Tue 14 Nov
The last thing you want to do, if you’re a designer in a business environment who wants to be taken seriously, is spend your time in meetings doodling like an idle schoolboy. Rather, you should be an active and attentive participant in the conversation, someone whose mind is present and alert, and not lost in the meanderings of the scribbles in the margins of your notebook paper.
And yet, we’re designers, and we can’t help ourselves, right? Or, at least, I can’t. It’s like my drawing hand has a brain of its own, and it feels compelled to entertain itself when left to its own devices with a notebook, a pen and any idle moment. It’s a bad habit that I try to be discreet about, but I can’t deny that it’s a distraction I quite enjoy, too.
In fact, given how passionately I used to feel about drawing as an activity to fill my time, and given how little of it I get to do, these little sketches are like miniature sessions — thirty, sixty or a hundred and twenty seconds at a time — of release. I’m rarely as free or unihibited in visual expression as I am when I’m pointlessly doodling. As I get along in my career — and more serious in the constituent parts of my day — I’ve realy come to value these fleeting opportunities to unspool my brain.
For most of the year, I’ve kept all of my workday notes in a single notebook. Which means it’s also served as a catch-all for these doodles, a handy compedium of my idle sketching from 2006. It might be a little premature to excerpt the best ones from the year now, when it’s still only early November. But I’ve grown really attached to some of these, flipping past them as I do almost every day, so I thought I’d share…
Naturally, I’ll sketch the folks around me, though there are only so many drawings of office people sitting at conference room tables that can defy the effects of boredom. These particular folks shall remain nameless.
And there are times when I start trying to sketch up a likeness of Mister President from memory, never getting it quite right.
At about the time of those dog drawings, I developed a minor fascination with the idea that a comic strip speech balloon could be rendered dimensionally, with shading describing form. A very, very minor fascination.
One morning I drew a table setting — for a breakfast, I suppose. And then, of course, I imagined that it on a huge scale, with a minitature athlete running through it like an obstacle course. Of course.
I think I’d just watched “River of No Return,” which is a phenomenal movie starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe and directed by Otto Preminger, which led me to draw some cowboys one afternoon. As soon as I was done with them I realized they were gay cowboys. You can just tell.
I’ve been drawing these weird, sack-like happy creatures for years, on and off. I’ve never known what they represent, or at least I’m not going to get into it right now. But I’m drawn to those semi-organic shapes that look like they might also have been chiseled from granite, like in the suitcase I drew at the right here.
I also spend a lot of time in the privacy of my doodles quietly emulating the ‘clear line’ aesthetic of one of my early heroes, Hergé. With varying success.
Woops, here are those sack creatures again, next to as accurate a drawing as I’ve ever done of that sleepy exhaustion that attacks after lunchtime. Ahh, office life.
Anyway, you’ve all got the same thing going on at work, too — a notebook full of your own improvisational draughstmanship, stashed in the margins of your work papers, right? I knew it. Link it below and let’s see it.