Creator Q&A: Learn How to Doodle
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Andrew and Tom are a pair of doodle enthusiasts that’ve taken it upon themselves to publish a whole book on the topic. Their how-to Teach the World How to Doodle will come full of original doodles, tips, techniques, and a treatise on doodle theory that — according to the boys — will “reign as the most definitive seminal contribution to doodle scholarship EVER.”
Admittedly doodling is not the most serious of subjects. But Andrew and Tom transform a (to some) insignificant habit into a thoroughly legitimate artistic behavior. They take their work seriously — in an unserious way.
Read Andrew and Tom’s fun/serious banter below. Support the project here.
So - doodling! Why doodling? What about it got you so interested? (I say this as a person who is a chronic doodler. Really. It’s bad.)
Tom: Yes, doodling! I would say that having to sit still and quiet all the time got me interested in doodling. As a child there was school and church, and now, as an adult, there are meetings.
Andrew: Cassie, please. There is nothing bad about doodling.
Tom: Doodling has all the joy of art and making and writing, but its also outside the world of Art or Writing, which are Important Productive Endeavors. The beauty of doodling is that it creates no product. Of course, we’ve ruined all that by putting them in a book and trying to sell it.
Andrew: YES. Tom has hit it right on the head. Doodling is an artistic activity that ANYONE can do, ANY TIME, and can feel good about. Or not feel anything about—it’s just a doodle. I think people live under a lot of pressure from a lot of different sources to make sure whatever they are doing at any given time is worthwhile somehow: people are supposed to work hard at their job, get the most restful night’s sleep they can, maybe professionally develop their career with a night class, and if they’re going to draw, they should make sure to draw something that looks like a drawing is supposed to look. BUT if you doodle, properly, you can draw something stupid or embarrassing or ugly or wasteful, or manic or ordered or idiotic or mindless or dopey, and then you can just throw it away with the rest of the notepad. And I see that as a GREAT VICTORY for our SOULS.
What is the best/most unusual place you’ve ever successfully doodled?
Tom: The recent opportunity we had to doodle all over a great big white wall in an art space was really a delight.
Andrew: For a while Tom had this idea that we would doodle love letters to the world, like doodle with crayons on some construction paper and then leave the result wherever we happened to be. I think I did that once and left a doodle letter in the men’s bathroom of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Do you remember that, Tom?
Tom: Oh yeah! I forgot about those. I remember your Ethical Culture victory, but I forget where exactly I put mine. Some similarly glorious place, I expect.
Andrew: Anyway that project crumbled, probably under the weight of its great success. So I would have to say that big wall at the Gowanus Studio Space is the most successful doodle thus far.
Cassie: Any heroes of doodling that you can think of?
Tom: That’s a good question. It’s hard to think of a famous “doodler,” probably for good reason. I really get a kick out of people who cut up the advertisements in the subway and re-paste them over others. That seems like doodling to me, and it has the heroic quality — battling the monster. It’s got spirit.
Andrew: Probably Tolstoy and Melville.
Tom: Ok, then I’m going to add Victor Hugo. He drew with coffee.
Where did the inspiration for making a book come from?
Tom: Two considerations. 1) It’s exploiting an untapped niche — very American, very market-solutions oriented. 2) I was going through all these old how to draw books about five years ago and thought, “What’s so great about drawing, anyway?” So I created a page of How To Doodle and took it to Andrew, who immediately made the first installment of Doodle Theory, and we have sort of been noodling around ever since.
Andrew: My first thought was, “Well, someone better make sure this fits into the grand scheme of the humanities.” And no one else stepped up, so I’ve taken on the mantle of doodle theorist to the world. It’s a position that demands a lot of vanity.
Tom: As we’ve done it, though, I have begun to think that you actually can teach people a few techniques and attitudes that will help them embrace doodling. Because doodling, really, isn’t about getting better at it, so much as just doing it. I’m not sure how many of said tips have actually made it into the book, though.
Andrew: Right. Did we mention the book is doodled? So it gets off track, which is maybe charming if you’ve already achieved the sort of mystical doodle zen-state that this book tries to induce, and/but probably a little dizzying if you don’t get it.
Tom: We’re really hoping people are going to be okay with that.
How’s response been to your Kickstarter project so far?
Tom: Great! A some exciting things have happened: 1) Our friends have contributed, which is a very warm and wonderful thing 2) Strangers have pledged! That’s exciting. 3) One of our friends is going to be giving away several copies of our book as gifts, which is really flattering 4) We are getting interviewed, like we are real public intellectuals, which is, of course, our ultimate goal.
Andrew: Yes, if we get invited to speak at a conference, we’ll know we’ve really made it as doodle experts. But until then, we have this modest goal to print a small amount of books, and we’re truly overwhelmed by the thought that other people are willing to help us reach that goal.
What’s been your most popular reward?
Tom: $20, which is the book, signed, with extra doodles drawn inside of it, but we’ve had a surprising number of takers for the $100 level, which includes a screen print of your favorite page, a handmade birthday card, a custom doodle, and of course, the book. We knew it was a good deal, but who has $100 anymore? Banks?
Any closing thoughts?
Andrew: Please, please, please, take us exactly as seriously as you feel like you should.
Tom: Think about giving at the $10,000 level. We will make the most beautiful book you can imagine.
And also, just out of curiosity, do you have any doodles in public spaces around Brooklyn? (Since that is also where I live, I am wondering if I ever would have seen them while wandering around in the subway and/or random back-alleys).
Tom: Unless you’re a big attender of ethical culture lectures, probably not. I think that was our one and only foray into, um, disruptive doodling.
Andrew: Disruptive but caring.
Tom: Also, they painted over our doodle in the art space, which taught us both important lessons about impermanence and letting go.
Andrew: I read in the latest issue of Professional Theorist Magazine that doodling in public spaces is considered “street art” now, so, strictly speaking, we’re not allowed to doodle around town anyway. Critical consensus could always change, but for now it’s only indoors or on the page.
Tom: Oh yeah, doodling is mostly relaxing, but since we’ve formalized it into a school, there is the constant danger of being excommunicated to the doodle wilderness.