Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Zentangles© are not new...



"The kernel, the soul - let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances - is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them."

-Mark Twain (via Jonathan Lethem's essay, "The Ecstasy of Influence")


A recent comment to one of my posted drawings piqued my interest. The writer said that my work reminded her of her own work as a Zentangle© artists. I did a google search and was overwhelmed by the number hits!

To the untrained eye Zentangles appear to resemble my work. However, I am not a “Zentangle© artist. My work is a complex system of symbols that have taken years to amass. This “new art form” is covering the web with kudzu like speed and it is claiming that the  Zen like procedure is solving countless emotional and social problems. Like many pseudo sciences it is all based on anecdotal data.

Zentangles© are not new and similar drawing techniques like doodles and automatic writing have been studied and researched for years. Creative pattern making has been used by artists and art therapist for years. My own work had been developing for over fifty years. I have been making “doodles” and black and white symbolic drawings  since about 1961. I found no need to copyright my methods or work just like most artists through out history. My work and teaching methods have always been available to anyone who felt an  connection with my methods.

I find it incredulous that this method has been copyrighted and after reading the copyright notice it looks like  the “owners” are trying to corner the market and claim they own a “form of art” that is part of the human experience. Zentangles are just simple doodles that take their cues from Lascaux cave symbology,  Aboriginal art and artists like Miro, Klee and  Picasso.

I cannot understand copyrighting a teaching method; most teaching methods are shared and benefit everyone. However, the sad reality is that it is just another “home grown entrepreneurial idea” that has been seduced by its own literature. Another tell tale sign of it's vacuous nature is that it requires special training and materials, which are available at a nominal cost.

What is equally problematic is combining Zen philosophy with the doodle process; it does conjure up pseudo religious feeling.  Zen meditation require nothing more than silence and concentration.  Zen masters would find the doodling process the antithesis of true meditation.

Another layer to this already silly story is the out cry by NeoPopRealism. that Zentangle stole their idea in or about 1982. I find the whole sordid mess indicates that neither party is interested in producing meaningful art that has cultural significance. They are just interested in self- aggrandizement which has no place in personal expression.

I have no problem with any form of art. Creating art work is great for the individual and society.  My only complaint is that Zentangle© like promotions and infomercials belittle the true importance and meaning of fine art. Any attempt to commercialize the artistic process is a personal affront. Let's  have a reality check, doodling is a rewarding activity for anyone. It is easy and you do not need training or special materials.

Please don't sue me...I have used the © symbol.

Copyright 2012 © Ronald D. Isom, Sr.

More opinions and information:

Ripoff Report | Zentangle | Complaint Review: 814191

There's a Dragon in my Art Room: Zentangles? Nope, just doodles.

Art With Mr. E: Jumpin' on the Zentangle Bandwagon : 4th

Doodles and Zentangles

Zentangle stories at Techdirt.
"Does that really deserve a patent? Thankfully, it appears that the folks in the patent office aren't so sure it deserves a patent either. Looking through the transaction history, you see that patent examiners have rejected it eight times, with four of those being "final" rejections (and, no, the word "final" doesn't mean what it means in the rest of the world when it comes from the Patent Office where no rejection is ever final -- you can just keep trying). Hopefully this continues, but really, the amount of effort that's been put into "intellectual property" here seems to go way beyond what makes sense, and hardly seems to fit with the "zen" theme. Sure, a trademark could make sense if you're going to build a brand around the name (though, a common law trademark probably would have been just as effective), but a patent? Seriously?"


NeoPopRealism. Intellectual Property Theft: tomorrow it could be you - artreview.com

Famous authors doodles

Bored? Try Doodling To Keep The Brain On Task : NPR

Other forms of doodling:
 Asemic writing
Automatic writing
Drolleries
Graphology
Marginalia
Oekaki
Scribble
Stream of consciousness writing
Stick Figure
Ulam Spiral

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