The Composition Notebook

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The artifact from my personal archive that I chose was a composition notebook. These have been my notebook of choice throughout my life but most specifically in high school.

For my research, I looked at a variety of sources including poetry, blog posts, articles, and reviews. One of my favorites was an art review of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s composition notebook that recently got published. I admire him as an artist and peeking into something so personal of his like his notebook is quite special. Another source I enjoyed reading was an article about a man who used exclusively composition notebooks throughout his entire life. The piece is titled “26 Years, 85 Notebooks” where the author discusses the importance of recording his life to either look back on or just release from his mind.

For visual research, I looked up artists who have either kept composition notebooks such as Basquiat or artists that make their own renditions of the classic notebook. I stumbled upon Candace Hicks and her work. She sews plush composition notebooks and fills them with her own quirky musings. Another rendition of the composition notebook is “Amelia’s Notebook,” the children’s book series that I grew up reading. I had forgotten this series even existed before researching for my project, but was pleasantly reminded of the joys Amelia and her journals used to bring me when I happened upon an image of her book cover while researching.

To mash up both written and visual research on this beloved item from my young adulthood, I decided to transcribe my piece into an actual composition notebook. It felt right. To read my narrative and take a closer look at some of the images I found, click through the slideshow above.


Artestar. Inside Cover of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Notebook. Digital image. WSJ. N.p., 1 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Bierut, Michael. “26 Years, 85 Notebooks.” Design Observer. N.p., 2009. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Decomposition Book. Digital image. Book Binders. N.p., n.d. Web.

Hicks, Candace. String Theory Volume III. Digital image. MCBA Prize. N.p., n.d. Web.

Kennedy, Tanya. “I’ve Got MY Black & White Composition Book with Me … Do YOU? | Snack O’clock.” Snack O’Clock. N.p., 16 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

MBW. “COMPOSITION BOOKS.” Vernacular Typography. N.p., 30 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Montag’s Blue Horse Composition Book. Digital image. Vernacular Typography. N.p., 30 Nov. 2010. Web.

Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Notebook. Digital image. MarissaMoss. N.p., n.d. Web.

Myles, Eileen. “PMD.” Poetry Foundation. N.p., 14 July 2009. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

Thek, Paul. If You Don’t Like This Book, You Don’t Like Me. Digital image. Daily Serving. N.p., 31 Jan. 2015. Web.

Woodson, Jacqueline. “On Paper.” Poetry Foundation. N.p., 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.

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