We recently received just such an email. After a week with no reply we thought we'd open up this conversation for you to jump in. Both emails are complete and unedited other than removing sender's name and email.
Comments: "It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing."
1) It's not new. Patterned drawing is one of the oldest forms of mark making. The oldest known examples: 60,000 years old
2) Just because you make up a cute name for something does not mean you've discovered something new or unique. The most irritating thing about this whole charade is; these ideas have been around since before religion was formalized in pretty much every culture. Sand paintings, mandalas and probably another dozen forms that all have the same basic effect of the motion of creating random patterns inducing an altered state of consciousness. Holy Crap you people are ignorant.
3) It's called DOODLES people. Scientists know about it, Artists know about it, Monks, Holy Men and seemingly every body but you two know about it.
As stupid as this is, and as ignorant as you and the people you are targeting are; you are probably making money hand over fist.
Hi ______,Pertinent to this conversation is an insightful blog post by Verlin. We invite you to read all of it, but here's an excerpt.
Interestingly, a few minutes before we got your message we received this one from England:
"What have you done! Just when I thought I should be acting like a well behaved old lady at 91, I get to hear about zentangles. Now I can’t look at a piece of paper without picking up a pen and....hours later.. What is mother up to now! Anyway, thanks a million, you have given me a new outlook to each day. Thank you so much."
Yes, patterned drawing is an ancient, primal and common experience and "language" of humans throughout all cultures, languages, religions and eras. That's a big part of what we tell people and likely a big part of Zentangle's acceptance, because it is so instantly recognized as familiar, but overlooked nevertheless. We trace the lineage of many of our patterns (or tangles) to basic patterns from nature and many cultures from all over this world.
One of our contributions with Zentangle is to deconstruct patterns to their most basic parts (ideally three or less basic strokes) so that a self-described non-artist can recreate them through easy repetition within a predefined area -- and enjoy both process and result. This opens up possibilities of creative pleasure to almost anyone - many of whom long ago decided it was not possible for them - "I am not an artist," "I can't draw," etc.
So, while pattern drawing is not new, (we feel it's not the same as how many people understand "doodling"-- for instance Zentangle's tangles are not, as you say, "random," but very specific) our approach, or teaching method, has made the joys of putting pen to paper accessible to many people around this world -- like that 91 year lady from England -- who otherwise might not have experienced what you likely do every day.
Regarding "making money hand over fist," we find it interesting that in the few critical emails we do receive, they all have mentioned how much money we are supposedly making.
While each day offers an opportunity for us to learn something new, we respectfully disagree with your assertion that people who enjoy Zentangle are ignorant.
Every few months we'll get a message like yours, but I've got to say, yours is one of the best! We usually don't respond, but this is a good exercise and we look forward to the possibility of a reply.
Rick (and Maria)
My father grew up in an Amish home where musical instruments were forbidden. While I was yet in grade school, I would see him bring home from his monthly excursions to the local auction barn keyboard musical instruments; a bellows organ, an upright piano, or several accordions. I would marvel as in a few minutes he could teach himself to play familiar hymns as the family sang along. His method of teaching me to solve any problem was, “If you just look at it long enough, it will come to you." My brain was not wired like his. I never learned to play “by ear.”Last night I (Rick) learned a new word that applies to this conversation: "Syntropy." Syntropy (originally known as "negentropy") was renamed by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi and further popularized by Buckminster Fuller.
For certain gifted people no lessons are necessary to create art; not so for the general population. We need a way of learning to make art we enjoy. Zentangle makes that possible for us “one stroke at a time.”
From Syntropics® website:
Syntropy was described by Hungarian chemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winner, as a disposition toward elaboration in living things. The concept expresses the tendency of all organic matter to develop and unfold new qualities as it moves through time.We feel that Zentangle's approach triggers a Syntropic Cycle by which putting pen to paper becomes a new (or renewed) and joyful experience and an expanding and self-sustaining process. This is particularly impactful for people who perceive themselves as non-artists.
Syntropic Cycle: Writing in a 1983 Training magazine article, R. Mulligan, training coordinator for Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company in East Hampton, CT identified the concept of a Syntropic Cycle. As a trainer, Mulligan described this cycle in terms of the basic fundamental human drive to learn. He wrote:
“Like chemical reactions that need a primer to explode them into action, most students need a 'spark' to move them away from habitual indifference (a result of the opposing principle of 'entropy') and toward naturally self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling learning. A kind of "energy barrier" stands in the way."
Knowing that all students are disposed to enter a Syntropic Cycle of self-motivated learning if they can be triggered into action is a big help to trainers because joyful learning appears to be emotionally based. Emotions are accessible and susceptible to influence.”
There's another interesting tidbit of info in all this. Of the two writers of this type of email who made their identity known (including the above quoted one), both had college level art degrees. Not sure if there is a conclusion to "draw," but it was interesting.
We believe that Zentangle's accessible method and approach provides a confidence, structure and resulting joy that is fueling the expansion of so many online galleries of beautiful Zentangle creations. Just take a moment to search around online and you will appreciate the creativity that is blossoming and the fun that people are having.
We are so grateful to everyone who understands our passion and our intent. We also appreciate those who don't, because it makes this conversation possible.
If you are so inspired, we invite you to contribute to this conversation by commenting below. We'll forward a link to the person who originally wrote us.
Rick & Maria