Every Thursday I face an auditorium packed with 60 designers-to-be at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. Together with my senior colleague, trained architect and Belgian gourmand Jos Delbroek, we teach first-year students about architecture (he) and social design (me).
One of the first things Jos teaches the students – and taught me – is swapping your laptop for an A4 sheet and a sharp pencil. This way, you train your handwriting, your design signature. Over and over again, he asks to draw what you see or imagine. Because, “the more one looks, the more one gets to see”.
Jos pointed me to Urban Sketchers, a global network of artists, who “show the world, one drawing at a time”. They sketch by taking the following in mind:
- We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation.
- Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
- Our drawings are a record of time and place.
- We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
- We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
- We support each other and draw together.
- We share our drawings online.
- We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Product of a predominantly academic schooling myself, I’ve for long perceived any doodling in between the lines as competing with my lists, causal-relations-pointing arrows or starry bullet points. Now, I know it’s a great means of putting things down as clean as possible.
Words, shapes, lines, voids, hand-drawn type growing from the movements of your hands process the input of your senses. That makes paper and pencil a great means to train unbiased observation. And if your sketches in turn reveal a bias, just sketch it away.