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Marshall Alexander - Paper Engineer


14 Oct 2009


My name is Jon Hicks, and I’m a stationery fetishist. I’m sure many of you are too. I love the design, feel, and most of all, smell of it. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of walking into WHSmiths and smelling the pencils and paper, looking at the pads and notebooks (and being allowed to buy a new one!). Even in an age when my work is solely screen-based, I still lust after the senses-satisfying joy of new stationery.

Just recently, I’ve started using graph paper pads again, particularly for sketching interface wireframes. I’ve tried plain paper, but I’m one of those people that can’t draw a freehand straight line to save their life. Then the wonkiness of the line just becomes a distraction.

I’d been using a Paperchase notebook, which had a very faint dotted line squared paper, but it was only a few sheets amongst a variety of other types. It was ideal, but Paperchase don’t make a pad or notebook of just this type anymore, so after fruitless local searching and googling, I asked for Twitter feedback on a suitable alternative. The response was fantastic, and here are the three best options.

The Original Designers Workbook (Available from the Design Museum Shop, although mostly out of stock at the moment) fits the criteria, as subtle graph paper pad:


Here’s a sample of it’s grid:

The most-suggested option by far was the Behance dot grid book (available in the UK from Strawberry and Cream):

Behance grid book close up

Best of all though looks like the Swedish Whitelines series, as suggested by David Hughes (available from Foyles in London, Amazon and Papernation in the UK).


Rather than use the traditional lined approach, it uses the negative space, creating a less destructive white lined grid:


I should also mention the lovely Konigi Wireframe Pad, which also looked ideal, but sadly is US delivery only. Yes, I can always get someone in the US to send it on for me, but on principle I prefer not to. They offer a great range of free PDF templates that you print off, but that’s not a economical solution in the long term. Fine for the odd sheet here and there. Also, Inkjet prints just don’t have that lustfulness about them in the way new stationery does.

So, I’ve ordered both the Behance Dot book and a Whitelines notebook to try them both out!

Instagram Hickstagram

  • 16 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 16 “The Pilot” - a response to @hicksmade’s barber shop poster. Experimenting with a different style on this one #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #pilot

  • 15 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 15. @hicksmade’s staircase led me to this. There must be a hairdressers somewhere called this? #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #hairwaytosteven

  • 14 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 14 - from @hicksmade’s theme of escape, and tonight’s Dr Who, with a return to classic theme: running!. #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #drwho #pictogram #signage

  • 14 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 13 is more of a doodle as time was very short! There was a bird in @hicksmade’s day 13 so I ran with that. . #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober

  • 12 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 12. Thinking about @hicksmade’s lumos led me to this “please don’t turn me off…”. #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #sadlightswitch

  • 11 Oct 2018

    Inktober Day 11. The shape of @hicksmade’s spoons made me think of the Mandrake - a root that looks like a tiny human. There are lots of legends around it, but this one is based on the Harry Potter interpretation. . #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #mandrake #harrypotter

  • 10 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 10. @hicksmade led with a lovely bee, which made me think of the Jesus and Mary Chain song “Just like honey”. Fancied trying something different so went for a 60s typographical thingy . #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #honey

  • 10 Oct 2018

    Beautiful morning at North Leigh Common!

  • 09 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 9, as the crow flies. An obvious link from @hicksmade’s scarecrow, but I’m much happier with this one compared to yesterday’s. #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober #crow

  • 09 Oct 2018

    Inktober day 8 and boy am I cross with how this one turned out. It’s utter pants. Supposed to be Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannsen in Lost in Translation, not that you could tell from this. Bill looks like a zombie, and goodness knows what that is on the right. It put me in such a bad mood last night, but I need to let it go and move on. (I even cheated a bit and touched up some bits in Photoshop!). The one bit I’m happy with is his neck, and that’s it. Rant over #inktober #inktober2018 #leighandjondoinktober

Contact us

Call Jon on +44 (0)7917 391536, email or tweet @hicksdesign.

Alternatively, pop in for tea and cake at the studio…

Wenrisc House
Meadow Court
Witney, OX28 6ER
United Kingdom