Art by another name


One thing I keep encountering when I talk to people about starting to draw: fear.  People are terrified of pens, paper, and brushes.  Art is scary.

So I propose we call it something else. Drawing or journaling or sketching or doodling or sketchbooking or testing your pen. I call it ‘art with a small a‘.

Here’s how I look at it.

There are so many things we are willing to do that we know other people do much better. There are all sorts of amazing chefs on TV doing incredible things with scallops and opening four-star restaurants, but we are all still willing to cook some burgers for dinner without being terrified. We don’t say, I just can’t use  a microwave, I didn’t go to cooking school.

We may not be ready for the NBA but we’ll toss a basketball around with some buddies.  We won’t be headlining at Madison Square Garden or winning any Grammys but we’re all still willing to sing in the shower or whistle while we work.  We may not be on the Pulitzer shortlist but we can still write an email or a birthday card.  We are just doing it to have fun. Or because it’s an essential part of life.  And I think art can be both.

We don’t need to label ourselves chefs, or basketball players, or musicians, or writers.  So why does art have to be so different?

If you want a painless, unscary way to start expressing your creativity, sign up for the best semester yet of Sketchbook Skool. Thousands of people who are rusty as barn door hinges are doing it.  Join us!

10 thoughts on “Art by another name”

  1. As I’ve always said, in the battle against the blank page, even a single drawn line wins. In the world of drawing/sketching/doodling, something – anything – is better than nothing at all.


  2. As always, Danny, you write such powerful and meaningful stuff which blows the cobwebs we hold onto. Fear can be a powerful enemy, holding hands with the monkey mind.

    Beautiful photo of a child drawing….Children just take a pen and a sheet of paper and just Draw. No judgement, just doing.

    As grown-ups, we have forgotten how this is done. This simple ” doing” is soo difficult. But we can and have to be willing to leave the heavy coat of expectation and criticism on the back of the seat. And then, the pen is light and wakes up with a story to tell.

    I have become a student of Storytelling, you can “tell”!


  3. It’s so true. When I started I would only draw on loose-leaf copier paper, because it wasn’t good enough for a real sketchbook yet. Luckily I found an old sketchbook tucked away somewhere that I had barely touched. I made many pages of “bad art”. (Fauvist? Art Brut?) But, it didn’t stay bad for very long at all. The bad stuff is just practice, things that were out of reach a year ago are now routine. People need to know this. Danny, you are doing your part and it motivates me to do the same. You are the Johnny Appleseed of illustration!


    1. Thanks for this, Matt. I’m just starting and it’s what I needed to hear. If more of the proficient artists in the world announced to the world that they were once pretty rubbish and that practice is what makes perfect, not your genes, it would help us newbies stick it out 🙂


  4. Oh wow…so many ways here to encourage people. Just told a lady last night that if she could sign her name, she could draw.. You have given great ideas here! Thanks so much. And the little boy drawing himself is adorable!


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