The tradition of sketchbook trading

One thing that I got to experience for the first time at MFF was the practice of sketchbook trading. Sketchbook swapping is a custom that I was unfamiliar with until recently. From what I have been told about it, it has been a part of the furry fandom from its early days.

In my understanding, in the very early days of the fandom (and the internet), when furs were first starting to meet up for conventions and meets, fursuits were much more rare and less developed than they were today. Many of the practices that are common at conventions now; such as fursuiting, commissions, and badges; had not yet been fully established. Because of this, when people wanted to show each other their furry characters, they had to bring their sketchbooks with their own drawings of their characters in them.

When gathered together, artists would offer to draw each other’s characters or to do other drawings for each other, and would trade sketchbooks to do so. This practice became common and popular enough that an etiquette was even built around it. Usually art would be given as a trade, either for money, or for artwork. As time went on, sketchbook swapping began to fall out of practice, as the fandom grew and developed in other ways.

However, it does continue at conventions even today, and may even be making a resurgence. At MFF, I went to a room where a timeslot had been devoted to a sketchbook swap. Everyone participating set their sketchbooks down at the front of the room, then grabbed someone else’s sketchbook to draw in. When their drawing was complete, they dropped off the sketchbook and then grabbed another to draw in, continuing to swap books as long as they wanted to, until they got their own books back.

I was fortunate to get some wonderful drawings in exchange for my scribbles, and got to look at the work of some incredibly talented artists. I would say that it was one of the highlights of the convention for me, and I am looking forward to getting a chance to do something similar again in the future.


TRACE is a random American wolfdog who happened upon the SA fandom and has stuck around since. He enjoys making scribbles and throwing words together to see what sticks.