Great Ideas Start with a Scribble

We see the finished products. We see the fancy programs and tech that goes into completing the product. But, when we get down to the nitty-gritty…the best ideas come from a scribble.

There is nothing as raw and free as scribbling on some paper with a great pencil. It’s the grown up version of creating with crayons and finger paint. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mac & adobe tech, but sometimes you need to pull away and just scribble. The freedom to erase, cross out or draw over your existing scribbles…or even to toss the paper in the trash for 2 points and start again. It’s where great ideas come from.

“The best way to a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” – Linus Pauling

Chris Michel, a designer from Zurb says it this way. “Sketching gives people the freedom to consider every wild idea without the fear of making a mistake. This is a creative, generative process that can not only discover great ideas, but create better teamwork. With lots of ideas on the table teams down into fuller, more amazing decisions in our products.”

Now, I realize most of us have a pencil and paper around the house somewhere, but here are some my favorites.


The Dixon Ticonderoga Renew Recycled Tire Pencil – made from some of the billions of scrapped tires in stockpiles today. They feature a #2 graphite core for smooth easy writing and latex-free erasers. A great choice to scribble with.

The Palomino Blackwing high-quality graphite pencil. A tribute to the famous Eberhardt-Faber Blackwing 602 – one of the best pencils ever made. While not as good as it’s predecessor, still an amazing tool. It will change the way you think of pencils.


Rhodia Writing Pads – This french stationary company has their own cult following, with notable users including Paul Smith and Francis Ford Coppola. With grids, smooth paper and unique scored cover which folds back neatly. The stiff back cover makes writing easy and portable. All Rhodia paper is acid-free and ink & pencil friendly. Their bright orange covers make them instantly recognizable in the store or on the street.

Moleskine Notebooks & Journals –  For two centuries now they have been the legendary notebook of artists, writers, intellectuals and travelers. From gifted artists Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), to poet and leader of the surrealist movement André Breton (1896-1966) to Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) considered the most influential writer of the last century, to famous travel writer Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989).

In Ernest Hemingway’s memoir, Moveable Feast, he chronicles Paris in the 1920s just after World War I while spending time writing in various Paris cafés. Hemingway reflects on the quintessential moments ordering a cafe au lait and pulling out his notebook and pencil from his pocket to start writing. It is this simple ritual that he describes so well.  That comfortable feeling, when even in the mist of a bustling café that one can immerse oneself into thoughtful prose or a delicate sketch. During this time in Paris, Hemingway apparently had also been working on The Sun Also Rises using his trusted Moleskine. Not a surprising notion to those that have come to know and love Moleskine.

So whether you grab some lined notebook paper from Office Depot or a beautiful black Moleskine…whether you pick up a chewed on yellow #2 pencil or a Palomino Blackwing, remember…great ideas come from scribbles.

Now go and create something.

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2 thoughts on “Great Ideas Start with a Scribble

  1. When I visited the Precious Moments – Sam Butcher gallery in Arkansas, the beautiful gate of the compound was originated on a napkin while he was in Hong Kong. The napkin is housed in a glass display in the chapel… true article.

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