Behind the Scenes: Creating a Limited-Edition Sketchbook with Illustrator Jessica Smith

Behind the Scenes: Creating a Limited-Edition Sketchbook with Illustrator Jessica Smith

I've spent much of this year working on a dream collaboration with illustrator Jessica Smith and I'm so excited to finally be able to unveil it! We've designed and produced a limited-edition clothbound sketchbook - perfect for all your Summer sketching. Keep reading to learn about this exciting project!

Jessica Smith is an illustrator and artist based in Bath, UK. Her work is known for its playful, colourful, and bold nature and can be found far and wide: from billboards and packaging to books and stationery. I've been a long-time admirer and Instagram friend of Jess and when the opportunity to collaborate came up, we both jumped at the chance.


Jess using our collaboration sketchbook.


Since starting Odd Orange, I've wanted to collaborate with other artists to create fun and unique stationery. I longed to widen my circle and give back to the creative community with paid work and joyful products. This is the second collaboration I've taken part in, after working with Magali Franov last year, and I can't wait to continue expanding this arm of my business.


Jessica Smith x Odd Orange collaboration sketchbook.

What We've Made

  • A limited run of 100 handmade sketchbooks.
  • Hardback clothbound covers in three gorgeous colours.
  • Digitally printed patterned end pages, illustrated by Jessica Smith.
  • B5 size (176 x 250 mm / 6.9 x 9.8 ").
  • Mixed-media artist paper, 190 gsm, natural white, smooth finish.
  • 80 pages.
  • Yellow ribbon bookmark.
  • Lay-flat binding.
  • Made from recycled and responsibly sourced materials. Vegan.


Numbering by hand.


Limited-edition postcards and bookmarks included with every sketchbook.


Launching Wednesday the 10th of July at 6 pm BST!

I have to say, this collaboration has been practically effortless. Given our joint passion for bold palettes and block-colour artwork, combining our brains to create a sketchbook that encompassed our personalities felt natural. The result is something we're both immensely proud of and can't wait for you all to discover and use too!


Designing the Sketchbook

We started discussing and designing the sketchbook at the beginning of the year, having casually thrown ideas around for months prior. I'd previously told Jess of my love for her still-life illustrations, which led to us brainstorming ideas for endpaper designs connecting to still-life. Eventually, Jess created this gorgeous pattern, which now features in our collaboration sketchbook. Check out her blog post to learn more about the illustration process.


A section of our Pinterest board.


Mood board.


Jessica's thumbnail sketches of initial ideas.


Jessica starting to paint the original endpapers.


Almost finished!


Choosing the colour palette was probably the most difficult part of the design process. Because we gravitated toward similar palettes, we spent lots of time trying to find combinations that reflected our taste but were unlike anything I'd released previously. We eventually settled on forest green, canary yellow and bubblegum pink, and couldn't be happier!


We both initially went away and came up with our own colour palettes before coming back to compare and select. These were my first ideas, based on colours I found within Jessica's work.


Decided colour palette.


Another obstacle that arose was the pink book cloth. Jess often uses a particular shade of pink in her work that I'm in love with. However, my supplier does not stock a colour even close to it and finding anything similar in the UK was nearly impossible. I knew this colour was imperative to the sketchbook and I eventually found it through a supplier in Germany. After weeks of searching and a hefty shipping fee (which I had to pay twice because I'm an idiot and didn't order enough the first time), I'm incredibly excited to share this sketchbook with the perfect pink cover! I can't stop staring at it, it's gorgeous.


We also decided to make the sketchbooks B5 in size. This is the first time I've made B5 sketchbooks and I'm thrilled about it! With both of us being fans of this size (and not many B5 sketchbooks available on the market!) it was a no-brainer. I like to describe B5 as the Goldilocks size: not too big, not too small. It has the portability of A5 and the large surface of A4 - ideal for sketching outdoors or in the studio with heaps of space to have fun and experiment!


Making the Sketchbooks

After the design process was complete, I spent 3 months making them all from scratch. Here are some photographs of my process.


Art paper folded into signatures and stacked.


I poked holes into signatures before sewing them together by hand, glueing the spines, and trimming the edges.


Finished end pages arrived and ready to be trimmed to size.


Trimming and folding before attaching them to the book blocks.


Attaching the ribbon bookmarks.


Applying mull to the spines whilst enjoying a nice Longjing tea!


I cut down the cover boards and book cloth to size before glueing each piece together. This is the beginning part of making the covers. I'm still finalising them and once they're done, I'll attach them to the book blocks and leave to press before doing final touches and quality checks.


I'm so proud of how these sketchbooks turned out and I had so much fun working with Jess on this project. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you plan to grab one for yourself!

The Jessica Smith x Odd Orange collaboration sketchbook will launch on Wednesday the 10th of July at 6 pm BST!

I hope you have a wonderful day full of joy, inspiration, and colour!

- Morgan




Follow Jessica Smith


Instagram: jessica_smith_illustration

Blog post: jessica smith x odd orange blog post


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Comments (2)

  • Babs on Jul 02, 2024

    Wow 😍 thank your so much for your efforts and love. Your illustrations are so cute and I love the color palette 🎨. All the best for you!!! 💛

  • Vici on Jun 28, 2024

    Beautiful. Can’t wait! (Save one for me).

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