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Judge This Book By Its Cover.


Judge This Book By Its Cover.

Max Makewell

I recently took the L train into Manhattan to meet some friends for dinner.

If you’ve ever taken the L–– first of all, I’m sorry. Riding the L line is a case study on the human condition within New York.


When the train pulled into the Montrose Street station, an older gentleman wearing a fedora boarded my car. Normally I wouldn’t have thought twice about him. But moments after the train pulled out of the station he began to loudly yell into a slice of mango, which he held to his ear as if it were a cell phone.

I’ve lived in New York for a lot of my life, and I don’t typically react to its inhabitants’ peculiarities. But something about the intensity with which he fought the slice of mango made me pull out my notebook and inscribe the word: “mangophone”.

A woman who was seated next to me saw what I had written and laughed. Then she pointed to a rough drawing I’d sketched out in the margins and asked if I was an artist. I told her that I was.

“Lucky you,” she said. “I’m a lawyer. My notebooks are full of doodles too, but they don’t look like yours.”


When she got off the train at Union Square, I was still thinking about what she’d said to me. The idea that someone in a career so far removed from my own could practice the same method of reflection as I do was interesting.


Notebooks are full of secrets, and hopes, and plans. They’re a place for private reflection, for rants and raves. They’re for making lists and making art and everything in between.

By the time I got off of the L, I’d already written down my launch strategy and begun to sketch my design.


My notebook is an almanac to creation: an eccentric log of thoughts and feelings which I use to form concepts for my art when I’m back in the studio. It’s a tool I use when I paint, as much a part of the process as the canvas or my brushes.

When the lawyer from the L train clued me in to the importance of her own notebook, I knew that I wanted to share this part of my artistic process with the world.

And what better way to do so than by releasing a Makewell Art notebook?


When it comes to these Makewell Art notebooks, you can judge a book by its cover. I hope that these Makewell Art notebooks bring you as much clarity and creativity as my sketchbooks have always brought me.

Max Makewell