priority is not to produce fashion shoots and I don’t have the burden of doing castings and commissioning fashion photographers and stylists to create shoots for Sketchbook. But you have to be willing to sell the concept to designers, contributors, and writers if you don’t have deep pockets. The publishing industry is a tough one, like every other industry, but printing costs are horrifying so you have to be able to negotiate your way around scoring one that works for you.

What would you never leave the house without?
My blackberry and charger, Ipod, wallet, notebook and a pen, and a good book, I’m currently reading “A diamond in the desert” by Jo Tatchell.

What would an average day at Sketchbook consist of for you?
Depends on where I am, right now I am based in Carnaby so waking up at 9 am. Usually my project manager Rachel Menashy, has to call to wake me up because I have been working for the past month and a half, 7 days a week and find it so hard to get up in the morning, coffee from le pain (served by a waiter called Mr.Spain) who makes my latte just the way I like it. I open the shop around 10 am, my crew arrives around the same time, we set up and sort out the workshop, lecture space, gallery, and screening rooms for visitors and upcoming events of the day. Then it’s returning emails, writing up proposals, I go through all our social networking sites and the blog to make sure everything is running smoothly, till about lunch time where I pop to a nearby Pret for a soup or sandwich. I have interns varying from designers, illustrators and writers popping in throughout the day for interviews. I usually spend about 15 minutes with each person looking through portfolios and commissioning art work for upcoming issues. We run one lecture, one event, and one networking session everyday so I try to ensure the gallery is spotless and everyone is sorted. I work till about 8 pm and then try to meet a few friends after work for dinner. I end up crawling into bed at around 1 am, exhausted.

If you could be sketched by anyone in the World (dead or alive) who would it be?
Hands down JOHN PAUL THURLOW. I love this guy so much. Not just for the fact that he is incredibly talented and successful but also for the fact that he is sincere and humble and a good friend. John Paul invested in Sketchbook by doing the Susie Bubble cover which shot the magazine to fame and for that I owe him so much. We are holding his first solo exhibition of all his illustrated magazine covers at the Pop Up shop and will hold the private viewing this Sunday. It’s a real pleasure to give something back to the designer who took a chance with my brand.

Do you think more magazines will follow suit with Sketchbook and create a platform to bring their readers information on how to further their career?
I hope so. I know that I need constant guide and direction from these editors, designers, bloggers and I’m sure others need it too. I just want to be able to tell their story and pass on their information in a personal, fun, creative way. My publication aims to try to add value if it’s possible and it works at doing so creatively.

How do you choose what is featured in Sketchbook?
I usually start with a theme (how original, right?) and then expand on it with developing feature ideas, commissioning art work and illustration spreads that would work with the features. I know it’s a tad selfish but I choose themes based on what I am excited about at the time and what I can’t seem to find enough material on. Our first issue was fashion bloggers, second was London Fashion Designers. I am now putting together Issue 3, The Editors Issue, and then we have the Pop Up Issue which will be out at the end of the year.

How did you come up with the idea for the Pop Up Shop?
I have been meeting 5 people a day for the past 6 months. They could be designers, photographers, people in PR, illustrators etc, and one of the people I met back in November was Rachel Menashy who proposed to me that she wanted to put together the Pop Up Shop for her final year project and I just told her that I would support her in every way that I could to make it happen. So she was there all day every day for a few months at the studio, booking meetings, writing up proposals, and visiting spaces in London to get this to happen. And it was due to her dedication and hard work.

Did you ever expect for Sketchbook to be such a success?
I believe in every project that I launch. I have too. There was never any doubt in my mind that it wouldn’t make it. But my definition of success for Sketchbook is to produce great art work, to consistently offer something fresh with each issue, to create an electric atmosphere with my staff (I need people to be positive and happy at all times to create a nice working environment), to gain a niche following and to have Sketchbook stocked in stores. So far everything seems to be going with plan! The Pop Shop has allowed me to meet fans of the publications which is a great boost. There is no better feeling than having people dote and gush over a product that I have created. I am so grateful for those who go out of their way to order the magazine.

How can people get their hands on Sketchbook?
You can buy a PDF of The Fashion Blogger Issue or order it online here. Our second issue will be out any second !

Click here to view Sketchbook's website and blog.

Susanna Lau also known as Style Bubble
Susie was on the panel for the Print VS Online Q&A at Sketchbook's Pop Up Shop and appeared on the front cover of their first issue drawn by John Paul Thurlow. Susie's stuck in New York at the moment so everyone send her 'get home soon' wishes.

What was your inspiration to start your blog? 
I was bored?  No really...that was it.  I was doing a very dull job and I just wanted a hobby to preoccupy my spare time.

What would be your top tip for any budding bloggers? 
Try to think about whether the content you're putting out there is really adding something new to what's already out there!  Complicated Google searches help quite a bit!

What would you never leave the house without?  
A bottle of water.  I'm obsessed with drinking lots of water.

What would an average day consist of for you?  

Staring at an iMac screen most of the time to be honest.  That said, it's never predictable.  As it stands, there is no 'average' day now because of the number of projects I get involved in. 

If you could be sketched by anyone in the World (dead or alive) who would it be?  

Modigliani - would be a change from the 'manga-style' illustrations of me that are about.

Do you think more magazines will follow suit with Sketchbook and create a platform to bring their readers information on how to further their career?  
Hmm... I don't think it's the sort of direction of where magazines are going to be honest.  It's a wonderful niche that works well for Sketchbook but it's not really a primary concern for publications that are singuarly wanting to create a readworthy and well-executed magazine.
That said, Anna Wintour is doing a talk at Pratt Institute tomorrow and Elle US have also done discussions at FIT so I think existing magazines are more willing to speak about their work for people to learn from.   

What's your favourite thing about Sketchbook Magazine?
The format.  I love that illustrations dominate the magazine and also the subjects they choose to focus on... not including myself of course... that would be err...a bit weird...

Are you enjoying being able to spend more time focusing on Style Bubble?  
Definitely and like I said, days are becoming unpredictable and though I may not be rolling in stable wealth, I am at the very least a whole lot happier choosing to do things I want to do. 

Any exciting endeavors coming up for Style Bubble in the future you can let us in on?
Nope nope nope!  Alas... I hate these non-disclosure blah blah blah things...
Ah... I guess most people already know I'm going to Sydney for Rosemount Australian Fashion Week... that's if I manage to make it back to London in time!

Do you enjoy passing on your blogging knowledge at events like Sketchbook and The IFB Conference?
It's not really about passing knowledge but about discussing issues that are always changing and the fact is, there are no finite answers or concrete solutions in blogging... I think it's definitely interesting from my perspective because I've been doing it for such a long time now (4 years...) and yes, I'm very opinionated on certain things!

Click here to go to Susie's blog; Style Bubble.

Laëtitia Wajnapel also known as Mademoiselle Robot 
Laëtitia gave a 'Getting Started' lecture at Sketchbook's Pop Up Shop and appeared in the panel of a Q&A session. 

What inspired you to start your blog?
I just wanted to get back to writing since I had been neglecting my journalism career after moving to London. It was a good way for me to write regularly with no pressure and no expectations.

What would be your top tip for any budding bloggers?
The main advice I gave during my lecture at the Sketchbook pop up shop is to NOT have an agenda, and to do things because you are passionate about them. The idea is to start blogging for the right reasons, and not because you want to be famous, go to parties, go to fashion week etc.

What would you never leave the house without?
My phone! I have been using a G1 for a couple of years now and I am completely addicted to it. It does everything for me, I think someone could remove my brain, as long as I still have my phone, I am ok.

What would an average day consist of for you?
A whole load of work (on the blog or for my clients), catching up with my favourite TV shows online in bed, crashing at 11pm. Not the most glamourous life, but I love having a lot of work, it means things are going well.

If you could be sketched by anyone in the World (dead or alive) who would it be?
Good question... Edward Gorey would be up there and Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer... Erm I realise I am only giving you children's books illustrators, but I have a passion for kids books that started many many moons ago!

Do you think more magazines will follow suit with Sketchbook and create a platform to bring their readers information on how to further their career?
I hope so! Even if it isn't necessarily for their readers to further their career, but I think it is nice to see who is behind a magazine.

How do you find working from home with your family around?
They are not with me during the day so fairly easy. Although it was fairly easy even when my daughter was still at home. I suppose she grew up at the same time as my blog, which means that by the time the blog became very big and very time consuming, she was old enough to go to nursery!

Click here to go to Laetitia's blog; Mademoiselle Robot.

John Paul Thurlow
John creates the orginal cover art for Sketchbook magazine and hosted his first solo exhibition in the Sketchbook Pop Up Shop.  

What was your inspiration to become a illustrator?
I was drawing the contents of my room whilst staying in Japan. I was drawing everything. I came to the copy of Elle on the table... I kept drawing the magazine again and again... that was it

What would be your top tip for any budding illustrators?
Technique, ideas, blog, folio

What is your drawing tool of choice?
A 0.7 HB propelling pencil and a propelling eraser. I draw with the eraser as much as the pencil.

What would an average day consist of for you?
Go to work be creative. Come home eat, drink, draw.

If you could be sketched by anyone in the World (dead or alive) who would it be?
Giovanni Battista Piazzetta Venice 1730 something

Do you think more magazines will follow suit with Sketchbook and create a platform to bring their readers information on how to further their career?
It wouldn't fit every publication. What Sketchbook does is great... special even.... but most good ideas get ripped off sooner or later

What's your favourite thing about Sketchbook Magazine?
Honestly the people behind the magazine are brilliant... beyond this I like very much the way the written content works with the different drawing styles. Art and copy working together that well isn't easy and is the mark of great editorial.

Click here to see more of John Paul Thurlow's work on his website.

Images courtesy of Sketchbook.

Rebekah Roy
Rebekah gave a 'Getting Started' lecture using he experience as a freelance fashion Stylist.

What was your inspiration to become a stylist?
Although I was always interested in fashion and costume history I never set out to be a stylist. After working in different areas of the fashion industry everything seemed  to come together and like many stylists I really fell into what I was doing.
What would be your top tip for any budding stylists?
I think it’s important to take work experience seriously, you have to treat it like paid work, once people see that you can do the job you have a chance of getting hired for the job!

What would you never leave the house without on the day of a shoot?
 My luggage and mobile phone.

What would an average day consist of for you? 
As a freelance fashion stylist my work changes everyday. I’m rarely at my desk as I’m either in meeting with designers and clients, visiting PRs or styling shoots. Everyday is different and you have to be able to adapt to never knowing what you’re doing next. You could be prepping one week for a fashion show or going abroad to style a campaign.

If you could be sketched by anyone in the World (dead or alive) who would it be?
This past season Vauxhall Fashion Scout had student illustrators sketch the catwalk collections. I quite liked Kelly Anna Sheppard's and Maryanne Oliver's work and I’m a huge fan of Daisy De Villeneuve. 
(I sneakily asked Kelly Anna to do a quick sketch of Rebekah once I'd found out she'd rather liked to be drawn by hair, Kelly Anna, being the lovely lady she is agreed and the image above is the result, check out Kelly Anna's work here)

Do you think more magazines will follow suit with Sketchbook and create a platform to bring their readers information on how to further their career?
Every magazine has its own identity and should feature more articles on getting started. Sketchbook has found a unique niche and the idea of using the pop up shop to offer free workshops and fashion talks is invaluable to students and those who just want to know more.  I think fashion illustration is becoming more relevant than ever and I’d love to incorporate some into my editorial work.

Click here to go to Rebekah's website. 

Visit Sketchbook Magazine's website for more details and to get your copy!

Don't forget, my competition to win Laura Mackness and Benefit goodies is still open for a couple more days, click here to enter!


  1. I love the illustrated Sketchbook magazine covers, so fun to switch it up from the normal digital shots. Agyness Deyn looks so adorable in the first shot, and of course Sussie Bubble. Great post :)


  2. Such an inspiring set of interviews. Everyone seems so completely focused and passionate about what they do.
    I've seen sketchbook online, but I would love to have a proper copy of it. It looks like a wonderful magazine.
    Clare x

  3. you've done a great job here. a tweet salute!

  4. amazing post...lovely the cover illustrations

  5. Wow, i have now read your hole post. Truly inspiring and instructive, i`m reading all of the blogs now to, and i check out Sketchbook Magazine, i love it:)

  6. by the way, forgot to say when i commented earlier, my blog is having it's first every giveaway! topshop and dvd prizes! thought i should tip you off since i entered yours hehe.

  7. wow who doesn't know Susanna shes huge in the blog world. awesome sketches love hers in-particular

  8. OMG OMG OMG :( i posted a comment and blogger told me ERROR!! It was a long long long comment. meeh no worries will post again, here goes, hope u don't mind XD

    Very gorgeous illustrations and i love the cover! Danielle Scutt fashion tips's pic is cute but kinda freaky especially when the cartoon puts it's feet into another's mouth =_=. The interview was very awesome, they sound so friendly and the best thing was/is they're all personally so passionate about this!!! <3 Very awesome people they are :D!
    I love this post! xxx

    SORRRY for the long comment :$ x

  9. hey blogger girl!!!!!!

    amazing post!!!!!!!

    ur blog is so cool and interesting!!!!!!

    thanks so much for comm:))


  10. WONDERFUL sketches. What an inpsiration source!

  11. What a *$&^"^& (tweeting-ly) good post! This is exactly what I want to read! All that research must have taken you so long - but it is very much appreciated so it was defo worth it!


    Ps) The first Yan To image you put in your last post was part of the inspiration for a customisation piece I've recently finished - going to post about it asap (tomorrow probably) so eyes PEELED!

    The Style Rail

  12. Amazing post! Definitely following you ;)



  13. Wow.. that was a fabulous post!!! I 'll have to check out sketchbook mag now!!!

    Enter to win a vintage button-down shirt!
    clothed much, a modest fashion blog

  14. I find your blog really, really interesting! And Susanna Lau looks amazing :D Love her style!!

  15. Thank you for the nice comment!
    Your blog is incredible...I love the emphasis on the arts as well as fashion.

    We would love to trade links with you!

    Following :)


  16. It looks like so much fun, very jealous! AND HMY MAN HENRY HOLLAND LOVE HIM! x

  17. Linked!!!


  18. Clare, this is an amazing and really inspiring post. Thank you. Just what I needed at the moment.

    Sketchbook looks like a truly great magazine!

  19. Wow, great opportunity! never read it before but from the images you included in your post looks very interesting! Great interview! :)

  20. Awesome post! The illustrations here are absolutely amazing and I love the interviews.

  21. Oh you have peaked my curiosity and i love the sketches. So incredibly sad the pop up store was inaccessable to me

  22. Ok fine I'll let you indulge in occasional champaigne revelry, as long as it's either from france, or a beautiful high quality Australian sparkling wine :) You deserve it lady. Great posts going on

  23. This is such a fabulous post, It took me 15 minutes to grasp the entire thing.


  24. loooved this, esp. the interview with rebekha roy, so fantastic.

  25. great post. great magazine. thanks for introducing me to it. anyway, you have an amazing blog; just followed you! :)

  26. Sketches are good, For Freelance Jobs visit,

  27. I don't think it's possible to verbalize my love for this post. First of all I'd like to thank you for introducing me to Sketchbook magazine - I'm definitely on the hunt for a copy now!
    The interviews are amazing as well, they're all such interesting people and I loved reading their answers to what artist they'd like to be sketched by! I'm a rather recent follower of your blog, but I enjoy every new article you post. I'm often unfamiliar with the subjects you choose to write about (whether it's a designer, or a collection, or a magazine) but they always make me curious to read more on them. On top of that, your eloquence is astounding which makes every article a pleasure to read.

  28. WOW! This is one colossal interview post (both in size and in subjects). thanks for putting it together I miss being able to go to stuff like this in London.

  29. I loved that this post included interviews with many subjects, it was so interesting and informative! & I didn't know about Sketchbook before but I'm definitely going to check it out :)

  30. Remarkable phrase

  31. I’ve bookmarked youi blog and I’ll be back to read more in the future my friend! Also nice colors on the layout, it’s really easy on the eyes

  32. Hi , i got this Article , i was searching some thing relevant to this, And i am feeling lucky, as its the perfect one for what i am looking for. I will share this link on face book.

  33. Hello really such a great post admin keep posting such a interesting posts thanks for sharing this blog.

  34. This is such fantastic and useful blog.Sketch book is very nice.


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