Sunday, November 28, 2010

Could There Money in Walking Eyeballs?

I’ve been a doodler my whole life. My notes from classes & business meetings, phone messages & grocery lists are usually adorned by horsies with windblown mane, smiling suns with complicated rays, ornately framed words and eyeballs with feet (sometimes smoking a cigarette like a French eyeball รก la Rick Griffin). Sometimes I sketch people or objects in the room, draw imaginary flower arrangements, or draw portraits of my friends Archie style.

Chief Doodler Michael Lopez demos.
Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle
It’s been interesting to see doodles, which have long seemed to be an unnoticed solitary activity, start to appear in the news. I’ve been talking a lot with Denis Kitchen about his soon-to-be released book of his own doodles, Denis Kitchen’s Chipboard Sketchbook, with all of his surreal characters and wacky animals. Cartoonist Lynda Barry recently told NPR about how doodling helps her through writer’s block (personally I get carried away and keep drawing). Now, on the front page of the print edition of the Sunday SF Chronicle, we have a feature article on “the doodlers of Google” who draw all those cartoons on the Google home page.  It’s an interesting story about how the idea of these doodles came about, and how the doodles help Google seem more personal and connected to the millions of people who use the site. Chief Doodler for Google! A real job! Maybe there’s hope for making real money in the arts yet…

Still, more than the mythical high paying art job, is the fascination with doodles themselves. Why do we do it? Why do so many people find it relaxing to draw funny animals? Most people will tell you that it’s a subconscious, unplanned process. They put pencil/pen to paper, start a line and discover the drawing as it happens. I think we, the viewers, are intrigued by the mental process these drawings reveal, or maybe we just enjoy the looseness and spontaneity of them, a peek into the artist’s unguarded mind. I guess no matter how focused we get on staring at glowing screens, we still have an urgent need to express ourselves with our hands by creating something.