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What makes a sketchnote beautiful?

If you create sketchnotes and have a pulse, at one point or another you’ve probably wanted what you draw up to be beautiful. (I know I have. It’s okay to admit it. ;^)
When I say this, I don’t necessarily mean that I want my sketchnotes to be pretty. There are lots of “pretty” sketch notes out there. Heck, do a Google search for “Sketchnote” and see what’s out there. Even better, go to and experience the wealth of diversity in sketchnotes being created every day.
As you take a look at what people create, you may note that there are lots of pretty drawings, pleasing to the eye in style and fun to look at. There may be some techniques you see people use and think “dang, I need to learn how to do THAT for my own sketchnotes!”
And then there will be the sketchnotes that stop you in your tracks and truly speak to you. There will be the sketchnotes that you find truly beautiful.

“Pretty” and “beautiful” are not the same thing.

What’s the difference?
Years ago, my boyfriend and I went to a symphony performance where a child-prodigy soloist performed the Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25, by Sarasate.
(I know, stay with me here for a minute.)
I came from a musical family, and grew up playing the violin. The Carmen Fantasy is the “So You Think You Can Dance” for virtuoso violin compositions. It’s a performer’s opportunity to open their playing up and show folks what they’ve got! Naturally, I was excited to hear our young soloist’s take on this challenging, complex, and vibrant piece of music.
Technically, her performance was impressive. She played with amazing precision, hitting every note and phrase exactly right. She didn’t make a single mistake.
Listening to it was. . . nice. No, that’s me being polite and I have to be honest with you: it was the most boring violin performance I had ever heard!
Sure, this little girl could technically play the Carmen Fantasy very well. But SHE was nowhere in the performance. She played without feeling, soul, or connection of any kind to her music. What we listened to might as well have been played by a machine. (It would have been more interesting played by a machine!)
What she played was pretty. . . and that was all. SHE needed to show up in her music for it to become beautiful.
And this brings be back to sketchnotes.

What makes a sketchnote beautiful?

You do.
It’s your creativity and your expression. It’s your view of the world and what you see in it. It’s your own playfulness and colors…or discipline and use of ink. It’s your choice.
It’s the way you choose to use the space on your page and the way you select and emphasize what’s important. It’s your interpretation of what’s most important – what’s most worth remembering – for you. It’s what you capture and how you choose to represent it in your own unique way.
It’s your soul, your spirit, the essence of you that infuses and imbibes what you do. That’s what makes a thing beautiful and brings it to life.
In other words, beauty begins the moment we decide to be ourselves. (Thank you, Coco Chanel!)

It comes from us in our gloriously imperfect being. . . and doing.

Beauty is in our experience and connection with something or someone.
The unique imperfections and interpretations are where there’s room to see ourselves in the work. To connect and relate to it. . . and the one who created it. Because this is possible, all those imperfections become perfect just as they are. Just as we are. Just as you are.
So be gloriously imperfect in your sketchnotes. Or be technically precise in your sketchnotes, if that’s really your thing. But whichever way you go, be sure to BE THERE in your sketchnotes. Don’t try to look like someone else’s style so much that you lose or forget who you are. Don’t be so technically precise in your drawing or lettering that there’s no space for YOU to come through. Share of yourself and imbue what you create with who you are. . . however you draw, and whatever you feel.
Because it’s what we get to experience about you that makes your sketchnote beautiful to me.
I cannot wait to see what you draw forth,

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  • Posted by Jeannel
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Totally loved your post! #ScrewPerfect #BeAwesome Thanks for sharing your insights. This was super encouraging to me. I shared it with the Doodle Girl & Friends Facebook group that was created by Diane Bleck of the Doodle Institute. Lots of fellow awesome people who are unlocking creativity through doodling. Many for the first time in forever. I think your message will inspire and resonate with others there. Thanks for sharing! #YouRock! Cheers, Muddy @unlockawesome
    Aw, thanks, Muddy! Your comment made my day! (And I LOVE the hashtags! :^) Please say 'hi' to Diane and everyone at the DG&F group, and keep unlocking the awesome! ;^D J

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