The release of our brand new spiral notebooks and hardcover journals got me thinking about how integral sketching and writing is to the life of creative folks. Both our notebooks come with blank, lined, or graph pages, so they can suit pretty much any creative need from doodling, to note-taking, and beyond. Think of all the artists you know (yourself included) and it’d be hard to imagine them without owning at least a couple of books in which to sketch or jot down ideas.
After my experience doing four years at art school and now working inside a studio space, I’ve come to see notebooks, sketchbooks, legal pads, or long sheets of butchers’ paper as crucial to leading a creative life. Carrying around notebooks or journals or having them beside your bed to catch middle-of-the-night dream inspirations helps make sure you’re keeping hold of your best ideas. This post aims to highlight two things: first, to show off some truly cool notebook and journals designs that are now available on Redbubble, and second, to lay out some of the interesting facts I’ve learnt about the human brain and drawing.
Sketching helps your creative mind function
Sketching, doodling, or drawing has been shown to improve the ability for your brain to function and improve concentration. A study done in 2009 set out to find if drawing makes our attention span better or worse when trying to complete a basic task. Interestingly, after the tests were completed and results collated, the study’s lead, Professor Andrade, found that doodling and drawing aids concentration by reducing an individual’s capacity to go off on various thought tangents. If you were a participant in this study, and were completing a task while doodling, you would have retained about 29% more information than those that simply executed the basic task at hand.
This kind of research blows my mind, and indicates that drawing allows our minds to concentrate and get extra-mileage out of completing tasks or retaining information. The next time you feel like doodling in a work meeting, go for it, your brain is probably going to be better off because of it.
Doodling forces you to be present
Drawing helps your brain to be more “in the moment.” Drawing and doodling can act as another form of mindfulness meditation, and helps make completing one task easier. It can also help to let your mind work through things subconsciously, so you can tackle bigger-picture creative problem solving. I like to think of this as a kind of brain power-nap in the form of drawing so you can take the pressure off simmering questions that need time to be worked out.
I think lots of artists use this technique, especially in the planning stages of a creative project when they might not be able to visualize their finished artwork.
Drawing expands your memory and your mind
This piece of research shocked my socks off. Drawing exercises the “right side” of your brain which not only increases concentration and mindfulness, but has been shown to also exercise your brain’s learning synapses which can literally grow your brain.
Basically, by drawing, you are engaging in an activity that adds synapses to your neurotransmitters which strengthens the memories stored in your brain and thus, literally stretches your brain’s capacity. Drawing and doodling fires up the same area in your brain as when you’re learning a new skill or forming a new memory, and expands your mind in that way. It’s so wickedly cool that something as accessible as drawing or doodling can improve your cognitive function so greatly.
Most of us spend a huge portion of our daily lives using the “left,” analytical side of our brain to solve problems, but by doodling, you’re reaching in and exploring the “right side” from the simple marks you make on your page. And that is truly exciting.