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‘A sketchbook always had to be on you and in use’

A culmination of some Courtney Wotherspoon’s initial roughs for Smirnoff’s Canada Day bottle design.

Courtney Wotherspoon has done everything from helping design a café to designing the typography for a Cougar footwear ad to creating album art for the indie band Provincial Parks. The Toronto-based illustrator, graphic designer and interior decorator has a highly layered, playful aesthetic that always manages to look clean and fresh. When it comes to sketching, she rarely if ever begins with an exact idea that goes linearly to the finished product. "I tend to be more of a doodler," she says.

Here, she discusses how her sketchbook figures in her creative process and describes how one recent project went from the page to the finished product.

"When I went to school [at the Pratt Institute in New York], it was hammered into us that a sketchbook always had to be on you and in use. I have a three-by-five [inch] Moleskine in my bag at all times, and I'll also work in the five-by-nine size, depending on what size bag I have on me. I'll usually sketch what's around me. I'll look around and draw what I'm seeing. I'll do signage or lettering or food that I'm eating. It's so easy now to go days at a time without picking up a pencil or touching paper. It just feels more honest to me to draw something on a piece of paper. It's like a little exercise to keep working that muscle.

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"Smirnoff came to me to illustrate a limited-edition Canada Day [vodka] bottle, keen on the abundant, layered illustration style that I create. Mixed-media drawings, layers of Canadiana and lettering, all done in 360 degrees. It was a dream. There were dozens of drawings, sketches and layouts passed between the art director and me before we got to the final product. By the end of the process, I had a stack of drawings with nowhere to live. This is a culmination of some of those initial roughs, by way of scissors and glue stick."

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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