For designers, bringing your ideas to life through the effortless stroke of a pen is what is expected of us. Drawing should be second nature, part of your DNA. As a designer myself, it was frustrating and painful to struggle with this core competency. I blamed the proliferation of computer aided design and the excitement surrounding rapid prototyping. But in reality, I was afraid to draw.
I was afraid of making an errant mark and ruining a drawing. I was afraid of people judging a designer who couldn’t draw. By the end of 2016, I determined this fear of failure – of not creating the perfect drawing every time – was my Achilles heel. This fear was such an impediment that it prevented me from practicing my craft. Starting January 1st, 2017, I embarked on a year-long, boundary-pushing experiment to complete a drawing a day for 365 days. I didn’t need to know what I was going to draw when I made my first mark. The drawings didn’t need to be perfect and they didn’t need to be pretty. Most importantly, I didn’t need to show them to anyone. I just needed to sit down and draw. Every day.
It was challenging and frustrating and I almost gave up multiple times. I would sit, biting my pen, drinking copious amounts of coffee, waiting for inspiration to strike. I would feel the urge to rip a page out of my journal and pretend that creation didn’t emanate from my hands. As the weeks and months progressed, however, I found myself slipping into the routine more easily. I would make marks without knowing where they would lead me. I let the pen follow my thought pattern unimpeded by filters. I welcomed the errant line as a suggestion for a new direction. I was repeatedly surprised at where my drawings ended up when I removed the filter of fear. I moved from pen and ink to graphite, charcoal, collage, and even acrylics. I experimented with different media and techniques. I relinquished control.
By December 31st, I had six swelling journals with 365 drawings. But more importantly, I had a newfound confidence and excitement about the practice of drawing. My drawings still won’t win any awards, and some people will still snicker at them, but I’ve learned more about myself and my process than I could have imagined. I’ve reinvigorated myself with a powerful creative tool and work ethic that will allow me to further explore my craft, my profession, and myself.