The Power of the Doodle


With my new found spirit to be a little more regular with this blog, will come a little more willingness to be that much more transparent with you readers. One of the ways that I can do that, is to be honest about some of my insecurities as a designer, and the ways in which I hope to improve.

My recent showing at WMC Fest was a quick, but enjoyable one. There were so many extremely talented designers, whose work I could drool over. As many designers do, I found myself wishing more projects like that came through, allowing me to be a little more free and experimental with my design. In band merchandise, I often care way more about the band’s needs and aesthetic, than forcing my own agenda on to the piece. This is an attribute that I believe is imperative to be able to sustain your occupation over time. However, a life without doing work that expresses your unique aesthetic gets quite mundane and creatively taxing over time. There has to be a good balance of both.

Phone Call Doodles. We have to be more willing to doodle. There are several ways I can go into doodling, and how effective it is. When I think of doodling, I first think of being on a long phone call, with the pad and pen you were ready to take notes with. You realize you had one tiny thing to write down, and the rest of the page will be filled with doodles. Whether you write the name of the person you’re on the phone with in a ton of different styles, there is something to be said about the natural doodles you create with less than half of your concentration.


Don’t Be Limited By Fonts and Software. In the same spirit, it’s important to do this with your projects, when time allows. I often find that part of my job is about working quickly, and managing my time accordingly. Because most of the time, every band needs stuff all at the same time, and it comes firing in at me. I have to do my best to do good work, and do good work quickly. But when I get time, I try to make sure I get the sketchbook out to be able to freely try certain compositions out, without the limitations of the computer. This concept is an obvious one, and most designers are aware that a big portion of their work should be done off the computer.


The Pen is Mightier Than The Pen Tool. Another way I’ve found myself doodling over the years is with type styles. The rise of the popularity of hand-drawn styles has many of us designers stepping back from our font collection, and going back to pen and paper. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve found that I’ve been creating more end-product pieces, as opposed to sketches that I will improve on in Illustrator. The lines that I am drawing will be the lines on the final piece. I’ve been getting more and more excited about continuing to do this type of work. I’m realizing that the way I’m writing each of these letters are much freer than any attempt at moving anchor points in Illustrator. These doodles are becoming superior to my fonts. There is more heart and soul in this stuff than the perfection of even the greatest fonts. Some good examples are some of the recent lyrics tees I did for the band, Train. I also did a dribbble post about the project.

One of the greatest experiences I’m having doing hand-drawn type styles is how many times I will draw the same logotype, over and over again. I find myself doing one after another, changing something tiny each time. Or, just writing it over and over again, until one just stands out. I’ve found so much freedom and satisfaction from the ability to create a completely unique typeface with each attempt.



Work For Yourself …… Sometimes. Every once in a while, we have to be able to “doodle” with our own work. What I mean is to design the stuff that results when you just want to “mess around” with your work. Sometimes there is no client, yet, but a really good idea. So you find yourself getting in and designing a poster for no one. Or a album cover for a made-up band. There’s no other opinion to think about here, just you doing what you enjoy doing.

In my opinion, some of my favorite designers’ work seems to come from this place. They’re designing in realms where the client’s strict needs aren’t present, and they have this freedom to do whatever they feel. The drawback, however, is that many of these designers can get pigeonholed into one aesthetic. But, they’re staying happy creating what they really love to create.

I’m hoping to doodle a little more. I’m hoping to get back to whatever natural aesthetic my brain comes up with. I’m excited about what may be the result.

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