doodling, a misunderstood art.


In those rare and very important moments we experience as designers, when we get a random idea in our heads for some kind of product or design, what are we supposed to do to remember these concepts?

In school and in most workplaces we are taught that this kind of revelation happens after hours, days or maybe even months of planning and research but many designers could, and would tell you that this is not always true. A lot of young designers seem to think that the initial sketch of an idea has to be a perfect representation of size, shape and colour. This is not true. Your initial idea does not have to be beautiful it simply has to remind you of what it could be with further development. Drawing a simple 30 second doodle on a bit of scrap paper, a sketchbook or even the back of a napkin can help you remember the idea and give you something to refer back to if you decided to take this idea into development. However this is something rarely seen in young designers nowadays because of the continuously irritating misconception of doodling.

In Sunni Brown’s TED Talk – Doodlers, Unite- she mentions the definition of the word “doodle” throughout the centuries and none of them reflect towards anything positive, when actually they should do. Today the definition of the word doodle can be described as: to scribble mindlessly, or as stated in Sunni Brown’s ‘Doodlers, unite’ “to do… nothing”. The best way to respond to these definitions is to simply say that they are wrong. Scientific research and studies show that people who doodle whilst being exposed to verbal information such as a meeting or a lecture retain much more information than the people who do not doodle.

It is also known that there are four ways that human beings learn, they are auditory (when they are spoken to), visual (information that we retain from what we see infront of us), reading and writing and finally, kinesthetic (information we gather from observing how something moves). However in order to fully retain the information presented in front of us we need to engage at least two of these methods. The real and true beauty of doodling is that it contributes all four of these methods simultaneously allowing us to absorb even more information quicker, more efficiently and with the possibility of an emotional response. That is a pretty strong CV for something with the apparent capacity to do nothing.

Although I am a strong believer in the art of doodling as it is a fantastic way to retain information and is an incredibly useful tool for designers if they are struggling to remember past ideas, I do understand why people may look negatively towards doodling. If you think for example that you are trying to explain something to a friend which you see as quite important and informative, and you look at your listener to see them scribbling on the back of a scrap piece of paper whilst you’re talking you may see it to be rude and disrespectful (especially if you don’t know or understand the advantages to doodling and why the person might actually be doing it).

Some examples of me doodling during university to remember my ideas.

This aside, people really do need to realise the importance of doodling and understand how powerful a tool it actually is. If at any point you find yourself in the situation where you are presenting someone with some kind of information and you look up to see them drawing around their notes, do not immediately think of the disrespect and rudeness, think of how this individual is enhancing their learning through the use of a simple design. After All they are only trying to help themselves learn better, faster and stronger.


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