Jackie is a Chinese Malaysian lass who got out of the IT industry a little too late. As she puts it, “took me decades to realise that life is too short to do ‘what’s expected’ & not what makes me happy”. What followed is like a fairy tale – it starts with how she initially got interested in stationery, started a fountain pen collection, ventured and failed at art journaling and then got into doodling an art form that conceals more creativity than it reveals on the paper. Some say, a doodle is what you scribble absentmindedly, the perfect example being the doodles we all did to pass time in those boring classes. But is it that simple? Or that random? That mindless? Jackie’s work does not seem to corroborate the traditional “definition” – I am a huge fan and caught up with my dream doodler to know more. Excerpts:
Inked Happiness When did you start doodling “seriously”? I mean, we all doodle, but you have taken it to a much higher level – is it just because you are more methodical than most of us? Or is it because you have accorded the art form a kind of seriousness that is beyond the grasp of the ordinary?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: You flatter me :). I don’t take my doodling seriously at all. In fact, I never did any art or doodling after I left school. Judging by the grades I got and the comments from my peers, I was not good at art. I cannot draw.
On 3rd February, 2018, I was bored and was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I chanced upon a little doodle and thought, “hmmm, I can do that”, so I did. I must have been REALLY bored as up till then, I hadn’t done any form of art for 20+ years.
One thing led to another and I started experimenting with different styles and techniques, pushing myself as I progressed. I followed Zentangle step outs, watched process videos, scoured Pinterest etc. I practised & I practised & I practised.
I’ve been doodling for just over 2 years and the very fact that I’m producing “art” is still new & exciting to me. I’m not naturally artistic or talented. I feel, I’m just developing a skill.
Inked happiness: How much time do you spend on any one doodle? On an average, how many hours do you spend doodling in a day? A week? A month?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: My last doodle (A5 size) took just under 3 hours, which is fast for me. It all depends on the size, style & complexity of the design. I’ve spent over 20 hours on a B5 piece and an hour on a B6 one.
If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say I spend 5 – 15 hours a week doodling. It depends on my mood too, whether I’m feeling the need to create something or not.
Also, as I clean my pens at the end of the month, the last week is usually quite productive as am keen on emptying as many inked pens as possible 😄.
Inked Happiness: Did you learn doodling? Or does it just flow from some inner compulsion? Where do you get the basic design ideas? How do you choose the colour scheme?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: I am definitely self-taught and a LOT of practice has brought me here. I got everything I know of from YouTube, Google, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Process videos are my favourite.
I screen capture a lot of images on my phone and use them as a starting point for many of my spreads. It could be a picture of some rubber stamps, or a page from someone’s scrapbook or even an advertisement. The way I look at social media postings since I started doodling has changed. I notice artistic details now 😊.
I also do “challenges”. At present, I’m doing a 25 week one by a Zentangle group on Facebook. Every week, for 25 weeks, the organiser releases a list of 6 – 8 patterns for us to do. It’s a fun way to try new designs. Inktober is another great one. 31 designs in 31 days.
My colour selection is primarily based on the mood I’m in and what I want the spread to look like. For example, I don’t quite like the patterns I’m working on for the challenge this week. So, to give it a little oomph, I chose a shimmering ink & due to that ink, I had to go for a broad, wet pen.
Inked Happiness: What are your most preferred tools of trade? What fountain pens do you use? Inks? Paper?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: Fountain pens of course. I have a plethora of pens and inks. My collection isn’t the most valuable, but I do so love them. My collection is quite varied, ranging from a Montblanc to a Daiso pen. Most are affordable pens though.
I’m not a serious collector, but more of a user. “Fancy” pens don’t interest me. The nib and how the pen feels in my hand is of utmost importance. I need something that feels comfortable to hold for hours at a time, which is why I don’t like metal grips.
At the last count, I have over 80 different inks. I don’t have a favourite brand, but I do like wet, saturated inks. Sheening & shimmering inks look pretty, but are hard to work with.
It has been a long search for fountain pen friendly paper that I can doodle with and am absolutely thrilled that it’s come to an end. I’m obsessed with Tsubame paper. It handles fountain pen inks very, very well.
There is a wide variety of fountain pen friendly papers out there, but they are meant for writing and not doodling. They can’t handle layers of ink. Depending on the design of a doodle, I can have 10 or more layers of ink in one spot, for example, the centre of a pinwheel. Tsubame paper can handle this and it takes sheening & shading inks well too. The fact that it’s affordable is an added bonus.
Inked Happiness: Now the chicken and egg question – in your case, what came first? The fountain pen, or the urge to do the doodle?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: Fountain pens for sure. I started writing with them when I was in university. Am an avid user and for the longest of times, I was happy with my handful of pens and 1, maybe 2 bottles of ink.
Then, I got introduced to the world of stationery addicts and fountain pen collectors. My collection grew exponentially in a very short span of time. I started doodling as I was looking for a way to utilise and justify my fountain pen and ink collection /obsession.
Inked Happiness: How do you feel can doodling help those of us stuck at home, depressed and terribly bored? What will be your advice to us?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: Doodling is a great pick-me-up. Repetition is very calming. Doodle designs don’t have to be intricate. A simple line, repeated over an entire page can be very satisfying. Having a bright, cheerful ink can help elevate one’s mood too.
The hardest part about doodling is starting, especially in this day and age. One needs discipline and the will to get motivated, to get off the sofa and just start. It’s very easy, tempting even, to just mope about, but I can guarantee that if you put on some good music, pick up a pen and put it to paper, you’ll feel heaps better after a bit.
Inked Happiness: Have you ever thought of using your doodles professionally? What kind of opportunities are there for young and aspiring doodle artists?
Jackie, Doodler Divine: Oh no. That thought has never crossed my mind. Am not even tempted as I doodle for fun. It’s a hobby. As I’m not artistic by nature, if I HAVE to produce a piece, I get stressed and shut down.
Inked Happiness: Anything that you may want to communicate to our readers.
Jackie, Doodler Divine: If I can do it, anyone can ☺.
Keep Doodling. Stay safe.
For More on Jackie’s doodles: https://www.instagram.com/jkwrites/