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Case Study: Urban Nest Realty

ScoutBooks_UrbanNest_cherryUrban Nest is a Portland based realty company that believes in making life a little more wonderful. Each season the realtors at Urban Nest stop by the new abodes of many of their clients and drop off a “pop-by” gift.  This year, Urban Nest  designed these charming Scout Books for their Spring Pop-By, paired with an Urban Nest pen. What a lovely way to start the season, and keep in touch!

Great sketchbook pics from the always amazing Sam Alden!

(via joekeatinge)

jaybendt: Thank you for the follow. I adore scout books -- especially the Lisa Perrin and Andrea Kalfas ones! -- and am glad to see you're interested in seeing more of my work. I am intrigued, though, how do you guys go about collaborating with artists? They seem like the end product are all very fun and quite lovely.

Hi Jay! Thanks so much for the kind words, that means a lot to us. We’ve got some more beautiful illustrated notebooks coming out this month, and I think you will dig ‘em!

For the notebooks which Scout Books publishes and sells online and in stores (like the designs by Perrin and Andrea Kalfas you mentioned), we work along a model very much like a traditional publisher… We determine themes or styles we would like to develop, and we hire artists whom we feel will be a great fit for the subject matter. We find our artists on web platforms like Tumblr, through other publications, or sometimes artists just contact us directly. 

Another way that we work with artists is through our robust Custom Scout book program… Many artists have hired us to make unique notebooks featuring their art as promotional or retail items (some recent illustrator/designer clients include Gaby&Co, Swiss Cottage Designs, and Sara Sandström of Winterbird Co). In these cases we work as a manufacturer rather than a publisher. To order Custom Scout Books anyone can head right over to and get started.

Hope that helps… “Collaboration” is one of our favorite words, but it is also one we often struggle to define exactly. Lots of possibilities out there for creative work!


Future Tense Books

Future Tense Scout Books 2014
Scout Books is thrilled to announce the release of our latest collaboration with Future Tense Books. Edited by Kevin Sampsell, 2014’s trio includes Jay Ponteri’s Darkmouth Strikes Again, Chelsea Hodson’s Pity The Animal, and May-Lan Tan’s Girly. 

In celebration of these probing stories and lyrical essays that fit in your back pocket, please join us for a release party with the authors and special guests. There will be readings from Oregon Book Award Winner Jay Ponteri, New York based Chelsea Hodson, and special magical appearance from London based May-Lan Tan. We will also be welcoming bonus guest headliner, Patrick deWitt, (award-winning author of The Sisters Brothers) accompanied by Dragging an Ox Through Water.

Future Tense & Scout Books Release Party
Sunday, July 20th 9:00pm
Valentine’s 232 SW Ankeny St.
21 and over, FREE

Find all three titles online in the Future Tense store, Powell’s Books, or stop by the reading at Valentine’s to pick up your own copies!


Darkmouth Strikes Again by Jay Ponteri

Darkmouth Strikes Again is a lyric essay about metaphors, the self, family, death, language, and art. It speaks to the unspoken, speaks what we think but are too afraid to say aloud. Darkmouth attempts to understand sadness while poking breathing holes in it too. If sadness moves inside of us in dark fluent waves, Darkmouth attempts (& fails beautifully) to ride them, to rise above them, to keep from sinking beneath. It feels and sings like an epic poem. Jay Ponteri is the author of Wedlocked (Hawthorne Books, 2013), winner of the Oregon Book Award for creative nonfiction. He has recently published prose in Ghost ProposalForklift, Ohio, and Tin House. He teaches at Marylhurst University where he directs the undergraduate writing program and Show:Tell, The Workshop for Teen Writers & Artists.

PITY THE ANIMAL By Chelsea Hodson

Pity The Animal by Chelsea Hodson

Pity the Animal, an essay by Chelsea Hodson, explores the concept of human submission and commodification by way of window displays, wild animals, performance art, and sugar daddy dating websites. “How much can a body endure? Almost everything.” Chelsea Hodson is a 2012 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. She is also the author of the chapbook Beach Camp, published by Swill Children in 2010. Her essays have been published in Black Warrior ReviewVol. 1 BrooklynSex Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Watch the trailer here:

GIRLY By May-Lan Tan

Girly by May-Lan Tan

May-Lan Tan’s first published story appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story in 2011, and her long-anticipated debut collection, Things to Make and Break (CB Editions), is poised to become a cult hit. The Guardian described it as “excellent … these strange, flinty, cigarette-stained narratives speed by, offering lots of surface tension and compelling deeper passions.” Her US debut, Girly, presents two brand-new stories of young women plotting their escape from childhood. Both are Hong Kong schoolgirls, one destined to cross the ocean while the other daydreams about the airplanes that fly directly over her home. May-Lan Tan’s stories have appeared also in AretéThe Reader, and Spork. She lives in London.

Thank you to Kevin Sampsell and Future Tense Books.

Artist Profile: Eleanor Davis

2014 is shaping up to be the Year of Eleanor Davis… The Athens, Georgia-based cartoonist and illustrator has been on a roll, with her work showing up in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Lucky Peach, and even on the Google homepage. This month, Fantagraphics Books has released How to Be Happy, a beautiful, career-spanning hardcover that Dan Kois of Slate has called “ an inspired and inspiring collection of short work clearly establishing Davis as a leading cartoonist.”

Scout Books has been delighted to collaborate with Eleanor on our edition of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Stories (which I recently chose as my #1 pick from our Short Stories series), and we are now releasing a pair of beautiful notebook designs from her, Dawn and Dusk. Eleanor was kind enough to chat with me about her artistic process, the metaphoric color of her thumb, and her impressions of the massive San Diego Comic Con, where she was a special guest.



Your first collection of comics, How to Be Happy, was recently released by Fantagraphics Books. It’s a lovely, wide-ranging book, both in terms of the stories selected and the variety of art styles on display. What was the process for selecting the work in the book? Was there a particular feeling you wanted to achieve in the ordering of the selections?  

Thank you! I selected my best work that I felt fit together. All the pieces in the book reflect my own life experience somewhat. They are fictional nonfiction.


You’ve done illustration work for a wide range of major clients, including The New York Times and an animated Google Doodle for the start of spring which must have been seen by many millions of viewers… How do you approach projects like that which will be in front of a mass audience? 

It’s something I’m still learning to do. Initially I think I tried to water down my stuff too much, which was a mistake. Now I try to be as much of my own voice as I can get away with. The art directors tell me when it’s too much. What I’ve found is that if I enjoy myself making a piece, people will respond to it. If I’m bored making a piece folks won’t like looking at it either.


Something that has always impressed me about your illustration work is the sense of inherent narrative, your characters and scenes often seem like silent images from some unknown book of stories. Do you have any “tricks” for injecting that narrative energy into a drawing?

Thank you! Rather than illustrating the piece itself, I try to illustrate the narrative my mind is telling me about the piece.


Oversized, larger-than-life flowers and plants are a recurring motif in your art, including the pair of notebook designs you recently created for us,  Dawn and Dusk. Does your affection for flora extend to the real world as well? Are you a gardener?

Ha ha, no, I’m afraid I don’t garden at all! Several years ago I helped out at a small farm run by some friends of mine. That was when I started drawing a lot of flowers and organic things. But that was also when I learned that my thumb is black with ink, not green, so I stick to drawing.


You seem to be a very prolific sketcher, creating lots of thumbnails and even finished work for your projects. Can you describe the role sketching has in your art practice?

Sketching is my real work, I think. When I don’t sketch for a while my work gets dead. But I often spend long periods without sketching! So then I have to carve some time out, to learn again, and make my work alive again.


You were a guest at the massive San Diego Comic Con last week… What was it like being there? What was the response to your work? And most importantly of all… If you were to cosplay next time, who (or what) would you dress up as?

San Diego was intense! Everyone always says SDCC is a zoo, but I didn’t understand what they meant until I went there. The crowds are insane, a sea of people. The first couple days I really hated it, it was very frightening. But after a while I got acclimated and I felt less panicked.

Everyone I talked to was super nice about my book, although they were all already fans of indy comics. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of crossover between mainstream and indy comics at SDCC, even though we’re all in one gigantic room.


My favorite thing about SDCC was the cosplay! Especially the people in elaborate handcrafted costumes, it was very inspiring. I’m not sure what I would cosplay as. Something huge and monstrous and fun. Something with a lot of teeth.

What’s next for you? Following the release of How to Be Happy is the world clamoring for a full-length graphic novel from you? What would be your dream project?

I’m working on a YA historical murder-mystery with my mom, Ann Davis, called Catta of Samarkand, and an easy reader with my husband Drew Weing for TOON books. I’d like to start making minicomics again. Drew and I have been talking about making a video game. There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do!

➜ Top 10 (Short) Summer Reads


Here is my personal Top 10 of the Scout Books Short Stories series which I edited (I drew one, too), and which are currently on sale: 20% off and buy two, get one free!Character Designs for The Blue Cross by Dustin Harbin

(Character Designs for The Blue Cross by Dustin Harbin)


We’ve got so many new Scout Books pocket notebooks that we don’t even know what to do with them!!

For all the Toronto folks out there, Juxtapose has a great selection of our notebooks and books to choose from!


We’ve got so many new Scout Books pocket notebooks that we don’t even know what to do with them!!

For all the Toronto folks out there, Juxtapose has a great selection of our notebooks and books to choose from!


Notebook Review: Scout Books - Design Keeper

Buy these from:

We just got these little jotbooks in at the art museum for our shop and I had to try them out. Scout Books has a nice variety of jotbook types, including dot-grid and to-do list format, and you can even design your own covers or interiors!

Because I love dot grids, I bought the “Design Keeper” type. When looking at Scout Books little notebooks, there are two categories that intersect: outer cover and inner pages.

  • The outer covers can be DIY, Color Block, Pattern, or Keeper, and these all refer to the design. DIY is blank, Color Block has a swath of color printed on it, Pattern has a colorful pattern, and Keeper has space on the front and back to put your contact information and details about what’s inside.
  • The inner pages aren’t linked to specific covers, though some only come with certain ones (ie: the stripe pattern cover only comes with grid pages, or the grey color block cover only comes with dot grid pages, but the blue color block cover has lined pages). Most cover types have blank, lined, grid, or dot grid inners. You can also get the calendar keeper, review keeper, and the lists which comes in both DIY and keeper versions. The calendar one is kind of cool - the first page is a blank monthly calendar while the rest of the pages are lined, and there are enough pages for an entire month. Each page of the reviews book has a box at the top, then a row of star outlines, and at the bottom is space to write a short review. The list pages have little boes to the left of each line so you can check off as you go.
  • One nifty feature of the pages is that they all have top and bottom margins, and the printing of the dots or lines at the top and bottom are extra dark. I like this for labeling headers and such. The regular grid and calendar also have darker printing in the middle sections. The grid groups the squares into 3x3 larger squares with darker lines, which is pretty cool. I was very tempted to grab the Project Keeper instead of the Design Keeper because of that! (We don’t have the Calendar in stock, but it has a similar pattern of darker lines every 3rd or 4th to divide up the space.)

The jotbooks/pocket notebooks come in packs of 3 for $8 from the website with free shipping, for the most part. They have 32 pages front-and-back, so they’re fairly thin and flexible. But the paper is good quality recycled paper. It’s not very thick, but nonetheless worked really fantastically with my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen using Diamine ink, and even with my dying ultre-fine Sharpie. The Sharpie had minimal bleedthrough compared to what I expected, the fountain pen had almost no showthrough at all, and even the pencil and ballpoint pen wrote really smoothly. Check out the 4th and 5th photos above for writing samples and bleedthrough.

One thing that may cause trouble is that the dots are closely spaced. My handwriting is a smidge too big to fit comfortably on every line, but did well with every other line. The cover opens flat, though it doesn’t like to stay flat, and even folds to the back easily.

Some other details about these books:

  • The size of the pocket book is 3.5x5 inches. There are larger notebooks available, too.
  • Scout Books are made from recycled materials and vegetable inks. The covers are chipboard.
  • The pocket-sized books come in packs of three.
  • I forgot to mention the Music version - one notebook type includes staves for sheet music, with room for 4 songs of 8 pages each.
  • Not only can you design your own covers and inside pages, but the inside pages can be anything you want them to be - even stories or illustrations!
  • Some short stories are already created with illustrations for purchase and can be bought in thematic packs of three.

So basically I guess I’m saying that if you’d like to try a new pocket notebook or would like to design your own, you should definitely check out Scout Books! These guys are based out of Portland, Oregon, and have created some pretty cool notebooks. I’m especially interested in the fact that they work so well with fountain pens, which I didn’t expect at all! I wonder if the paper is recycled bamboo or something? But it’s not as slick as the bamboo paper pads I get from Staples or Office Depot.

We love this review! Thanks so much!


Case Study: Andy Pratt Stationery by scoutbooks on Flickr.

Lovely landscapes.


Case Study: Andy Pratt Stationery by scoutbooks on Flickr.

Lovely landscapes.

➜ ICON8 Insights (pt. 2)



I wanted to write a follow-up to my first ICON8 post—so here goes!

Delight, enthusiasm, surprise.

These were the lingering effects that really stuck with me post-ICON. From the changing narrative displays on the stage, to the little pauses and page turns for comedic effect in presentation,…

More insights from Meg Hunt…