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Home > BLOG - Interview with The Oxford Doodle Club

BLOG - Interview with The Oxford Doodle Club

19th February 2020
BLOG - Interview with The Oxford Doodle Club
Broad Canvas

It's a familiar sight at galleries and museums to see someone, pencil in hand, glancing back and forth from a little black sketchbook to some ancient artefact or work of art. They scribble what they see before them for safekeeping or later reference, this scene is often accompanied by an interested onlooker or two. What is it that makes this pastime so pleasurable and intriguing? 

Not too long ago we found out about the awesome Oxford Doodle Club and the cool events they've been running at several of Oxford's top museums. The events are aimed at anyone with the slightest of interests in sketching and drawing with any level of ability. We got in contact with Mat and Laura from the Oxford Doodle Club and asked them some questions about what the club does and how you can get involved.

 

Tell us a little about yourselves and why the Oxford Doodle Club got started.

We’re 3 professional illustrators (Mat Roff, Laura Hope and Alex Moore - soon to be 4 with artist Jason Chester joining our team) who all wanted to get out of our studios, sketch more and meet people.  We are all freelancers and spend a lot of time on our own…   We all got to the point where we were becoming increasingly creatively ‘stuck’ and isolated so turned to online communities and connected with one another through those.

The idea came about in February 2019 when Mat went along to Geo Law's Doodle Club (Sheffield-based illustrator's monthly drawing meet up) and saw how fun and engaging his set up was. This inspired him to take the idea of a monthly meet up and customise it for Oxford.

Mat was already visiting a lot of the local museums by himself to sketch, so his idea was to take a solitary activity and open it up to other artists in the same position as us.

 

Who is the Oxford Doodle Club for?

It’s aimed at everyone.  We welcome all artistic abilities.  We wanted to create a club where other illustrators could connect but also somewhere that amateur artists and even people who’ve never drawn before felt welcome.  It’s important that illustrators don’t just talk to other illustrators, or amateur artists don’t just talk to amateur artists.  Meeting people from different walks of life is what helps to bring about new and exciting projects and ideas.

 

How important is it for Artists to meet with each other?

Vital – creativity doesn’t grow on its own.  You need to be around other people and their ideas, not just online but in person, so you can bounce off one another! Something someone says in a throw-away comment might just inspire your next masterpiece or feedback you get from a fellow artist could finally push forward a painting you’ve been struggling with for months.

What difficulties does a roaming doodler encounter when it comes to choosing the right art making materials? Are there any restrictions for certain venues?

Some of the venues we go to don’t allow wet materials, which can be hard for some artists who like to sketch in inks and watercolours…  Being a ‘roaming doodler’ also means that you have to be able to carry all your materials around with you, this means you’re restricted by the size of sketchbook and the amount of pencils/crayons/pens you can doodle with.  However, these restrictions can sometimes be a gift rather than a curse because they allow you to spend less time thinking about your materials, and more time drawing.  Also, it means trying out a new material which you’ve never used before!

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without?

Laura – I’m absolutely in love with brush pens and ProMarkers…  But I’ve recently really been enjoying drawing on my iPad in Procreate!  But there are so many colours and brushes to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming! 

Mat - Brush Pens too! 

When I was a student, one of the things I struggled with was being spontaneous and messy. My work was very controlled and lacked feeling, but as soon as I discovered the brush pen it gave me freedom to experiment with different line work even when using the same tool, and it really added character to my drawings.

 

What are your top 5 places to doodle in Oxford and why?

Laura – I’ve actually only recently moved to the area so I’m still discovering places…  I really enjoy drawing the statues in the Ashmolean and all the animals at the Natural History Museum…  Oh and all the buildings in Oxford are just so pretty, sometimes just being around those is enough.

Mat - All of the museums from Pitt to The Ash ... it's difficult to pick between them because they all have something unique to offer.

Ashmolean will always have a place in my heart personal because it's the place I visit the most, but you have Pitt Rivers, The Museum Of Natural History, Radcliffe Camera or just in a local cafe where I sketch quirky and interesting customers!

 

On your website you say that one of your goals is to help battle the rise in mental health issues, how can art and art making help with this?

One of the biggest reasons for setting up this club was to offer a space to connect, socialise and network in the local area.

It was key for us to have a purpose to these meetups, and though drawing is of course the main activity, the most rewarding part for us is seeing up to 20 people who had never met before, sitting together to draw and discuss their love for the same thing.

That was the most memorable part of the first meet up for us, that in the space of two hours connections had been formed and we had started a community.

Face-to-face meetups, having an event to look forward to once a month, and meeting people who share a similar interest to you can do wonders for your mental health, and it's not only helped the people who attend, but it's also had a positive impact on us as well.

What is the one artwork by another artist that you wish you had made and why?

You only need to look at the Oxford Doodle Club social media pages to think that!

I think from our meetups we've had some amazing artists such as Jason Chester, Joseph Wilkins, Yukina Tokumoto, Soni Speight, Hannah Clark - who's work you can check out on our socials - and each time we see a new perspective to the statues, buildings and displays that we've also drawn, it really encourages you to approach your art in a totally different way.

 

How can people find out more about the Oxford Doodle Club if they’d like to get involved? 

You can find all of the information about our meetups at www.oxforddoodleclub.com, and you can also book your place to the next meet up by clicking Tickets. We have new events going live very soon.

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