If you’re in Austin, Texas, don’t be surprised if Carin Channing introduces herself to you, and then asks you to doodle with her. She is the creator of “Doodling with Strangers,” part of her Doodle Outreach — a mission to “help others discover the joys of being creative every day.” Carin boldly approaches *gasp* unfamiliar folks, armed with pen and paper and doodle prompts at the ready. Watch as they doodle together!
Recently, Carin has also added the title “author” to her name. Her 365 Days of Doodling: Discovering the Joys of Being Creative Every Day is now available online. We invited doodlevangelist Carin Channing to chat with us about her Doodle Outreach, and she accepted!
How did you come up with this idea to approach strangers and draw with them?
In the spring of 2014, I was feeling some frustration at wanting to share doodling with the world, but I wasn’t reaching beyond my immediate circle. I went to see Joe Cross (aka Joe the Juicer, of the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead) who was in my town on a book tour. I told him that I wanted to be to rest and creativity what he is to juicing. He helped me make a few key decisions on the spot, and he suggested that I start taking paper to restaurants and to inviting people to doodle and then have someone film their responses. A few days later I was doodling at a juice stand, and I saw some people who seemed potentially willing. I approached them, and Doodling with Strangers was born.
Is it challenging to get people to feel comfortable to do this with you and agree to appear on camera? How do you get the courage to approach strangers? Was this initially hard?
Even though I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done this, I still feel a little funny if someone declines to doodle. It’s like I can’t comprehend that someone wouldn’t want to doodle, and I feel a little bit exposed. I usually remedy that by finding someone else to doodle with right away.
I usually say to people, “Hey, do you want to do something fun while you’re waiting for your drink (or whatever’s going on)?” Sometimes I flash the crayons. That usually gets people to participate pretty quickly. I sometimes feel a little awkward asking if they’d be up for making a little video, but I’m getting more used to that. And no one has ever declined to make the video.
I’m not shy, so approaching strangers is pretty easy for me. I also try to size up the people I approach before I move in. It’s not totally random, and I’m pretty good at guessing. Plus, I know that I’m bringing something that is highly likely to cause benefit in the moment, so that gives me confidence. I can remember once in a bookstore, I really had to muster the courage to ask someone because I had to interrupt what he was doing (he wasn’t just waiting for a chai at Starbucks, he was looking at books). But it went great!
What is your motivation or mantra for doodling with strangers? What do you hope to gain from this experience?
The Doodle Outreach mantra is “Connecting the world through simple creativity,” and my personal tagline is “Helping people discover the joys of being creative every day.” I’m motivated by how good it makes me feel. It raises my energy on the spot when I interact with people in this unexpected way; that also yields fresh, original art. I’m also motivated by benefit to the strangers: they get to relax, have fun, connect deeply, take a break from their phones, do something unexpected, open up the creative channels of the brain, and have a nice, organic interaction.
Lucky for me, what I hope to gain is starting to happen. I’ve craved more non-technology interactions, and I always want to create. Doodling is such a quick and easy way to keep the creative juices flowing without any seriousness or significance around it. I make tons of stick figures! I meet lots of people I never would have talked with otherwise. To really have this movement spread, these are the kinds of ripple-creating actions that are vital. I want to doodle with everyone! I also love the magic and the unknown of it. I never know what kinds of people I’ll meet or what connections will unfold from there.
Please complete this sentence: I like to draw ____.
My little meditating chick — she’s my resting mascot.
Carin has actually doodled with us too (here and here)! We love her enthusiasm and bright spirit, and are so happy to have her on our blog! Check out her doodling adventures here. And doodle with her on our Weekly Doodle Challenge.
All images courtesy of Carin Channing.