book review

Brave New Work by Hallie Bateman Book Review

I was sent Brave New Work by Hallie Bateman by MoMA to review on the blog. My thoughts on this book shared in this post are completely my own.


Brave New Work is a kind of workbook that aims to help you find your inner creative style. The book is filled with monochrome pages of activities that encourage you to think and work differently. There are lots of different prompts designed to get you scribbling, doodling, writing and generally having some fun.

The book begins with some simple tasks such as choosing your artists name, creating your artists signature and an urban sketcher style activity of drawing your kit. This is a nice introduction to the book beginning slowly but getting your creative mind working. You can work through whatever pages you want, there is no order or path to follow which I really like. If an activity feels too difficult or requires too much brain power you can move on and skip it.


Some of my favourite pages are drawing pots for plants, turning a squiggle into something, filling a wardrobe with clothes and making a list of random words. Each activity is small and takes a few minutes to complete but they really get you thinking differently.


Throughout the book you’re encouraged to make mess, to not be perfect and to be inventive. The style of the book looks like it has been handwritten, there are no perfect edges or lines and no neat and tidy handwriting. It helps remove any hesitation the user may have about ruining the perfect pages. This book screams out to be used and as the title suggests, asks you to be brave when creating your new work.

My hand drawings remind me of The Witches clawed hands from Quentin Blakes drawings (I am in no way saying I can draw like Quentin Blake!)

My hand drawings remind me of The Witches clawed hands from Quentin Blakes drawings (I am in no way saying I can draw like Quentin Blake!)

The interior paper stock is good. I mostly opted for a drawing pen, my Uni-pin or the Artline pens, when playing around but I carried out a simple pen test and the paper stock could handle most things quite well. The only thing that gave some real bleed through was the Sharpie permanent marker which is to be expected.

Pen test 

Pen test 

I really like this book and its goal in getting the user to be creative and become an artist. It’s a great gift for the friend who enjoys drawing or is a little creative.

One of the opening pages 

One of the opening pages 

For this post I will sign out with my artists name - Jen Pen/Lucy September Kamala/Pomplamoose!

A big thanks to MoMA for sending me this book to review on the blog.

Adventures in Stationery by James Ward: Book Review

I have had the Adventures in Stationery book on my shelf for some time and have been really slow in getting round to actually reading it. Wards aptly named book goes through his stationery experiences. It’s nice to read a book written by a Brit as I can easily relate to a lot of his stationery experiences, however I have to admit I was quite disappointed with this book. I thought I would really geek out reading this but that didn't happen.

This book does have the odd relatable chapter. I enjoyed finding out the back story of Tipp-Ex and how this product came about. Similarly the chapter on pencils was very interesting. The one chapter that I thought I would enjoy was the back to school chapter. This is where the addiction starts for most of us after all and it’s a period I remember well. I had a Pepsi pencil case at one point and definitely spent a ridiculous amount of time in my local WHSmith trying to pick out the right stationery for the year. But I felt a little let down by this chapter expecting to read more on Wards experiences. However it quickly progressed onto the Helix story and Wards handwriting development through school. My experience was different to Wards, we moved from the Staedtler Noris pencil onto a Parker Vector fountain pen. Berol handwriting pens didn’t make an appearance for me.

This is one small example of my feelings towards Wards book. The thing is I just found it a little dull. It explored quite a bit of how certain stationery items came about, which at some point could be useful, but right now I didn’t find it very interesting. On top of this the layout of Wards book doesn’t really work for me. A format similar to the new Stationery Fever book could have worked really well. If you are interested in reading this book I would recommend just dipping in and out concentrating on the various chapters which you find interesting. Reading it front to back is pretty tough going.