By Joshua Herring
Kutztown’s freshest art organization, the Sketchbook Club, has quickly established a growing community of creative students. Formed out of the desire to make art outside of the classroom, the club has become a place for students to escape the pressures of school and learn from each other.
“We have an incredibly diverse group of creative people at different skill levels who can feed off of each other,” says Sketchbook Club founder and President Christina Davies. Each week, more and more students fill room 209 of the Sharadin Art Building at noon on Fridays.
“The club is open to everyone,” says Davies. “Even for those who aren’t art majors, Sketchbook Club is meant for being open and expressive with other people. It is a lot of fun.”
At the start of this fall semester, the club finally became an official student organization, overseen by advisor and illustrator professor Kevin McCloskey. Beginning first as the Sketchbook Initiative in 2013, it wasn’t until the spring of 2014 that the club began to see at least a dozen students attend every week.
Davies began to spread her idea about starting the Sketchbook Initiative. She says the idea first came to her at freshman orientation, when her sister asked Professor McCloskey if there were any drawing clubs. “We were shocked to hear that there really weren’t any,” says Davies.
After her first semester at Kutztown, she created the Sketchbook Initiative as a small gathering of her friends to draw together because, she says, “unless I had a set time each week to do my own stuff, my sketchbook would fall to the wayside.” Originally, the club met in the Bear’s Den. “It became a way of dealing with the stresses of our major, a reminder of how fun art is, and to spend time with one another.”
Now, she says, “It’s much bigger than I ever thought it would be during my time here.”
The club eventually drew recurring crowds of students. At meetings, people chat, listen to music and just draw, according to Davies. “A lot of the time we show our sketchbooks to one another and sometimes we look at cool art tutorials or illustrations that inspire everyone to make good art.”
The essential appeal of Sketchbook Club is its laidback atmosphere. Students get the impression that, as Davies says, “If you just want to get better at drawing, that’s what this club is for, no matter what your skill level.”
Other than being a space to make art and interact, Sketchbook Club sometimes hosts speakers and participates in group projects. This fall’s first meeting featured a discussion with local comic book creators and in December, art director and sketchbook enthusiast, Danny Gregory will be doing a talk. Also, McCloskey is talking with the modern language studies department about having the club involved in illustrating a bilingual children’s book.
“At Sketchbook Club, we inspire one another to do better,” said Davies. To anyone interested in joining, she says, “It’s just a matter of picking up a pencil.” Her only requirement of members is to make an effort to draw.