A Joy Project

Last spring, a class I was going to teach got cancelled because of a scheduling mixup. I got back six hours a week of teaching time, and I realized that six hours would soon get eaten up by something. So I blocked that time out for Joy.

I decided for one quarter, I’d work on something I didn’t need to do, I just wanted to do. It wouldn’t be part of my master strategy. It wouldn’t necessarily “monetize.” It had one job, to give me joy. Unsurprisingly, it started to sneak into the other corners of my life, evenings and early mornings. And it made me happy.

Working With Pictures a tiny book to teach you how to draw for work.

It’s a tiny book on drawing, designed to be a Scout Custom book. I’ll have copies at UX Week on Friday, after my talk, which I’ll sell for $10. It’s only 32 pages long, 3.5×5 inches. It is a TINY book. It is designed to go in a pocket, so you have it with you when you are bored.

Photo Aug 17, 9 48 05 AM size-WWWP

You can buy the paper version on Gumroad.

Here is the digital version. You can print it, and buy Scout Blank Notebooks for a do-it-yourself drawing kit. if you want to physical book and you aren’t at UX Week, email me and we’ll figure it out.

So … about the book…

I chose the project almost at random. I’d been teaching drawing as part of a entrepreneurship class I give at Stanford using Design Thinking approaches. I’d mashed up a bunch of stuff I’d learned from Dave Sibbert, Sunni Brown, Dave gray, and added my own tricks. I’d refined my method, teaching a two-hour version and a ten minute version, until it was quite good. One day a student asked me, is there a book on this kind of drawing? And I realized there really isn’t. I mean, I love Dave’s Marks and Meaning and Ed Emberly’s Make a World, but neither was the kind of simple how to my students needed, nor did they teach with work tasks like models and wireframes.

So I thought, I like to draw. Let me hand draw the entire thing. I learned so. damn. much. Like, I should never hand letter anything. I ended up making fonts based on my handwriting because I can’t write straight. And a stencils are fun.
IMG_1324 I also had an excuse to buy a LOT of drawing books, and I drew every night with a glass of wine, watching (listening to) TV. I’d make a plan: tonight was about lines, or squares or fonts. Then I’d draw for an hour or two. Although I was already pretty good at sketching, I started making leaps forward from sheer practice. It was hard not to revise all the early drawings. But i’d learned that students respond to good, but not great, drawings. The drawings should look to be in the realm of the possible.  Crude invites, polish repels.

But most of all, it made me happy.

I had a crazy vision of two tiny books, made by Scout. I thought, you’d get my book and a blank notebook (I HATE HATE HATE drawing in books. It just isn’t in me.) You could carry them together in a back jean pocket, and draw when you had spare time.

Making a book in only 32 pages 3.5×5 also taught me a lot. Every page is like a haiku. I had to think about what work was being done by the picture, and what work was being done by the words. They had to work as a team, which meant I really had to compose them together. I was constantly drawing, scanning, revising, drawing, scanning… you get the picture. 😛

The complexities of getting them printed by Scout, then warehoused by Amazon Advantage, however, means I’m not sure I’ll sell them widely in this current form. If you really want one, email me and I’ll sell you one (or find me at a conference.) I am considering making them larger and selling via Createspace. Though that’s not the original vision, it would let me add more  images and instructions. So we shall see… your feedback will inform my decisions.

That, and if I need more joy.


Let’s be honest, who couldn’t?