Over the last 13 years, artist José Naranja has been filling pocket-sized notebooks with his own visual diary. By illustrating his daily experiences, observations, ideas, and memories, Naranja considers his ongoing project as “a love letter to notebooks, a flight of fancy and also a part of [him].” Each of Naranja’s notebook pages are packed full of his own writing, illustrations, stamps, and photos, all of which beautifully document the life of this well-traveled artist.
After discovering the 9x14cm, 192-page Moleskine notebooks in 2005, Naranja fell in love with their compact size. Today, the self-described “notebookmaker” handmakes his own, and even shares his bookbinding process on his blog, where he reveals, “The notebook made by yourself offers a higher level of satisfaction than any other. You add the passion and love for it, your favorite paper and details. You add a part of yourself in it.”
From color studies and botanical illustrations to stories, personal ponderings, and even hand-drawn board games, Naranja’s sketchbooks are an incredibly intimate view into the artist’s mind. On one page, he illustrates a route map of his trip through America, and on another, he draws characters from his favorite movie, The Handmaiden. Naranja describes his work as “a vault of dreams, ideas and experiences.”
Naranja sells an edited compilation of his best work in an elaborate, multilingual book called The Orange Manuscript. Find out more on his website, and follow the artist on Instagram for daily updates from his sketchbooks.