Why I Made a Notebook with an Asian Woman On the Cover

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It's an Honor to be Asian notebook

Like most writers, I hoard a stash of blank notebooks. I also love planner supplies. I’ve had a tough time finding planner covers and dashboards with East Asian women on the cover.

Not just any covers, but ones where Asian women weren’t exoticized. I wanted to see myself represented. Me doing everyday things. Not wearing “Asian” clothes. A search on Etsy also revealed ambiguously ethnic dashboards and planners. Where you didn’t see the woman’s face, but a medium tan skin color that could me one of several ethnicities.

Not only does representation matter, but how we’re represented matters. Many shops had the same female drawing but with different skin tones. Yes, my skin tone is different from other races, but it’s not the only thing. There’s skin color, eye shape, and face structure. 

After complaining to a few friends, I had to do something about it. I purchased some graphics and designed my own notebook with a sassy East Asian woman on the cover. The “It’s an honor to be Asian” quote is from the badass Sandra Oh.

Isn’t it adorable? I’m very pleased with how the graphic came out. It’s An Honor to Be Asian notebook is available on Amazon so you can get one, too! My copies arrived and I wanted to share a review of Amazon’s print on demand notebooks.

Inside the notebook

Inside front page of notebook

The notebook is a soft, flexible cover. It’s small enough to toss inside a tote bag or medium/large purse.  On the first page is a place to add personalization with lots of room to add stickers, drawings, etc. 

It has 100 pages, so plenty of room to take notes without being too thick. It doesn’t open flat, but it’s not so thick that it becomes a deterrence. 

Dot grid pages

Since I do bullet journaling, I made the interior pages dot grid. I prefer dot grid over the graph pages because the dots aren’t as distracting as lines. 

So far so good, but how do pens write on the pages? That’s the most important thing for us writers.

Pen Testing

I grabbed my most used pens and a few I use occasionally for a pen test. I used to test on the first page, but I’ve switched to using the last page after seeing a friend do it. That way it’s not sticking out like a sore thumb on the first page.

Pen testing notebook

As you can see, most of the pens fared pretty well on the paper. I didn’t expected my Kakuno fountain pen to do well and it didn’t. My Kakuno didn’t glide over the rough paper well, but it looks good. Hardly any feathering.

My favorite pens on this paper are the Uniball Jetstream 4-in-1, Tul Gel Pen, and the Tombow Mono Drawing Pen. I was worried the Tombow would be too wet for this paper, but it writes beautifully. I received it as gift and my have to stock up on them.

Pen test ghosting

I’m happy to see there’s hardly any ghosting with this paper. You can barely see the ink, mostly indentations from the ballpoint and gel pens.

It feels so good to hold something I’ve designed in my hands. Not only that, I smile every time I look at this cover. Representation really matters.  It’s An Honor to Be Asian notebook is one I’ll be excited to use. 

Who do you know that would love this notebook? Please share it with them! If it does well, I’ll design some more. Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see on the cover.


  1. Renee Ross February 20, 2019
  2. Renee Ross February 21, 2019
    • Thien-Kim Lam March 6, 2019