Zentangle: What is it?

Zentangle is a wonderful doodling method created sometime around 2004.  It’s slowly grown in popularity since then, and it’s still on the move.  As more and more people discover Zentangle, they create new methods that inspire even more people.

* Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

“Okay,” you may say, “so what exactly is it?”  We recently spoke with Bekah, a young Zentangler, to tell us more about it and to show us some of her unique creations.

As you can see, there are some surprising applications for Zentangle!  Our favorite piece of Bekah’s is the shoes shown in the thumbnail of the video.  Even just in the one shot, you can see at least seven different patterns.  Shoes probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think of doodling, but that got us thinking: why stop there?  You could Zentangle on a t-shirt, your jeans – even a hat – and make your own wearable art!  Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to find some kind of sealer or fabric markers (make sure to let it dry for a few days before washing by hand for either method).

How can Zentangle help me improve creativity and focus?

You might be surprised to find out that Zentangle can actually help increase not only creativity, but also focus.  “Instead of constantly just sitting there, twiddling my thumbs while someone is speaking around me, I can Zentangle and then I can remember what they were saying by what I drew.”  Similar to how simply writing notes as we listen to a lecture can help us remember the points made because multiple senses are used, Bekah suggests that Zentangle can help because she can think back and remember that she drew a particular pattern during a certain portion of a lecture.

Where do I start with Zentangle?

There are two main types of Zentangle, as Bekah described: “There’s a doodling style, where you kind of draw random patterns and put them together, and then there’s a more artistic style, where you make drawings of lions or people, as long as it has a structured outline.  Then you fill in some of the things with the patterns, like a lion’s mane would be full of the different kinds of Zentangles.”

You don’t have to be a great artist to get started Zentangling, either.  Bekah points out: “I like doodling, because I cannot draw!”  As her featured pieces show, that doesn’t really matter with Zentangle, and it can actually help you master some of the basics you need to become a better artist in general.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to grab a Zentangle book and work through the patterns in it.  Check out a couple options below and start boosting your Everyday Creativity with Zentangle today!

Pattern Play - a Zentangle book Zentangle Basics One Zentangle a Day
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The Spare Room Project is a community of artists dedicated to helping people realize their creative potential with the resources and space they already have. Some have found their voice again as we collaborate on music and audio production. Many have benefited from honest and practical articles about how to live a more creative life. All it takes to pursue your passions is to carve out a physical space for them – a bedroom, a corner, even a card table.


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