Doodling, primarily considered the in-between stage before an idea becomes a full fledged illustration, has sort of come into its own in Kathmandu especially over the past few months with artists offering a range of beautiful, customized products. There are many Instagram accounts, notebook manufacturers, as well as cafes around town where you can see doodles in their full glory. While doodlers have various tendencies, preferences and motivations, all doodlers know the marvelous, mind-dusting reverie of doodling. Here, we spoke to some people for whom doodling is an inseparable part of who they are to better understand how this evolving art form can help put our minds at ease. In the process, we also got some interesting personal stories.
Taking it to the next level
Juliana Shrestha and Subina Shrestha have very different stories as to how they started doodling. Yet what was common was their passion for art that led them to open a combined account on Instagram, doodle.cha, to give their creativity an outlet through social media.
“I went through what most students face during their time at the university,” says Juliana. “Working under pressure would often make me prone to anxiety attacks. Ironically, I started doodling during a psychology classes, as I could not concentrate on the lecture,” she adds. Since then her love for doodling only grew deeper.
Subina, on the other hand, started doodling during her exams. “My parents would often get furious seeing me doodling instead of studying for an upcoming test,” says Subina. “But doodling actually helped better my concentration power,” she explains. That was during her under-graduate years and ever since then she has continued to pursue her passion for doodling.
Both of them used to post their artwork in their personal social media platforms. Appreciating each other’s artwork on social media is how they became friends. It was only later that they thought of combining their work and promoting it together. “It’s only been four months since we opened a combined account. It was our passion project, not anything professional,” says Juliana.
At that point, these two young students did not know where they were heading. “But very soon we stated getting request for customized doodles,” says Subina. “We realized our work had the potential to reach and touch the masses and started coming up with bookmarks and other customized doodle designs shortly thereafter,” she adds.
They soon realized that there were many who were interested in doodling in Kathmandu. Thus they began facilitating doodle workshops on Saturdays. That workshop was the beginning of what they wanted to do. “We want to build a community of doodlers in Kathmandu,” states Juliana. They want to spread the message that doodling can be done anywhere and by anyone.
“This art form was a way to attain concentration and mindfulness for us and we wanted to share that with the world,” adds Subina. That is why they named their workshop, Zen Doodle Yatra. “Our doodle yatra (journey) gave us a lot of satisfaction and, through the workshop, we wanted people to experience the same feeling,” says Subina.
According to Juliana and Subina, there are no stores in Nepal that entirely promote or cater to the doodle culture, which is why, in the future, they want to open a store that has many varieties of doodled products. “Hopefully people will come to our store not just to buy our products but to sit down and doodle with us too,” concludes Juliana.
Art for serenity
As a child, he loved to draw. His notebooks used to be filled with tiny sketches around the margins.
“Others called it scribbling, but for me it was more than just random lines and squiggles,” says Bikash Shakya, a graduate in graphic communication from Kathmandu University. “I loved making random designs on my drawing books, notebooks, and anywhere around the house but I did not know back then that it was called doodling,” he adds.
“There were no artists in my house so, for most part of my childhood, I did not know that art could be a profession,” says Shakya adding that art as a career option was unheard of. Hence, he took up science during his high school years. It was only for his graduation that he finally thought of studying design and it was a bold step to take.
According to Shakya, it has not been more than three years since the concept of doodling came to Kathmandu. “It is still not recognized as a form of art,” says Shakya. “I only understood the concept of a doodle in my final year of under graduation,” he continues. Since then, for the past two years, Shakya has been actively drawing at least one doodle every single day.
Like every artist, Shakya’s doodling technique is slightly different from others. Most of his figures are an amalgamation of random thoughts juxtaposing one another. His doodles may contain an element of peace and disturbance combined beautifully in one page. “What I put on paper is just a reflection of my thoughts,” he explains. “And my thoughts are never still, I may be calm and disturbed at the same time,” he adds.
Shakya is now inclined towards doodling on 3D objects rather than just drawing on a paper. One of his favorite doodle is a sculpted dolphin that was a part of an art exhibition in Japan. “I have now started doodling on 3D objects. I have doodled on my vacuum cleaner and my laptop as well,” he says.
For Shakya, doodling is the ultimate escape from work. “Although I work in a design company the work I do cannot be compared to just doodling because you want to and not because you have to,” he exclaims. Others may prefer going to a restaurant or a movie after work but Shakya’s much loved way to relax is by doodling.
“Even if I am forced to go and watch a movie, I will be thinking about ideas for my next doodle in the movie theatre,” he explains. For him, doodling is for self-satisfaction and he does not intend to sell his artworks. “I draw random lines first and then think of ways to beautify those lines,” he says adding that the process can be soothing and invigorating at the same time.
Driven by passion
“There is no greater feeling than a customer appreciating my work,” says Sajita Shahi. “I remember, I had once doodled around Nepal’s map and the expression on the customers face when she saw my doodles was priceless,” she adds.
Shahi primarily focuses on Mandala style of doodling that is circular in shape. Her designs are extremely intricate and one piece can take a week or even a month to make. “Making Mandalas help me attain peace,” says Shahi. “If I have had a really bad day, I sit down to doodle in Mandala style and those designs help me calm down,” she explains.
As a child, she was a lot into sketching portraits. Her first doodle, she still remembers, was a border for an art piece. It was only after she finished high school that a friend suggested her to make a Mandala for an exhibition in Chitwan. “I gave my own creative touch to the traditional Nepali Mandala to participate in the exhibition,” says Shahi. “I got a lot of appreciation in that exhibition and I started making more of those,” she continues. Who knew in such a short time they would become an inseparable part of me,” exclaims Shahi.
But Shahi claims that a doodlers’ life is far from easy in this city. A simple thing as a graphic pen, that is important for doodling, can be extremely difficult to find in Kathmandu. Shahi has sometimes spent an entire week hunting for the pens, which goes a long way to show how passionately Shahi feels about her work.
Her work became easily accessible to the public once she opened an Instagram account. Many wanted to buy her artwork and that was how she got into the business of making and selling doodles. Her doodles are usually beautifully framed before handing them over to the customers. “I want my doodles to be intricate, clean, and perfect,” says Shahi. “I often spend more than two hours at the store that frames my doodles,” she adds. She sits there in the shop and makes sure that nothing gets dirty while framing it. “I’m obsessed with the cleanliness of my doodles and that’s one of my bad habits,” she says.
Shahi says that while she can’t live without doodling, she gets inspired to do even better when she receives positive feedback through social media. But not only that her work subject itself, which are the Mandalas, inspire her the most. “The biggest lesson I have learnt from them is that a wait may be long but hard work always pays off,” she concludes.