MATS Bootcamp: Journal Cover

In February our MATS Bootcamp assignment was to design a cover for a journal on the theme of reading tea leaves.

I didn’t know anything about tea leaf reading so I did a bit of research and decided to illustrate some of the symbols that are often looked for when reading someone’s tea leaves. I also hand lettered a quotation about tea from Arthur Wing Pinero.


Since I love making patterns I also used the images I drew to create a new pattern. I couldn’t decide whether I like the dark blue or the pale background so I ended up with one of each.

My Current Art Kit

Two pens resting on a notebook, books about drawing in the background

‘Art’ Kit

I thought I’d write briefly about my current art kit – the things I’m using for my drawings. I feel a little bit like a fraud talking about my ‘art’ kit because I don’t really class myself as an artist but it seems like as good a term as any.

I’ve started to get back into drawing a bit more recently. My past attempts have been short-lived. This time I’m doing better and have done a little bit of drawing every day or so for about 6 or 7 weeks.

Sometimes the drawings are rubbish and other times I’m quite pleased with them. None of them have been perfect but that’s not really the point for me. I share some, I hide others but I’m drawing.

Keeping it Simple

Anyway, one thing I was conscious of when starting to draw again was the risk of me going out and buying lots of new art materials. The problem with this is that I love stationery in general and I know I could spend so long trying to find the perfect book, a set of pencils, maybe a pen and some paints that I’d never get on with actually making any drawings.

This time around I decided to NOT go out and buy loads of things. I did buy a few books about drawing (and made a point of reading them) and I’ve joined a few online groups, all for inspiration, guidance and encouragement (it’s nice to have other people doing the same thing as you to cheer you along the way). However, I haven’t bought any pens, pencils or sketchbooks.

2 pens resting on a brown notebook


Instead, my current art kit is a plain paged A5 notebook that I already owned. I used a craft knife to cut out the first few pages that I’d written things on and it was ready to use.

Two black pen nibs, edge of notebook


At the moment I’m drawing in black ink, with no colour or shading (other than what I might add digitally). I’d never really drawn with pens in the past so I was interested to see what I could produce when the lines can’t be erased.

The pen I use is a Zebra Jimnie Gel rollerball pen. It’s definitely not my favourite pen to write or draw with but we have a lot of them lying around at home so it was the first black ink pen I found when I started to draw.

I tried a black Sharpie (again, one I already owned) but I found the nib too fat. And once or twice I’ve used a Pilot V5 Hi Tecpoint liquid ink fine liner with a 0.5 nib (another pen lying around at home) for more detailed bits of drawings.

Apart from avoiding the over-excitement of buying new stationery and using that as a distraction from the actual drawing, I was also conscious of the possibility that I may lose interest in drawing (and have wasted lots of money in the process).

Testing my commitment

So by just using the materials I already own I’m kind of testing my commitment to drawing. If I fill this book I’m using, I’ve got a tiny sketch book to use and if I fill both books then I think I can be pretty certain that I’m reasonably committed to doing regular drawing.

Once I reach that point I may go out in search of a nicer pen or a new book as a reward but until that time comes I’m keeping things simple and keeping the focus on the drawing bit of drawing rather than buying new things!

What are the most basic tools that you need/ use for the creative things that you do?