Review: Cottonwood Arts Dotmatrix

Cottonwood Arts is an art sketchbook company, with a notebook offering that is equally note friendly as it is sketch, with its “dot matrix” (dot grid). Design wise, this one is heavily inspired by Moleskine, and could be an alternative, if it suits you. The main difference in the design is the binding: It has an exposed canvas spine (picture below) with two boards glued on as the cover. This binding allows for the notebook to lay completely flat. The cover has a pleasing matte feel.


The 100gsm paper is cream colored, smooth to the touch, and takes ink very well. The packaging advertises it as being suitable for mixed-media. It’s a nice weighted paper, without any teeth or grain that can be typical of art sketchbooks being used as notebooks.


The page layout is the highly coveted dot grid, or dot matrix as Cottonwood Arts calls it.

I love the dots, but once I wrote on the page and panned out, I found the dots to be noisy with the ink. Visually, my writing doesn’t stand out against the dot grid as much as I’d like. It’s slightly difficult to ignore the dot grid and focus my eyes on the writing. I’ve used dot grids before, and that hasn’t been my experience. I’d much prefer it if the dots were smaller/fainter. But I’m still going to fill it on up! Maybe I find them to be overbearing because I’m not the intended audience — the image on the cover slip is of typography sketches.

The notebook comes with a pen loop (only large enough to fit a basic bic pen) and a gusseted folder in the back, very similar to a Moleskine.


  • $12.95
  • 160 pages
  • Dot grid
  • Dot grid spacing: 6mm
  • 100gsm
  • A5 (8″ x 5.25″)

Where to buy:

  • Local art supply store (that’s where I found mine)
  • Cottonwood Arts (do note that under product specifications, in error it says 30 pages)
  • Amazon

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