What are the best sketchbooks brands or manufacturers?

Finding the perfect sketchbook for your art is not easy. There are many factors to consider, some of them are:

  1. Medium that the artist use. A medium can be dry or wet.
  2. Weight and size and number of sheets. Some artists might prefer 100 sheets sketchbook some might want more.
  3. Binding and cover.
  4. Material and finish.

We have written at length about those aforementioned factors in this article.

However, one question that we frequently asked is: what about the brand? What are the best sketchbooks brands? Who are the best sketchbook makers or manufacturers?

These are not easy questions to answer, hence we have dedicated this article to look at some into details some of these well known sketchbook or art journal producers. 

Best Sketchbooks Brands or Manufacturers

Strathmore

Strathmore - Best Sketchbooks Brands

Strathmore is an established brand/company. It is founded, can you believe it, more than a century ago. It was founded back in 1892, by Horace Moses in West Springfield.

Strathmore brand quickly became famous for being the highest quality art papers internationally and its reputation stands to this day.

Strathmore brand has changed hands a couple times during its time but their sketchbooks remain top choice regardless of medium, whether it is watercolor, charcoal, pastel, pencil or pen and ink.

Find out more about Strathmore here.

Well known Strathmore products

Strathmore is known for having a wide array of sketch papers and sketchbooks for artists from different levels and different medium.

Strathmore grouped their products into series, these series denote the levels that the products are intended for, for example:

  • 100 Series is targeted for youth ages 5 or older
  • 200 Series is for practices, targeted for beginners
  • 300 Series is for practices and finished arts, targeted for intermediate artists
  • 400 Series is for finished art, targeted for intermediate and professional artists
  • Finally, they have 500 Series which is for finished art, targeted for professional artists

As mentioned earlier, Strathmore has a dizzying array of sketch related products. This makes it hard to keep track the permutation of series, medium and format.

Luckily they have a easy to use drop down product finder on their website. This product finder is really useful to find the right Strathmore product for your needs.

Strathmore products appear in our reviews quite often too, check them out here:

Artists that endorse Strathmore

Pentalic

Pentalic - Best Sketchbooks Brands

It is unfortunate, that couldn't find much background information on Pentalic. However we know that the company has been around at least since 2005, as that’s when they started their website.

Many of Pentalic employees are artists and writers themselves which mean as a company they understand how to design for usability of their products.

Well known Pentalic products 

Pentalic doesn’t carry as much products as Strathmore, however some of their products are unique and well designed - this has resulted in loyal followers of Pentalic brand. We will talk about two examples of these products soon.

Pentalic claims that all of their products are acid free (pH neutral), as we often mentioned in our sketchbook reviews, this means the papers will last for a long time. As Pentalic puts it, these papers are formulated to preserve the artist’s work for future generations.

Aqua Journal is one of its most famous products. It is easy to see why, the journal combines portability, maximum protection (vinyl hard cover) with nice thick watercolor papers (300 g/m2), we simply couldn’t think of a better watercolor sketchbook for travelling.

We really like, Dream Catcher, which is another Pentalic’s famous product. We cover it this article as well as in our best watercolor sketchbook article.

The sketchbook has an accordion-folded feature which makes it one of the most interesting sketchbooks in the market.

Artists that endorse Pentalic

Canson

Canson - Best Sketchbooks Brands

Like Strathmore, Canson is a company that has a long long history, it even spans centuries (four and a half centuries to be exact).

The company was established in 1557 by a Frenchman Jean Montogolfier in Beaujolais France, although it wasn’t called Canson then (more on that name later).

Legend has it that Montgolfier was imprisoned by the Turks and subjected to work in a paper mill in Damascus. After he was freed, he brought back to Europe: his paper making knowledge and experience. He then set up a paper mill in Beaujolais.

A couple of generations later, one of Montgolfier descendant – Etienne, married Barthélémy de Canson who ended up running the paper mill after her death.

In 1801, the mill was called Montgolfier et Canson and then few years later, the name was again changed to Canson-Motgolfier. Fast forward to now, this humble paper mill in France has become an internationally known and respected company.

As with other businesses, the company has been bought and sold couple of times; currently it is owned by the Hamelin group, a European conglomerate that focuses on school and office products. The brand itself nowadays is mostly just known as Canson.

So there you have it, it certainly an interesting history reading, what we wrote above is just a summary. If you'd like to learn more about the rich history of Canson brand, you can check out this article on their website. 

Canson and sustainability

Before we look at the specific products that Canson is well known for, we’d like to point out the good work that Canson does environmentally. We have a soft spot for companies or brands that are environmentally responsible or sociable responsible and Canson is happen to be one.

Here are some of the good things that Canson does for the environment:

  • Canson only sourced wood fibers stemming from non-threathened forests.
  • Canson is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by carefully choosing suppliers that are environmentally responsible. Furthermore, Canson uses raw materials as much as possible and reduce transport before sites.
  • Canson eco-friendly techniques in its product design, for example: the usage of water-based inks and neutral glue.

More information on Canson initiatives on environment and sustainability can be found here.

Well known Canson products

Canson XL Series Mixed Media Paper Pad is one of Canson’s most famous product line especially among art students and beginners artists. The pad contains 60 sheets which is comparatively more compared to similar products, more sheets allow more room for experimentation. Combined with an affordable pricing, it is no wonder that this pad is very popular, especially among art students.

We have reviewed some of Canson sketchbooks / pads, so make sure you have a quick look at them:

Artists that endorse Canson

Given the long history of Canson, it is no wonder the brand is associated with both past artists and modern artists.

Notable yesterday’s artists that have used Canson papers for their arts are:

Notable today’s artists that use Canson papers are:

Conclusion

When considering a purchase of a sketchbook or an art journal or art supply in general, a well known brand does give some weight. But it shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, as we have outlined in the beginning there are other more relevant factors to consider.

But having said that products from a good brand with a good reputation tend to have better quality. As reputable brand quite often is a result of consistent production of high quality products.

In our article today, we have looked at best sketchbooks brands available, we hope you'd find this article interesting and helpful. We love to hear your comments, so don't be shy in leaving them below 🙂 Until then, keep on making beautiful art.

About the Author

Lena is an artist, she enjoys arts, cooking, scrolling through social media, writing and spending time with her 2 boys - not necessarily in that order. While not busy on her art and writing - she can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes.

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