Some of the books Joey has used over the years.
The seed for Baron Fig was planted some twenty years ago, when I was a kid exploring my grandparents' basement.
My grandmother was a voracious reader (a habit I’m glad she instilled in me) and could always be found with a book in hand or purse. Although she rarely went back to reread them, she couldn’t find it in herself to get rid of a book after she was done. They all ended up in stacks scattered around the house, small towers that acted as temporary rest stops on their eventual migration to end destinations inside cardboard boxes in the basement.
In one of these boxes I found a book that changed my life. It was a collection of Da Vinci’s notebooks. It contained all the beautiful and insightful images and ideas that poured from his mind. There were diagrams of contraptions, renderings of anatomy, majestic portraits, notes—all the things he found fascinating. When I discovered it, I spent the entire day sitting on a box of books in a crowded corner of the basement going through the whole thing. By the time I was finished I had been changed.
Never before had I been exposed to the possibilities of boundless imagination. As a kid I had heard the name Leonardo da Vinci, but I didn’t know much more about him other than his painting, the Mona Lisa. Finally, I understood why he was so revered—he was limited only by his imagination and his will, and he had seemingly endless reserves of both.
From that day forward I carried around a notebook wherever I went. I made it my personal goal to try to do things that others hadn’t. As a young kid this was limited to small things, but I still took great joy in pushing limits (especially every Friday during art class). As I grew older I held onto this goal.
Eventually my passion for imagination led me down the path of graphic design. My notebooks turned into sketchbooks as I took my hobby of drawing and learned how to develop it into a profession. Under the watchful eye of fantastic teachers I started to better understand the things I was seeing—and I began to fill up sketchbooks faster than I had ever done before.
Over the years—and dozens of sketchbooks later—I had amassed stacks of sketchbooks akin to my grandmother’s stacks of novels. In late 2012 I stepped back to look at them and noticed something peculiar: they were nearly all different.At first I didn’t have an answer, but as I thought about it more the reason surfaced. Unbeknownst to me, I had been searching for a sketchbook I could truly love. Thinking back, I realized each time I was nearing the end of my current book I had gone out or researched a new book, always trying to find something better.
I turned my gaze outward and noticed that my comrades in the arts were having the same issue. I relayed this problem to my close friends (co-founders Adam Kornfield and Scott Robertson) and, after a deeply passionate discussion, we decided to make the sketchbook I had been looking for all these years. We set out to create a book that is designed by those who use them.
I started with my own experience, then we opened dialogues with hundreds of creators all around the world and asked them one simple question: What do you like in a sketchbook or notebook? The response was tremendous. It turns out creators all over the world have similar stacks just like mine, piles of all different types of books in search of something excellent.
Baron Fig has been a project unknowingly developed over two decades. Our small team has been designing this book for several months. Now we’re close to getting it in your hands—and I absolutely cannot wait.
—Joey Cofone, Co-Founder