We were two weeks into the Spring Road Show, and I was standing in the historic Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, in London’s East End, talking to a man dressed head-to-toe in a suit covered with his own squiggly drawings. The wild-haired artist known as The Doodle Man (né Sam Cox) had spent the previous day covering someone’s guest bathroom with his trademark inky loops and creatures—a commissioned project, not an act of vandalism—and today we were talking about what he would live-doodle on the wall of our book lounge at the D&AD Festival. After shooting a few ideas back and forth I had a flash of near-genius.
“You’ve made books with Blurb? Why don’t you draw your book creation process?”
We talked it through: There’s the brilliant flash of the idea, then there’s the process of deciding exactly which images to use, the design, the upload, the printing (on our part), the waiting (on his), and the delight of getting his book.
So, over the next three hours, with the largest sponge-tipped marker I’d ever seen, The Doodle Man did just that. As people came to our book lounge to talk books, they stared in awe as Sam illustrated his creative journey, all freehand, with no predetermined pencil lines or sketches—the only exceptions being the Blurb logo and the lettering on his book.
“What’s he drawing?” People would ask.
“His book-making process,” I would answer, hoping this wouldn’t scare them away. After all, it was pretty chaotic. But for the creative mind, it’s so damn true. Though, granted, not everyone’s process includes a hallucinatory parade of pulsated ducks and aliens. But the steps and the emotions, the doubt and the inspiration—it was all there.
You’ve made books with Blurb? Why don’t you draw your book creation process?
When he was done, he’d filled in every space on the three sheets of paper we’d taped to the wall.
“You’ve done it,” I told him. “You’ve created the most comprehensive vision of the Blurb author’s creative cycle I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to show our entire team.” I took a photo with my iPhone and emailed it back.
Because, truly, the experience he sketched out is nearly universal. We talk about it all the time. We see the places where people get hung up (hint: it’s the point in the drawing where the Doodle Man looks the most anxious). We see where they’re having the most fun. And we see the point that seems like the longest—the waiting for delivery and the printing (even though, in reality, it’s just about 7 to 10 days).
You’ve done it. You’ve created the most comprehensive vision of the Blurb author’s creative cycle I’ve ever seen.
After the show we carefully rolled up the three sheets and shipped them back to the United States. We’re currently looking for a framer to mount the nearly 6×11-foot triptych for Blurb HQ. It’ll be a daily reminder of what the creative journey is and how each person here touches it. And if we ever need to be reminded just what that journey means, we’ll just consult the doodle.
Which part of The Doodle Man’s process do you identify with the most? Let us know!