Why You Need to Draw

  • By OSNS

    Published on 16 September 2012

The act of drawing helps us to see more. That is why we refer to Drawing at Old School as "The First Dimension". Drawing underpins everything that we do as designers

Drawing helps us to see more. By this I mean really "seeing" what is front of us, not what we think we see. That is why we refer to Drawing at Old School as "The First Dimension". Drawing underpins everything that we do as designers. It is miraculous that whenever I spend the morning drawing, the world appears to be more vivid. Not that I have ever taken hallucinogens, but if I did, this is how I imagine the effect to be. The contours of shapes and shadows seem sharper, more vivid and defined. Shadows jump out at me. I can see all of the blues, purples and greens in the shadows. I start to see patterns and interconnections of shapes. 

The world starts to become one large design, when I start to think about how these tones, forms and shapes fit into one another to form a relationship, and I start to play around with the idea of changing them all. 

As a designer, this hyper way of seeing translates over into making the detail of spacing between individual letter forms, and lines of text/type apparent. It helps me appreciate the myriad of shapes and spaces within different fonts and characters and the way they all fit together. 

It helps me to focus and take my mind away from other issues when time flies. This helps me to calm down so that I can return to my other work with a clear mind.

Why don't we draw?

This one is easy. We think that we cannot. Of course you cannot if no one ever taught you. It is not a god given talent. If you never try how are you ever going to make beautiful drawings? And it is NOT supposed to be easy. 

Unfortunately we all seem to have swallowed the myth that drawing comes naturally to some, but not us. I have taught hundreds of students and the reality is that those people who seem to find it easy are as scarce as hen's teeth. 

Most people are lucky if one out of three drawings they make is actually good, and we are all our most harsh critics. That is why you need a good teacher who will support you and help you see the strengths in your work that you can't initially see. Trust me, strengths ARE there. 

It is also important to be patient and give it time. Did you know when you are learning any skill at all you will start to see progress when you have worked at it for 5,000 hours (some say 10,000 but I believe 5,000). This stands for learning a musical instrument, learning a new language, learning to dance or of course, drawing. 

My tips are these. 

Stop making excuses.

Be like a kid. Just pick up a tool, ignore all the silly criticism going on in your head, and go for it. This means that you don't worry about what your drawing looks like, you just do it! Learn to love your mistakes and be happy with your own style. Slowly your drawings will change but your style is always yours alone and that is what makes your work so special. 

Of course I know you don't waste hours watching TV, so swap 2 - 3 yoga/meditation sessions each week for an hour's drawing practice over the course of a year. You will see a change. And drawing is another form of meditation anyway. 

If the thought of ruining a book stresses you out, just draw on photocopy paper. But if you dislike your drawing it is important to MAKE yourself continue. Modify it, edit it, but don't throw it away. This is a valuable experience that will teach you alot. Often the mistakes we make are what actually make our drawings very beautiful. 

If you are not sure what to draw, copy a photo out of the newspaper, draw the contents of your pantry. Anything at all. Anything, just start quickly now, and draw it and stop fussing:)

This picture is a series of quick drawings I completed over one week. As you can see some are nicer than others. Not all are perfect and the imperfections give the drawing more character. For example look at the oddly shaped wonky knees of the legs in socks, or the huge ears of the cat in the bottom picture. These elements are what create charm. They are part of my own personal journey, and yours should represent your journey. Why don't you get up early tomorrow morning and start?