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Portrait of Sharon Rothman

Assistant Professor

Sharon Rothman

  • School of Art and Design
  • Fashion Design Department

The Fashion Designer's Sketchbook

The Fashion Designer's Sketchbook is a step-by-step guide to making and using sketchbooks as an experimental design lab to visually explain your design ideas. Three distinct types of sketchbook, each representing a different phase in the design process, evolve from initial inspiration journal, to design development sketchbook, to the job-search presentation sketchbook as portfolio companion. The power of a sketchbook lies in visual storytelling. In these pages, professional designers and student contributors tell the visual story of the creative process with their unique sketchbook examples, and concept-to-design experimentations, throughout a range of aesthetic levels and target markets. Individual editing scenarios, sketching styles, and graphic strategies show how to project aesthetics into a cohesive sketchbook presentation.

Cover of The Fashion Designer's Sketchbook

How did you come up with the idea?
Teaching Portfolio over the years, I began to see much more creative work in the design journal than in final presentation, and began to stress the sketchbook design process as the focus for design thinking and spontaneity in sketching ideas. When students asked me to recommend helpful books, I could find none that explained the sketchbook step by step as a visual design story, how it changes with each market, and its unique value to the fashion designer’s process.

What was your research process like?
Choosing images to illustrate the design process was great fun, and a joy for me to showcase my students’ work. One of the most valuable steps I took was to read as many fashion design texts as I could, which made it clear to me what I did and didn’t want my book to be.

What did you learn?
I learned so much—I grew more flexible in my ideas about what makes good design, what a successful portfolio should contain, and surprisingly, the true impact a creative design sketchbook has on the job interview.

  • Professor at FIT for 25+ years
  • Teaches fashion art courses including portfolio
  • Co-founded and chaired the Fashion Roundtable