Recently Ben Craig, one half of 'Boat and Balloon', took up the pens again and produced some pretty exciting drawings. So I asked him about his relationship with IKEA sketchbooks and late-night-'Warhammer'-painting tutorials. 

What role do these drawings play in your practise? 

They are point A. They are my way of getting out ideas in the first place. These drawings are a kind of base, which can lead to new work. At the moment I would like to work with the 3D-printer again, so I am thinking a lot about  threedimensional shapes and their surfaces and colours. Drawing is a way to design interesting, sometimes weird shapes. 

Sketchbook drawing by Ben Craig from Boat and Balloon using felt-tip and paint pens

What pens or techniques do you like to work with? 

Paint or gel pens are great! You can create layers of colour and marks similar to painting with a brush on canvas. This overlayering allows me to go over previous sketches- especially when I don't really like, what I have done before. It's a real challenge to turn the drawing into something different.

I love watching painting tutorials of 'Warhammer' figures for the clear method of painting: you start with a base coat, then you create layers with each colour and finally you highlight certain parts. This  process of base-layers-highlights works well on the figures and since I am a fan of systems I use it when drawing but in a less strict way. 

Sketchbook drawing by Ben Craig from Boat and Balloon using felt-tip and paint pens

Did you also come up with a system for your sketchbooks?

Yes, kind of..There are a few rules, which I have set for myself. For instance in this one (holds up the recent sketchbook) 

  1. I will not write a word apart from the start date. I keep a seperate note book and calendar for writing down thoughts and ideas. 
  2. I won't draw anything representational. Nothing should look like something. It's about keeping the drawings as ideas rather than actual things already associated with the world. 
  3. I don't start drawing on the first page, and then continue to fill the sketchbook page by page, because a pressure can build up for each drawing to fit in to some kind of narrative. Therefore I pick a page at random for each drawing. 
  4. I don't force myself into completely filling the sketchbooks either. I actually like the ones from IKEA. They are well-bound, have lots of pages and since they are cheap, I am not afraid of wasting anything if I mess up a drawing.

Sketchbook drawing by Ben Craig from Boat and Balloon using felt-tip and paint pens

So how would you describe the process of drawing in a sketchbook? 

I believe working in a sketchbook gets 'bad drawings' out of you. It is important to experiment and to loosen up again and again especially in the time between bigger projects. 'Good' or 'successfull' drawings happen mostly when I keep a balance between conscious and unconscious decisions. You could describe it as 'attempting fate' meaning you are trying to create something natural. I want to surpise myself.