One of Pixar's most beloved mottos is, “It's not a real meeting unless someone is doodling.”
Travis Foster agrees. As the artist behind Blue Apple's I Can Doodle Rhymes and the upcoming I Can Doodle Dots, Foster knows a thing or two about letting a pencil run wild.
Travis was bitten by the doodling bug as a young boy growing up in Tennessee.
“Every day in class I would doodle,” he says. “I'd always get in trouble at the end of the year when I'd return my textbooks and the margins were covered with drawings. I'd pay the fines and keep on doodling.
In a fun way, these books are my little revenge,” he laughs. “I used to get in trouble for drawing in books. Now I'm making them!”
Travis' golden rule for his doodles is “Keep it simple.” After coming up with a doodle, he asks his 7-year -old daughter to try drawing it. “If she can do it with ease and it's fun, it works,” he says. “If there's a part she struggles with, or if she says it's too hard, then I know I can make it better. And better always means simpler.”
Making something look easy requires hard work.
“I used to watch basketball as a kid, and Michael Jordan made it look effortless,” he says. “As an adult, I realize that the more effortless something looks, the more effort it tends to take. I've gone around the mountain and back to learn how to achieve simplicity.”
Inspired by Apple's minimalistic style, Travis even chose his website name, iCanDoodle.com as a pun on its famous iPod and iPhone products. Steve Jobs' guiding mantra was that “simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” Travis' art fits this philosophy perfectly.
Travis says doodling is special because it is the one artform that is truly universal.
"Anyone with a pencil and paper can doodle," he says. “ A 3-year-old child, or an eighty-year-old man can do it. You don't need fancy supplies or an art degree. And you can produce a finished piece of art quickly.”
And good news, doodlers: it's good for your brain too. Studies show that doodling, rather than being a distraction, actually helps a person to focus.
“Your mind isn't distracted by what your hand is doing,” Travis says. “Doodling keeps the mind busy enough that it doesn't wander and helps to keep the brain on task.”
I Can Doodle Rhymes, in addition to teaching kids to draw, helps them learn how to write and spell. "It reinforces drawing, writing and spelling," says Travis. “My next book, I Can Doodle Dots, introduces kids to simple math. People think doodling is just daydreaming, but it actually helps learning."
Travis hopes parents will hold on to their childrens' doodles as keepsakes. “I save all my children's doodle books, because it tells me so much about their imaginations and how they see the world at that moment in time. Our doodles are artifacts of our childhoods."
So pick up a pencil and get doodling -- as Travis says, "we can all do it."