TEDxPeachtree is proud to show off its official t-shirt available to all attendees this year. The doodle was created by David Cohen, the official TEDxPeachtree Doodler. How did we get a doodler? Here’s the story from the doodler himself:
It all started with oversleeping.
It was the morning of TEDxPeachtree 2010 and I was running late trying to bring up the address for the event on my computer. Of course my tardy need-for-speed situation was not aided by the fact that my desk and computer keyboard were in a state of chaos. A riot of color actually. You see I was several months into an art project to complete 1000 doodles by the goal date of April 15, 2011 (I made it by the way). So my never-tidy desk was now pulling double duty as my doodle art studio. Nonetheless I typed in the URL for TEDxPeachtree being careful not to disturb the teetering piles of doodle-covered index cards or the avalanche-waiting-to-happen that was my collection of magic markers. As I waited for my printer to spit out the Google map, a thought occurred to me – why not do some doodling at the event? After all, I needed to sustain a pace of approximately four new drawings a day in order to reach my 1000 doodle goal and it struck me that making doodles based on the talks would be sort of a TEDxish thing to do. So along with the directions I grabbed a handful of markers and a small stack of 4×6 inch blank index cards and dashed out the door in time to have entirely missed the first session.
Then the butterflies came.
It’s one thing for a grown man to draw incredibly whimsical and silly doodles of bunnies, birdies and such in the privacy of his own home, but to trot right out there in public with an unsheathed Sharpie was another matter entirely. I found myself an empty corner toward the back of the auditorium and settled my nerves by starting to draw. And listen. And draw. And write words and drop markers and draw some more. I found a flow with a blend of sound bites and, for want of a better term, idea bites that came across from the speakers as they shared their passion, wisdom and magic with the crowd. It was a rush, and a bit of a frantic exercise – a TEDx talk isn’t very long and to try to capture the feel of a talk and make a quasi-doodle-caricature (technical term) of a speaker in the allotted time doesn’t leave much room for second guessing or editing. But I think the “it is what is” factor was part of the appeal for me.
So that’s how the ball got going – an unplanned, spur of the moment decision to out myself as a doodler. Not a visual notetaker, or a graphic facilitator, but an artist using an arguably capricious idiom of expression to try to capture a few memories as they formed with all the sense of wonder and delight that I think makes the TED experience so amazing. You can take a peek at the results here: http://davidscohen.posterous.com/tag/tedxpeachtree
I showed my drawings fresh from the marker to a few folks and they all loved them. One person tossed out the idea of shifting my role from impromptu & introverted scribbler to official artist/doodler for this year’s event. I was thrilled at just the thought and it was earlier this year while discussing the details that the idea of also making a shirt came up.
I love the theme of Breakthrough that was chosen for this year and I immediately had a few ideas for how I might approach bringing that concept into the whimsical world of my drawings.
I have a very literal streak and my first drawings were of brick walls being smashed, glass ceilings being shattered, bricks thrown through windows – all literal breakthroughs, but they were all a bit too fussy. I wanted the design to pop boldly on the shirt, a visual idea that could be understood from across the room, but would also offer more nuance up close.
My next few drawings brought in some of the animals that always populate my doodles. I drew a bunny leaping upward breaking through a ceiling, made in sparse thick lines of black magic marker. I liked the idea of the fragile creature so determined to make a breakthrough that it would power through such a strong barrier. But the horizontal arrangement didn’t feel right for a shirt and the bunny made it a little too comical for the theme.
I then made some sketches with birds flying through walls – I liked this motion better, the sideways flight, the same determination and fragility to the bird, and there was something about the idea of breaking the wall. Not just punching hole in it, but coming at it just right with enough force and will to shatter the obstacle. Somehow that felt more in keeping with the topics the speakers are bringing to TEDxPeachtree 2011.
To succeed in smashing that wall, that bird couldn’t just casually fly up to it – it had to train, plan its course, steel its resolve, and execute (with panache) – only then would the barrier fall.
So now it was a question of layering meaning on the design. What did the wall represent? Why was the bird so keen on breaking through? In the end I had two variations on the concept one placing the emphasis on the moment of breakthrough, smashing the wall built of negativity and constraint, and the other design presenting also the destination, the place of hope, redemption, love and virtue that I think so many who share a love for TED seek to find and nurture in our world. I hope you enjoy the shirts and I hope you’ll say hello between sessions – I’ll be easy to spot, just look for the guy with a fistful of markers.
About David Cohen
TEDxPeachtree’s first official artist is also a marketing coach and brand therapist. With a background in Math and Art, David’s approach is both left-brained and right-brained as he helps business owners to find authenticity in their branding. He believes that the strongest small businesses trust and live by the inner compass built from their core values. He also believes that being successful means being yourself. Find out more about David by visiting http://www.equationarts.com or by tuning into his podcast “The Be a Beacon Show” at http://blogtalkradio.com/david-cohen.