If you're anything like me, you might have been eyeing the Moleskines for sale in several bookstores for a while now. Who wouldn't? So many creative artists have sworn by this brand, and it's been touted around as THE kind of sketchbook, that it's only natural to wonder if it might just be the notebook of your dreams, too.
If you've been a little apprehensive due to its hefty price tag, I can tell you that it's definitely high quality. However, if you're just starting out with illustration, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have lots of extra cash to spare, or are one hundred percent serious about pursuing a career in the arts. With that out of the way, let's talk about what Moleskine has to offer.
For those who prefer heavy-duty sketchbooks, Moleskines have thick cardboard covers to ensure that the edges of your pages don’t get nicked. It definitely helps make the sketchbook feel good and sturdy in the hands. Once you flip open the cover, you'll be greeted by the smooth, cream paper that Moleskine journals are best known for. The first page is where you can write your name and address in case your notebook gets lost in the wild. Of course, you can completely ignore the form and draw whatever you want on the page, too.
Writing in the Moleskine sketchbook feels fantastic. Pencil and pen both go on smoothly on the surface of the pages. If you don't abuse your pen or marker too much, the pages are actually thick enough to not let the ink bleed through to the next page. I personally drew two inked illustrations on the same leaf, but, unless you press super hard onto the page with the pen, you'll hardly see any traces of the drawing on the other side. I'm confident that Moleskine pages are durable enough to take acrylics, tempera, watercolors and markers. Plus, I've found that Moleskine pages aren't as easy to wrinkle when you're erasing pencil lines. The paper weight feels luxurious, and you can rest assured that your illustrations will be preserved since the pages are acid free.
Moleskine sketchbook also comes with a woven elastic band, a nice change of pace from the plain ribbons included with most journals. It fits the notebook snugly and keeps it safe and closed. However, I've found that it can start becoming loose after a few years, even though I've mostly kept the notebook in storage. This doesn't seem to be a problem exclusive to pricey Moleskines, though; my old PageOne sketchbook and A6 Copelle dot grid notebook have started exhibiting the same problem.
It also comes with an expandable back pocket, which is perfect for tucking in receipts, notes, movie tickets, and other memorabilia you'd want to keep. It feels a lot sturdier than the ones included with Venzi's soft journals, so I don't feel as worried about it suddenly tearing with an accidental pull. The back pocket is great for people who utilize their Moleskines as visual journals or pseudo-scrapbooks. If you peek into the pocket, you'll find a tiny booklet that outlines Moleskine journals' history, which I found to be another nice touch of class. It also comes with a nice built-in ribbon for marking the last page you've used, though I've noticed the edge can easily fray if you're not careful.
Moleskine sketchbooks definitely provide a high-quality experience for anybody who is serious about getting into the art and design fields. They come in different sizes: pocket-size (3.5 in by 5.5 in), large (5 in x 8.25 in) and A4. They can be bought at most branches of National Bookstore, Fully Booked, and Powerbooks. However, with a price tag of 2000 or so pesos, it's hard to justify this for the hobbyist on a budget. If this is too expensive for you, I would personally recommend the Monologue sketchbook, or the Copelle dot grid notebook instead. They offer a reasonable drawing experience, with more or less a comparable paper weight for the prices they ask for, without breaking your bank account in one fell swoop. If you don't mind spending extra, then I would wholeheartedly encourage you to go for it. One tip: there are some online resellers, like avalon.ph, that sometimes sell these notebooks at hugely discounted prices. Before you take out any of your money at your local bookstore, try comparing prices on Internet stores first.