Improving my drawing skills is something I strive for, not just for my career but also because I want to be a better artist. No matter how many books you follow or how many classes you take, the best advice has always been to draw every day. Just half an hour of daily doodling can improve your skills over time – Its that simple.
The problem is life inevitably gets in the way, and what begins as a daily routine slowly gets pushed aside for tight deadlines and other priorities.
I do try to take a sketch book out with me so I can squeeze in some sketching while waiting for an appointment or a bus but I often forget it.
In July this year Ralph Thomas launched a Kickstarter campaign to help solve this problem by combining an every day wallet with a sketchbook. By the time he had reached the deadline in August he had almost doubled his $30,000 goal by reaching an impressive $55,911.
The sketch wallets have now been made and are starting to be sent out to the people who pledged and I was lucky enough to be sent one too.
What I want to know is will this simple wallet live up to my expectations? Is it easier and more comfortable to carry around compared to my current wallet and small Moleskine sketch book? Only time will tell, but for now read on to find out my initial thoughts on the product.
The wallet comes in a stylish box which makes it perfect as a gift, and depending on what you pledged, you will also receive three extra sketch books. It currently comes in two colours, black and brown, with the pads also matching your colour of choice.
Also included as part of one of the stretch goals is a small pencil which slides perfectly into the upper section inside the wallet. Once this and the pads have run out you can order replacements direct from Ralph but you can obviously use your own stationary too. As an example a Moleskine Cahier Journal, which is 3.5″ by 5.5″ is said to fit perfectly.
As you can see below, on the left is my usual arsenal when out and about. My bulky wallet, sketch book and a pen. On the right is the sketch wallet for comparison, so i`ll be swapping to this for the next few weeks to see how it actually works.
The wallet is made from leather and has a nice, soft feel to it. The outside is smooth with bold white stitching and the inside has a soft felt lining. The wallet itself is larger than you would expect from a standard wallet, its about the same height as an iPhone 6S Plus, and a good half an inch wider, but it does need to be this big to accommodate a decent sized sketching area.
On the inside you have your sketch book on the right and on the left space to put your cards, pen or pencil and also an easily accessible flap behind those to put your cash, receipts or anything else you usually jam into your wallets. On the top there is a large sketch wallet tab which also cleverly doubles as an extra pen holder.
In order to keep the wallet as flat as possible the card sections are above each other, but they are also quite slim. I could only really fit four of my cards in it, which isn`t a huge problem as I only really ever use two or three, but there isn`t any immediately obvious room for anything else. So if you need to carry your credit cards, debit cards, driving licence, bus pass, Oyster card, library card, reward cards, loyalty cards etc. basically if you like to have everything handy they may not all fit in.
Another option is to stash them behind the sketch book or in the flap area, so there is extra space if needed, but the more you squeeze in the more bulky it will become. I managed to fit an extra fifteen cards before it wouldn`t close properly, so there is space even if its not hugely obvious.
The pads which come with the wallet are a nice fit and complete the overall look. They hold around 26 pages for you to pour your imaginations onto, although the paper itself isn`t super high quality it does the job. If your using a standard ball point pen or a pencil you will be fine and nothing will come through onto the opposite side. With ink however you will get some of your work showing through, which could distract you when creating other masterpieces.
So my initial impressions are hugely positive. For $68, (roughly £45 or 63 Euros), its a bit more expensive than your standard wallet but this is everything but a standard wallet. It looks and feels smart, is a good quality product and at the end of the day if something like this gets us all to draw more, then its worth every penny.
I`ve currently only had the wallet for a few days, so I think its too early to form an opinion on it just yet. What I will do is update this section, and the section below after a week or two, once its had time to settle into my lifestyle.
Although Ralph Thomas supplied the wallet for me to test, the opinions offered in this review are my own.