'Drawing? Ain't nobody has time for that. I can't draw! I see white paper in front of me and I' scared where to even start!'
Are you one of the people saying just that?
Don't worry, most of us (adults :) would say that as the facts are simple: if you're not naturally interested in drawing or you don't have kids to draw with....you don't draw. You probably drew here and there or actually loads as a kid wether at school, at home or with friends but then something happened. We all grew up. We became adults. And in adult life especially the fast paced, multitasking, deprived of sleep one most of us lead now, there's no space for drawing.
THE OFFLINE DAYS
I feel sometimes bad when you pick up a book and feel a bit nostalgic, as in the past, before all the phones appeared and sucked us into a screen, reading a book would be something magical for me. If I was reading about dragons, warriors and magical land full of trees mountains and lakes, my room would actually become that. I would be surrounded by these creatures and fairytale land until after few hours I had to stop and either go and pee or mum was calling as lunch was ready (or as we call it - obiad). Now if I want to read a book - I almost feel guilty sometimes that there's always emails I could have sent, organising to do or work to be done. My brain is constantly aware, 'on' and easily distracted. Wether by phone (at least turned off any buzzing, helps), things to do, and a general itchy feeling of 'I could be doing something else'. Almost as if the act of reading is a luxury I am granting myself for that minute in time. I also noticed I start reading few books and never really properly get to the end. Again, distraction. Is it only me or you ever get that?
Same with drawing. I used to draw very much for myself - that's where naturally subconsciously my mind was stimulated, in a creative 'creating' space, my brain was free to imagine anything possible and put it onto a piece of paper and I was happy creating one piece for hours. That has changed. No need to feel sorry for me, I still draw just not as I used to as mostly now I draw, design and think for our clients. And this always brings joy and fires up my brain, as it's always a new challenge to handle, especially when we produce in real time visual metaphors from what's being said. I still miss sometimes the raw, unplanned and exciting act of taking a piece of paper or a tablet and start drawing without a finished exact plan of what I want to achieve. Whenever I get a chance to create something for myself, from my own will, it brings a different type of joy that fuels a different almost part of the brain.
Ok I went here too detailed... What I'm trying to express here is we all can draw. We just don't do it enough and as we used to in the past. I can't run. I actually don't like running but I'm always impressed with anyone taking that challenge on and you can see them getting better and smoother and more in the flow every time they run. Why?
We can call it a cliche but practice makes perfect. So naturally in the first week of running I will be useless, probably even in the first month as brain doesn't help and I would probably think very low of myself before I believed I am actually getting better. But talk to me after 2 months maybe and I will be properly starting to feel it, be better at it and maybe actually enjoy it! Same with drawing. I hear all these people complaining about not being able to draw, being almost nostalgic about how they used to do it in the past, but not anymore and how they fear the blank page.
DON'T FEAR THE BLANK PAGE.
I know it can be weird, I know we all don't have time and there's millions of things to do but how about you start practicing it just like you find time for yoga, making tea, writing emails quicker and quicker, Netflix and more. Practice. Get a nice looking notebook that will already keep you excited for just owning it (I'm one of those people;) to actually opening that page and deciding today you will start with all sorts of shapes. Maybe a circle, maybe a triangle. Ok...you actually got it, it wasn't so scary. So how about you make a cat out of that circle and anything else you can think of. Not sure what to draw? Nothing's coming to your mind? Look around you and observe. Observe the shapes, how things are built and copy. As I kid I drew loads by copying my ultimate gurus like Disney, Looney Tunes or Japanese manga. It thought me loads as I got used to drawing specific shapes, angles and creating a certain mood. Do it randomly on your commute to work, at home during your tea break or at work, sneak in a cheeky doodle whilst you 'listen carefully' to the strategy for the next year. Just do it. Skipped a day? That's ok but at least try. You will see that after a week maybe nothing changes, but try it for a month and you will realise at least the fear is gone. That's what practice does. It creates a habit in your brain and makes it more natural and normal to repeat it. It's no longer novelty. It's like with dating. At the beginning we're all (if you're not, kudos to you) awkward, weird, sweating, slightly a mish mash of all sorts of people in hopes to get liked and attractive to the other person. After a while that goes off and you realise you can be more and more yourself, it's more comfortable, and that's when the fun begins.
BEHAVIOUR CHANGE IS REAL
I say all that not because I feel like preaching today, but because I observe it everyday in all sorts of ways. What? Change in behaviour when I work with you, run Doodleledo with you or have a chilled out time with you. By you I mean all you lovely people that I encountered wether through my work or in personal life. I'll give you tangible examples and hopefully they will get you thinking about drawing more again.
1. WORK - anytime I would be asked to consult on a creative way to pitch a client, think of visualising messages better or run a session where by the end of it people need to agree on a common strategy and come out with a visual plan - I know what I'll start with. Drawing. Will it make people uncomfortable? Yes. Will it make them judge themselves from the start and awkwardly laugh? Yes. Will it make them go and think: 'I don't have time for this b***it, I have emails to send and the 'real' work to do'? Yes. Why I still do it? Because after all these inhibitions and thoughts happen I know what happens then. They actually draw. And what you notice is that suddenly their focus does shift to what they actually are asked to do and I no longer hear the self doubting comments. There may be a laugh here and there but that's normal. We naturally seek approval in other people, so especially when I work with teams, that happens. They still do it. And suddenly what you find is from a group of senior leaders, who haven't been drawing in years, never done it as part of their work, and some of them don't even like each other (as I'm often told to first...resolve before I facilitate a workshop), I see slowly growing connection between those people on a human level first. As what I see is comments like: 'oh, I didn't know you have 2 kids Rob?' - 'Yes....they're 3 and 5'. / 'Oh, I didn't know you always wanted to go to Peru, we did that last year wow!' .... and it goes on and on. We put these visuals on the wall and people start connecting on a personal other level. You can train communication, do all sorts of team building exercises but sometimes what I see, the simplest things connect people. And it can be as simple as drawing which used to be a natural thing for all of us when we were young and it's the most basic, primal and general way of communicating since the beginning of humanity. We used to draw signs and doodles in caves, to communicate. Wether we think it's silly or it's not something we should do at work - drawing does help us communicate on a much deeper level and I promise you. You will remember that Anna always wanted to go to Peru after she drew it vs when she said it once or you read it about her. Pictures, especially ones that touch us on a personal level, stay with us for much longer and become almost visual tattoos in our brains. When you connect emotions with visual communication - you get a perfect result : you remember, retain and recall that information 600,000 times better than from just a said or read information. It's not me, it's science. How many times I sat in a board room full of people having all sorts of ideas about the strategy going forward but the moment I started drawing on a wall and asking them if that is what they mean, you get everyone's eyes on that wall. Our brains need that visual stimulation to almost latch on to an idea and make it more real. When we see things our brains turn it into a more realistic idea that can become a fact. Then I ask everyone to join in and voila - we have an idea of where we want to go. I'll give you one more example. One of our clients - hasn't been paid for too long, no one responds on the other side. We drew a snail coming in with invoice to their desk, sent an email just with that visual....the response was next day with the biggest apologies and admiration for how we've handled the situation. So win win: everyone's happy and they won't forget the picture you sent, trust me.
2. DOODLELEDO - as part of the work we do through our creative agency, Doodleledo became our first creative venture. Something to test and see if anyone's interested. It was designed for people who say 'I can't draw!' and the concept behind it is to make meeting people and connecting more fun, social and relaxed. At the start of each public or private Doodleledo I see people coming in awkward, not sure, shy, scared of what's about to happen and full of inhibitions if they can manage whatever they'll be asked to do. When they come out, their body language is more opened (and trust me, it's not only due to drinks:), they become more confident, chatty, they unwind and you can see a physical change in their behaviour. Everyone after the event is still buzzing and wants more. They draw without even thinking about it as we design the drawing games in a way that they're interactive, require quick decisions (which is good for the brain) and there's no even time to worry about not being able to draw. You suddenly do it and after 2 hours you end up with few full on pages full of drawings. Ok they're simple in form, I get it, but you did it. You don't even know when and how. That's why I will always develop Doodleledo and have a space for it in my 24hrs as I see how profound and amazing the 2hrs can be. If you feel like joining the next one, details here.
3. HOME - draw your shopping list instead of writing. Takes more time yes but trust me, it's much more fun. Think of a game you can start with your family where you all start on one canvas and every time you pass it on to your family to continue the story and make it up as you go. There's so many ways you can use doodles in your personal life, it's nuts. Once our lift was getting stuck every time someone left something in the doors. People got really angry in my building and started complaining about the lift. I thought: I can't fix the lift but could fix the behaviour around it? I drew a poster with a huge elephant coming through a door to the lift and at least the whining stopped as maybe it was a little thing but I'm sure it put a smile on many of those faces.
Drawing does change your behaviour. It puts you in almost child - like state which is playful, free and doesn't judge. It makes others understand you better and maybe even smile when they think about you and what you drew and why. It makes you more relaxed, creative, helps brain to unwind and get into state of pure creation and imagination. It lets you create and how often that stops only at emails or Excel spreadsheets.
I'm not saying here anything that is not actually a scientific fact. I just very much use it and observe it every day much more than you.
So all I'm trying to say is .... draw again.