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Sonny Cancio’s Amazing Student Sketchbook


Sketchbooks are designers first port of call when working on an idea or concept—at Shillington we encourage all of our students to work in their sketchbooks before jumping onto the computer. Every student (and designer) has their own way of working in a sketchbook. Some are slapdash or tactile while other’s opt for the more polished look. Sonny Cancio a full-time student at Shillington New York definitely fell into the latter category. He blew us away with his incredible approach to thumbnails and note-taking.

Watch his video to see a few pages from his immaculate sketchbook and keep reading to find out why Sonny thinks sketchbooks are important for designers.

What were you up to before Shillington?

I’m a husband and father of two. Before Shillington I decided to shift careers, I worked in pharmacy retail business management for 17 years. Even though my lifelong inclination for arts and design did not have any obvious space in my previous work, it almost always came out spontaneously even at work, as in all the other aspects of my life.

How important do you think sketchbooks are for designers?

A traditional way of conceptualizing an idea on a sheet of paper helps me put my ideas one step closer to actualization. It helps me visualize my thoughts more clearly with the flexibility of trial and error without putting too much at stake when creating a successful design work, at least before hitting the computer. You won’t know whether your first idea is the best until you explore others, so it’s best not to limit yourself with a single variation of your idea and to allow your ideas to evolve.

As a designer, sketching provides me with an effective visual communication tool and a way to organize my work plan.

What would you say to someone considering studying at Shillington?

Shillington’s ability to simulate real life work experiences in their classrooms is a challenge any student can’t do without. A fast-paced curriculum with realistic deadlines is the closest anyone can get to an actual job setting. Also, as in an actual work setting, networking is the key as your teachers and classmates would be your lifeline even after leaving school. Shillington’s proven track record of providing its students with excellent education and experience convinced me that it was the right choice for me.

Many thanks to Sonny for his answers and allowing to share his amazing sketchbook. See more from Sonny on his website.

Keen to find out more about ways to work sketchbooks? Check out our Sketchbook Advice for Designers article in our resources section!

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