The so-called aimless drawings have taken a new avatar and can be seen everywhere — from mugs, trays, key chains to wall posters, wedding cards, and even T-shirts, sarees, scarves
Printed images, mostly in black and white, and many a time in colour, are finding new surfaces. These are seen almost everywhere — homes, offices, roadsides, hotels, coffee shops and even theatres. From utility products like mugs, trays, key chains, mobile-lap top covers, fridge magnets, greeting cards, wall posters, wedding cards to apparel like T-shirts, trousers, sarees, scarves, etc. —all flaunt these unique printed or embellished designs.
These seem quite familiar and simple. Remember the school / college days and those boring lectures? The only thing one can recollect from such classes is one’s pretence of taking down notes while one was actually busy aimlessly drawing — circles, lines, leaves, petals, mountains, rivers, eyes, nose, lips, etc — in one’s notebooks. Of course, one had no idea that what one thought was a mindless drawing was actually an art form — doodle. Every student has indulged in this ‘artistic’ activity. This so-called aimless activity has now become famous as the world doodle art or the doodle art movement. The older classic forms and art movements like Cubism, Impressionism, Modernism, Abstract, Expressionism, Surrealism, etc. took centuries to gain popularity but doodling has become a hit and has become a trend in a short while.
The best thing is that doodling isn’t restricted only to schools or colleges. One can see this art form everywhere — on the files of businessmen attending important board meetings; on the paper napkins in coffee shops while having a cappuccino; on dinner plates in restaurants. One is always surrounded by these shapes and forms.
Depending on the mood of the artist, some of these shapes may be moody, sad while others may be happy. But one thing common in all of these is their quirkiness. The definition of doodle is a form of involuntary drawing made while a person’s attention is otherwise engaged. Doodles are now seen as a simple drawing which may or may not represent any meaning. This is a great and fun way of expressing one’s feelings or moods.
Today, it has reached the zenith of popularity and has become a viable commercial art form. From simple college students to professional illustrators, many are utilising this art form to earn a living. It is as though the new mantra is ‘doodle, have oodles of fun and earn’. And these doodlers are spread across the globe, most of them working in either metros or other two-tier cities. They are present on social media sites and most of them sell their signature products on e-portals like Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, etsy.com, cafepress.com and others besides, of course, the usual trendy retail outlets and coffee shops. While the products of other art forms cost thousands and lakhs of rupees, product prices of doodle art range from Rs 150 to Rs 1,500. Of course, designer sarees and other clothes may have a different pricing.
“The reason for its popularity is its quirkiness and easy to understand messages expressed in a fun way,” explains Bengaluru-based 28-year-old Alicia Souza who gets the credit from other professional illustrators-cum-doodlers of starting the doodlism in India. Alicia has more than 47,000 followers on Facebook. She has also supplied her products to big companies like Google, Yahoo, Mondelez, AOL, Chennai Super Kings, etc. besides talking on creativity at several TEDx events and in various colleges in India.
She emphasises that she only draws or illustrates with a message. Alicia calls herself ‘a nonsensical musing illustrator’. Besides the usual merchandising, offices use doodle images to drive home a point. Messages of holiday announcements, problems of absenteeism, late comers and early goers, increments, etc. are received better with quirky doodles even if the announcements are not in favour of employee’s interests. Doodle cards are used to wish the employees during festivals, birthdays or anniversaries.
Though doodling has become trendy now, the word came into existence a couple centuries ago. It meant a fool or a simpleton. The modern meaning came into being last century where it meant being lazy. Psychological studies say that doodling or aimless drawing can help better a person’s memory by using enough energy to keep one from day dreaming. Some of the famous doodlers are Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, who made many doodles in his manuscripts. Poet and physician John Keats, too, doodled on the margins of his medical notes. Poet Alexander Pushkin’s abundant doodles have been converted into books and also some of them were animated in the 1987 film My Favorite Time. Many American presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton, were known to have doodled during meetings. Besides these we have Google doodles for every popular event.
“Some of my clients ask me for personalised or customised doodle products for gifting,” says 22-year-old Mumbai-based Nirali Gada who, though a new entrant in the business of selling doodle products, has become very popular.
Besides the popular items like T-shirts, key-chain hangers, coffee mugs which she sells from cheripo.com and yellowmurphy.com, Nirali is popular for her doodle-etched pebbles. “I source pebbles from Mumbai markets and etch names of clients, stick drawings of a couple or whatever else my clients demand,” says the young artist who dreams of selling her products from etsy.com a website famous for e-commerce of handmade products.
Though there are many doodlers around, unless one specialises or delivers something unique there is every chance of them fading out.
Chennai-based SCD Balaji of Atma Studios, has a different line of doodle — contemporary Indian folk art doodle. He says, “When I got an opportunity to create quirky illustrations for the brand www.latlakar.com. I went through several international illustration styles. Unfortunately, everything looked monotonous and repetitive. So I started searching the styles within India and came up with the iidea of using contemporary Indian folk art into doodle form.”
Working for more than 11 years as an illustrator, Balaji has so far done more than 55 illustrations using Indian folk arts. He has created wedding cards, wall posters, etc. besides conducting several workshops in folk-art doodling. His first workshop was conducted by the National Institute of Design and he has started a community called ‘Indian Folk Art 365’, where he plans to have 365 Indian Folk Art Illustrations in contemporary cultural concepts, portraying the beauty of Indian folk arts and the tradition. “I want artists, designers and creative enthusiasts to contribute to 365 Folk Arts on #indianfolkart365!” says the artist who loves to produce personalised wall posters for writers, bloggers and journalist friends.
Mumbai-based Huma Asgar of Doodle Collection specialises in creating doodle diaries. Her diaries carry a tag line of ‘The joy of writing’ are light, pocket diaries which are conceived with a range of designs catering to specific gender, different professions, moods, styles, personalities and can be personalised also by printing names on them. She has produced doodle diaries for corporate houses like UTV Bindaas, HSBC and Kotak Mahindra banks.
If you thought doodling to be an idle pastime, time you gave it the respect this art deserves considering how doodlers are making money out of it.