Sketchbook Conversations -- a Chat with Tracey English

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Tracey English. Tracey is an illustrator and surface pattern designer based in London. I've long admired her beautiful cut paper illustrations (created with hand painted tissue paper) and I'm delighted to have her here today sharing her sketchbook story with us.

I'll let Tracey take over now and share her story in her own words:

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, matryoshka dolls, collage

I have to be honest and say this is my very first sketch book for a very long time. I started this summer to try and keep up my daily artwork while my teenage sons were off school and we were away on holidays, and I am now hooked, before this I was creating everyday but just on sheets of paper. 

Tracey English, sketchbook, art, sailboats, waves, collage

Just as the holidays began I finished the one hundred day project and I wanted to keep up the habit of producing something however small on a daily basis. I am now wondering why I didn’t start a sketchbook a long time ago. 

It is so great to have a small space where it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, you can just create away without being too worried about how it turns out.

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, houses, collage

I try to keep myself inspired by always keeping an eye on what's around me, whether I’m on my morning dog walk or flicking through the pages of a magazine. During the holidays it has been a lot easier as we have been out and about a lot so their have been many more visual treats to feast my eyes on!

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, peacock, collage

I am a collage artist so my favorite tools are a pair of children’s scissors, because they are nice and small; old magazines; my box of hand coloured tissue paper and some PVA glue. I don’t really need anything else.

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, blue, collage

I read somewhere it takes 30 days to form a habit, so my advice is work a little each day until you are hooked. Allow yourself as much time as you have available, don’t make it a chore, it is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. 

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, cats, collage

Just play and maybe some new ideas may come out of what you are creating. I have used some of my sketchbook pages to develop into surface patterns.

Tracey English, sketchbook, workspace, art, birds, collage

As an illustrator and surface pattern designer, I create work for commissions, licensing projects and just for fun. You can find me:

Tracey English, collage, London, double decker bus

Thank you, Tracey, for sharing your sketchbook and your story with us today!

You can catch up on the other Sketchbook Conversations posts and find more sketchbook inspiration here. And if you're an artist who works in sketchbooks and would like to be featured, please contact me and I'll send you the details.

*Photos in this post © Tracey English. Used with permission.


  1. Another great sketchbook conversation! I had an idea in my my mind that a sketchbook is for sketching but since reading the sketchbook conversations it seems there are no 'rules'! I can write and paint in them and now collage too! Tracey has inspired me to (when I have time) use a sketchbook for collage. I think I would be more comfortable with this rather than using pencil or paints. Isn't that strange? :)

    1. Thank you, Simone!

      Sketchbooks are for whatever we want them to be for! Do what you're moved to do. Collage really is fun to do and I think you're right that it can be less intimidating. So no, it's not strange at all!

  2. Another gem in the series! What I find so compelling is the diversity in all the techniques and styles presented. Loving them all!

    1. Yes! My hope is that people (who might be intimidated by sketchbooks) will see that there is no right or wrong way to keep a sketchbook!

      So glad you've been enjoying the series! :)

  3. I love Tracey's artwork - her blog is on my list of favorites! You are offering glimpses into the sketchbooks of some wonderful artists. Have you tried to reach Jennifer Orkin Lewis (August Wren)? She keeps a fabulous everyday painting sketchbook - I love her style! Lovely post, Anne! xo

    1. So glad you're enjoying the series, Judy. I do love Tracey's artwork, too. So joyful!

      I have not reached out to Jennifer Orkin Lewis. I was thinking that she and her sketchbooks are so well-known (a few of the other artists I've featured have mentioned her as an inspiration) that my blog readers already know her art. Maybe not, though. She is an inspiriation!


  4. I love the collage art that Tracey creates. It's so amazing what she can do with just tissue paper and glue. Very pretty and inspiring. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I know! It's wonderful. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! It's been so fun to peek into these artists sketchbooks and share their stories!


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