Just do(odle) it: How everyone (yes, everyone!) can effectively sketch ideas

If you’re visual designer reading this right now, chances are that you’re already an avid sketcher with a ton of ideas your treasure trove of notebooks, Moleskines, hard cover A4 notepads, and logbooks…not to mention a handful of Post-It notes that you can’t quite account for right now (hint: maybe take pictures of them with your phone next time). 

Despite modern design tools and technologies that make iteration and ideation faster and more efficient than ever, some of our best work is still done when we put pen to paper. It’s how we simplify the complex ideas in our heads, how we experiment and explore, and how we help our teams and clients move further in the ideation process. Neil Cohn, a linguist, graphic artist, and researcher in cognitive psychology and linguistics at Tufts University, says that “graphic expression and visual thinking are a central part of human cognition” and even argues that drawing is very much structured in the same as language. 

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Sunni Brown, a consultant, international speaker and author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently, says that “doodling is an incredibly powerful tool…that we need to remember and to re-learn.” She has spent years educating adults on the benefits of applying visual language. “We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus,” says Sunni in her popular TED Talk from 2011, “but in reality, it is a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus.”Ultimately, sketching is just as important as any other creative method. Just like with Trigger cards, it’s important that for you to approach sketching ideas with the right mindset. Using our three Fair play cards as guidelines, we wrote down three principles that prove how anyone can make the most out of using a sketchbook. 

Draw It If Necessary

Although most people are more comfortable with having a simple discussion with teammates, nothing gets an idea across faster than sketching it down. It’s the easiest way for you to articulate an idea, and it’s the easiest way for team mates to understand your idea when they see it. 

We Are All Creative

At Triggers, we believe that we are all creative - you don’t have to be the greatest illustrator in the world to have a sketchbook. Anybody — and we mean anybody at all — can doodle a great idea. But not everyone has adopted this mindset just yet and, a lot of times, the practice of visual thinking is left for the “creative” people to do. The main goal of sketching is to make sure that anyone can understand what your idea is, so putting people in the creative and non-creative category only hinders the process. 

Never Stick To An Idea Too Strongly

The art of sketching ideas lies in experimenting, exploring, and keeping things moving. That’s why it’s important to never overthink the process - sketching should be just as fun as it is productive. 

Conclusion

By keeping the Fair Play guidelines in mind, we hope that all users Triggers — from designers and storytellers to front-end developers and strategist — begin to add sketching to their creative toolkit more frequently. When you choose to explore and experiment on paper, you allow your team to see your ideas through your eyes. When advertising pioneer Alex F. Osborn developed the technique of brainstorming during the industry’s golden era, it was based on the premise that anybody—absolutely anybody—can have a great solution. And more than often, the simplest of ideas provide the best results. His two golden rules - “Do Not Criticize” and “Every Idea is a Good One” - give room for simplicity and the ability for people to think differently, which is why people need to worry less about not being great at drawing. As designer Mike Rohde puts it, “Ugly gets the job done just fine.”