Stillman & Birn is a relatively new company that has burst onto the art journaling scene with some incredibly high quality sketchbooks, and bloggers are starting to rave about them for sketching, mixed media, and ink washing. I first found out about them from Jamie Grossman’s blog with her glowing reviews, and after checking them out for myself, I knew these things were legit.

The brand is broken out into 5 series, Alpha (3:48), Beta (5:52), Gamma (7:15), Delta (8:33), and Epsilon (9:50) that are all blank paper. For easier reference in the video, just jump to the time marker next to the series name.

Here’s a chart to explain what they’re all about:

Overview of the Stillman and Birn series lineup

What I aim to do here is to explain the different series and how they all differ. It may seem complicated, but it’s really not. There are a couple of different paper grades, two different bindings, and two paper colors. All of these series are just a combination of these factors. I’ll go through each series and explain what’s up.

Alpha Series

Alpha Series Key Points:

  • 100lb/150gsm natural white paper
  • Vellum surface (smooth, but with some resistance)
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)
  • Exact same as Gamma series (except Gamma has ivory paper)
Beta Series Key Points:
  • 180lb/270gsm natural white paper
  • Rough surface (that’s what they call it, but it’s not really that rough)
  • Wirebound only, 25 sheets
  • Exact same as Delta series (only Delta has ivory paper)
Gamma Series Key Points:
  • 100lb/150gsm ivory paper
  • Vellum surface (smooth, but with some resistance)
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)
  • Exact same as Alpha series (except Alpha has white paper)
Delta Series Key Points:
  • 180lb/270gsm ivory paper
  • Rough surface (that’s what they call it, but it’s not really that rough)
  • Wirebound only, 25 sheets
  • Exact same as Beta series (only Beta has white paper)
Epsilon Series Key Points:
  • 100lb/150gsm natural white paper
  • Plate surface, smoothest paper in the Stillman & Birn line
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)

The Paper

Stillman & Birn’s focus is on the paper, point blank. They recognize that art journaling is now becoming its own art form, and the sketchbook is no longer just a transitional tool from the field to the art studio, it’s becoming its own fine art. So they wanted to create the highest quality art journal possible, that can withstand the most demanding of art mediums, such as ink, acrylics, chalk, and watercolor.
All of the paper washes exceptionally, with no bleeding or feathering on any of the inks I tried.

 

I don’t know much about ink washing, but it sure is fun to try!
The Beta and Delta paper especially can withstand just about anything, watercolor or straight ink dumped on the page. That’s straight Noodler’s Apache Sunset, dumped on the paper and smeared with a q-tip, and you can’t even see it on the other side!

 

Minimal show-through on the Alpha, Gamma, and Epsilon, none at all on the Beta and Delta.
I’m no artist, and I am definitely biased because I sell them, but even still I can safely say the paper in these sketchbooks is very tough to beat. Drew and I had fun just messing around with a lot of different pens and inks on all the Stillman & Birn paper, and I can safely say that it’ll all take just about anything you can put down.We’re starting out with a limited offering of Stillman & Birn at GouletPens.com at first, and we’ll expand as there is demand for it. These sketchbooks are a bit outside of the type of notebooks we typically carry, but I believe in supporting a good product and I think it’s something that fountain pen users will enjoy. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!