Before I started the company that eventually became Sketch Group, I was working as a computer programmer. It paid well, but it wasn't fulfilling and felt a bit ... soulless. It also coincided with a period when I got sick a lot. Related? Perhaps.
A huge reason why we do what we do relates to the fact that drawing is good for you. The benefits of expressing yourself visually are extensive and well documented.
Art therapy uses different forms of visual expression to help improve physical, mental and emotional well-being by reducing anxiety, bringing in positive emotions and banishing negative ones. Drawing has also been shown to improve memory and recall in patients with Alzheimer’s. And adult colouring-in books continue to fill airport bookstores due to the role they play in reducing stress, increasing mindfulness and helping the brain reach a meditative state.
And of course, it's fun.
Even if you think "I can't draw," who hasn't laughed over a game of Pictionary when no-one can guess what has been created in thirty seconds? Was it a toilet? A throne? A pineapple?
When we're young, we draw and paint and create all the time. Visual expression comes naturally to us—it's free-form, and it flows naturally, without the worry of judgement or getting things wrong.
In a world where we're being encouraged to be innovative, to fail fast, and to take risks, we need to go back to those times when we were more experimental. Pick up a pen and just draw.
Who knows where it could lead?
Matt is Chief Doodler at Sketch Group. He has contributed to several books on visual thinking, most recently The World of Visual Facilitation.