Sunday, November 20, 2011

Notebook Review: Quo Vadis Keith Haring Artist Series

I have a lot of notebooks. I actually have an insane number of them inside my 'notebook cabinet'. While some are from my impulse buys, most of them came from my silent sponsors, as samples for review. I'm fascinated by colorful things, but I have always been fond of plain-covered notebooks. I like using any black-covered ones for journal writing and note taking. I also use a small black notebook for the 'ink diary' that I keep (more on that on the next notebook review). 

When I received the Keith Haring Quo Vadis Habana notebooks that Karen Doherty (Exaclair's USA VP for   Marketing) sent to me a few months ago, it wasn't exactly love at first sight. Late last month, while I was sick and recovering at home, I saw the notebooks again and decided to try them out. That time, though, it was definitely love at first write.

Keith Haring Habana notebooks are the most recent addition to the Quo Vadis limited edition Artist Series that include the art of Pablo Picasso and Henry Matisse. Picasso's "Portrait of Dora Maar" and Matisse's "Icarus" and "The Creole Dancer" are the selected cover designs of their respective series.

Keith Haring's "Earth Day" and "Baby" on small Quo Vadis Habana notebooks.

These Keith Haring Habana notebooks, as with the other notebooks in the Quo Vadis' Artist Series, are made in France, with leather-like cover material which I love because they are soft, not very smooth, and not shiny either. This leather-like material is wrapped on what I assume is thick board, making the cover solid. The firm, solid covers of Quo Vadis Habana notebooks are made to provide writing support. Photo below shows the notebooks' back covers, printed with Keith Haring icons in the middle, while the Quo Vadis logo is etched in the bottom.

Quo Vadis made Keith Haring Habana notebooks in four designs and two sizes. The four designs are: 'Baby', 'Heart', 'Earth Day', and 'La Ronde'. They are available as either small (4" x 6") or large (6¼" x 9½") notebooks. Both Haring Habanas used in this review are small notebooks.

"Earth Day" is only available in small (4" x 6") size.

"Heart", though, comes in small (4" x 6") and large (6¼" x 9½") sizes.

The Keith Haring Habana notebooks have the same features as their regular counterparts: they have the elegant page ribbons/markers and elastic closures in matching colors. Soon I'll be tying the end of the page ribbons into knots to prevent ugly fraying.

Keith Haring's signature is printed in white on the notebooks' front covers. How elegant.

The small Haring Habana notebooks have 96 sheets of very smoooooth satin ivory paper. The pages have 5.5mm ruling, a welcome change from the wide 8mm ruling previously used on both large and small Habana notebooks. The pages have round corners too, which is great. I prefer notebooks with round corners because sharp page corners can sometimes cut into my fingers and palms when I'm writing. Round corners also look more elegant and stylish.

Round page corners of the Haring Habana notebooks.

Another wonderful feature of Quo Vadis Habana notebooks, including the Haring Habanas, is their sewn binding. This ensures more page security and flexibility, and also (again) adds to the notebooks' elegance. Sewn binding is so much better than most punch and bind methods because the pages are more secure and also tidy.

Sewn pages of the small Haring Habana notebooks.

These special Habana notebooks have lovely spines printed with Keith Haring's signature and icon. Definitely a welcome change from the old, plain spines of my previous notebooks.

The Haring Habana notebooks have printed spines.

The Habana's "small" is not the same in size as the "pocket" of other notebook brands, which is always misunderstood by many users who think that the two sizes are interchangeable. "Small" and "pocket" sizes are not the same. Several brands share the same "pocket" size, such as Moleskine and Rhodia, and Scribe here in the Philippines, while Quo Vadis uses the "small" size alone.

Size comparison: Two pocket notebooks on top, Moleskine and Rhodia. 
The two notebooks below are regular Rhodia and Keith Haring Habana.

I mentioned earlier that the Haring Habanas have smooth satin ivory paper. It is really very, very smoooooth but I did not have any difficulty writing on it. In fact, the smoothness made writing very easy and comfortable, compared to other overly smooth paper types that make writing uncomfortable. I also noticed that while the ruling in the old Habana notebook pages went all the way to the binding, it has a certain margin in the new notebooks.

If paper can make people happy, the Haring Habanas' paper will. 
I know because the smooth satin ivory paper made me happy.

Unlike the previous Habana notebooks with continuous lines, the Haring Habanas have dotted lines. But that's fine. The dotted lines didn't get in the way of my writing, or with the readability of what I've written. I actually think this is cool.

Haring Habana page up close. See the dotted lines?

Below is a page devoted to pen and ink tests, and I included gelpens, felt markers, and a permanent marker in the list to fully test the paper. All the fountain pen inks I tested on the Haring Habana fared very well. I did not see any serious feathering or bleed, even with the notorious bleeder, Noodler's Midnight Blue. I also used a couple of pens with broad Esterbrook nibs such as the Transitional J with Private Reserve Black Magic Blue and J pen with J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage. This is good news, and it made me very happy.

The "non-fountain pen" pens I used in the pen and ink test include Pilot G2s, Stabilo felt markers, Zebra Sarasas, and a Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Marker. All the other pens wrote well without feathering or bleed, except for the Sharpie which feathered and bled like an open faucet. But that's just okay. Sharpies bleed bad on most papers.

Inks on the Haring Habana up close: Waterman South Sea Blue, Pelikan Blue Black, 
Private Reserve Black Magic Blue, and Pelikan Edelstein Jade.

The "non-fountain pen" pens: Pilot G2, Stabilo, Zebra Sarasa, 
and Sharpie Ultra Fine Permanent Marker.

Shown here below is the back of the pen and ink test page. It's almost clean, without any ink bleed, except for the one on the bottom part of the page. which is the Sharpie pen.

Sharpie pen bleeds at the bottom of the page.

Overall, I am a very happy recipient of these notebooks and I am beginning to think of how to use them soon. A small journal? A notebook for my daily notes? Who knows? Being the fanatic that I am, I'm sure I'll find a way to use them sooner than I thought I would. Now you know where to get yours, right? All information about these lovely Keith Haring Habana notebooks are posted Quo Vadis' site here:, and also at the Quo Vadis blog here:

The Quo Vadis Keith Haring Habana notebooks used in this review are from Exaclair, Inc. through Karen DohertyThe pens and inks used in this review all belong to my personal collection.


  1. This was a great review! Very informative. Just one question... Is the paper white or off-white? I'm not really a fan of the off-white and cream paper notebooks.

  2. Pretty cool notebooks. I love Keith Haring!

  3. @Bridgett: The paper in the KH Habanas is cream. I didn't like cream paper too, but it grew on me. :) Thank you for reading my review!

    @Be Pop Artist: Thank you for dropping by here.:)

  4. Clem, great review! Re bookmarks, you can just put a little Elmer's Glue on the ends and trim them with scissors. They will no longer unfray.

  5. Thank you Mona! And thank you for the Elmer's glue tip. Will try it on my notebooks' page ribbons.

  6. That's a great review, I've only got the basic 15month planner from B&N store. Its paper is slightly thinner in comparison, Id like to try the new Habana's someday.

  7. Anonymous6:22 AM

    Very good, thorough review.

  8. @The Original Steven H!: Try them, they're really excellent notebooks!

    @jsButterfly: Thank you!