The Transformative Power of Sketching

A Philosophy and Methodology for Creatives of all Kinds

Ricardo Hernández Pérez
6 min readDec 28, 2022


Sketching the archeological sites of the Cappadocia region in Turkey.

Have you ever been inspired by an idea that won’t leave you alone? For me, these moments often come in the stillness of the night, igniting my creativity, and words alone are not enough to capture the visions in my mind. That’s when I turn to the transformative power of sketching.

Sketching is more than just a way to bring ideas to life — it’s a tool for creativity and imagination, a way to communicate thoughts and unleash them on the page. It’s the voice of your imagination flowing from your mind to your hand to the pencil, expressing itself through charcoal on paper. Its beauty and effectiveness know no bounds, transcending disciplines and inspiring artists, writers, and creatives alike.

In this article and my latest YouTube video, I pay tribute to the art of sketching and explore its potential to unleash creativity and bring our ideas to fruition. Whether you’re an artist, a writer, or simply a creative soul, sketching is a powerful tool that can help render your dreams and bring your vision to life.

Join me as I explore this topic in video format while sketching through my ideas.

The Philosophy of Sketching

I’ve been drawn to ruins and architecture carved out of natural landscapes recently, particularly the archeological sites of Cappadocia in Turkey. The beauty and craftsmanship of these carved cities in volcanic rock formations captivate me, and I’ve been using sketching to explore the source of this fascination.

As I rearranged my desk, I started thinking about the connection between our minds and bodies when we translate ideas into a sketch and how it feels like we become one with the pencil. Ideas flow naturally from our minds to the paper in a beautiful translation from imagination to reality. This process, called embodiment, suggests that our bodies and tools are connected to our minds and how we experience the world. The mind is created through the relationship between the body, environment, and tools we use, rather than the mind being separate from the body and surroundings.

Sketching is a form of embodiment because it combines our bodies and drawing tools into a single system. By using our bodies and tools to visualize our thoughts and ideas through sketching, we can think more creatively and critically and express and communicate them to others. Sketching is a form of embodied cognition where the body and tool play a crucial role in the cognitive process of creating and communicating ideas.

The philosophy of sketching also delves into the relationship between the sketch and the finished artwork. Some view sketches as preliminary or rough versions of finished art, while others see them as artworks in their own right with unique aesthetic qualities and value. Sketching can also serve as a way for artists to think more creatively and critically, explore and test out different ideas and possibilities, and better communicate and express their ideas to others.

Overall, the philosophy of sketching offers insights into the nature and value of art, the role of embodiment in the creative process, and the relationship between the sketch and the finished artwork. But for me, sketching is more than just a tool for exploring these philosophical themes. It’s also a way to answer inspiration’s call and bring my ideas to life.

The Creative Potential of Sketching

The creative potential of sketching is vast and boundless, making it a powerful tool for creativity and imagination. Whether using traditional or digital media, sketching allows for the exploration and development of unconventional ideas through the iterative process of “sketching through,” which helps refine and improve ideas by quickly sketching out multiple versions or trying out different configurations.

But sketching is more than just a way to express ourselves; it also sharpens critical thinking skills and helps us better understand and communicate our ideas. This is why sketching is an excellent tool for research and speculation, allowing us to visualize and unravel complex systems and processes. Many artists and designers use sketching to explore contemporary issues like climate change, urbanization, and technological advancement through a practice called Speculative Design. By sketching out designs that address these issues, creatives can identify opportunities for innovation and contribute to meaningful conversations.

Sketching also allows us to slow down and engage with the world around us, providing a deeper understanding of it and the ability to see it from new perspectives. It’s a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery, helping us better comprehend how our thoughts and ideas fit together and how to develop them further. It’s a way to uncover and share our creative potential with the world as it helps us translate our ideas into a tangible shareable artifact.

Sketching as a tool to Translate Inspiration

In this video, I talk about the importance of answering inspiration’s call when it arrives.

I’ve spoken before about how important it is to be ready to answer inspiration’s call when it arrives and the beautiful process of transcribing that happens when we do. Depending on your chosen medium, that process of transcribing and translating inspiration into reality will look different. Still sketching can be one of the many tools in your arsenal to bring your ideas to life, understand them, and manifest them in a way that you can then share as artifacts of your imagination with others. There is a beautiful excerpt from the book “Big Magic”, where Gilbert retells a story from poet Ruth Stone about her encounters with inspiration when an idea for a poem came to her and how she translated it into writing that I want to share with you and it went like this:

“[Ruth] told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, “run like hell.” And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she’d be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it “for another poet.” And then there were these times — this is the piece I never forgot — she said that there were moments where she would almost miss it, right? So, she’s running to the house and she’s looking for the paper and the poem passes through her, and she grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her, and then she said, it was like she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail, and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. And in these instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact but backwards, from the last word to the first.”

I don’t think we can find a better story that summarizes all the ideas explored in this article and my related YouTube video. I love this story so much, and it has stuck with me since I read it in the book. I hope it inspires you to catch your ideas through sketching or whatever medium works best for you. And, just like the many poems that Ruth missed, many other ideas will come if you don’t get to capture yours in time. But, if you want to be ready, even in the middle of the night, keep a sketchbook on your nightstand so you can catch that pesky idea by its tail whenever it decides to arrive.

✨ If you want to learn more about my thoughts on sketching and my overall process, check out this video on my YouTube channel.

✨ I also have an article and video discussing the importance of framing your art and answering inspiration’s call when it arrives.

Also, you can find me here:

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Ricardo Hernández Pérez

Interaction Designer at Google, but views are my own. Check out my YouTube channel: