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Doodle Culture: What Your “Mindless” Drawings Say About You

3/19/2015

Doodling, though often looked down on as being a habit of the inattentive, is actually a great way to absorb additional information and to express those thoughts you can’t quite put words to.

At the 2011 TED Conference, Sunni Brown gave a talk on the positive effects that doodling can have on your memory, focus and creativity. Since that time, her words have formed something of a manifesto for doodlers around the world – those who think outside the margins and whose intelligence is often best expressed visually.

Beyond the simple act of doodling on a page, what you draw is thought to say a great deal about your personality. In much the same way that handwriting has been studied in order to discover a person’s innermost feelings, the field of “doodle analysis” is emerging to uncover the secrets behind the shapes you sketch. The idea is that when your mind is allowed to wander, the doodles you’ll unconsciously gravitate toward drawing will reveal your most intimate thoughts and desires.

Keeping in mind that these sorts of sciences are pseudo at best, grab a page of your doodles and see how they stack up against these generally agreed upon signifiers. Do you fit the doodle mould?

Page Placement

Top: You are strong-minded, assertive, confident and always in control (or at least, you want to be!).

Centre: You are extroverted and enjoy being the centre of attention (get it?).

Right: You long to travel or escape your current situation.

Left: You tend to dwell on the past and long for what once was.

Bottom: You are rather pessimistic, or at least perceived as being that way.

The Doodles

Animals: Quite simply, you like animals. But that’s not all! The characteristics of the animals you draw often reflect your own feelings about yourself (e.g., an elephant is powerful, a kitten is cute, a lion is brave).

Arrows: You are determined with a specific goal in mind.

Chains: You don’t need a psychology degree to realise chains represent feeling restricted.

Circles: The completed loop represents a desire to find unity and peace. It can also suggest that things in your life are coming together to form a whole.

Clouds: Daydreams and freedom are associated with these doodles, but if the clouds are stormy you may be feeling depressed or overwhelmed.

Eggs: A classic symbol of rebirth and new beginnings.

Eyes: The windows into your soul, big eyes indicate extroversion while small ones tend to be drawn by reserved individuals. However, if eyes dominate your doodles, you may be feeling watched or even a little bit paranoid.

Faces: It’s not faces so much as the expression on the faces that gives away how you’re feeling – often the mood of the character you draw reflects your own. Additionally, really funny-looking faces can indicate a desire for attention, while good-looking mugs suggest you see the good in others.

Flowers: As with faces, it’s the individual qualities of the flowers that matter. Soft petals indicate amiability while pointy petals suggest you put up a prickly exterior. Overall, flowers tend to represent our feminine sides, and a desire for growth and family.

Geometric Shapes: Drawing rectangles, squares or triangles indicates a rational state of mind and logical, analytic thought.

Hearts: Clearly, you’ve got romance on the mind.

Houses: A very common doodle indicating a need for security.

Lines: Look at the pressure with which the line has been drawn – the lighter the pressure, the more peaceful you’re feeling (meaning the heavier the line, the more aggression that is being worked out).

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Any mode of transportation indicates a desire to travel and physically be somewhere else.

Stars: The doodles of ambitious individuals, stars represent high hopes and optimism.

Zigzags: Another common doodle, zigzags indicate high energy and a desire to move things along.

*3D: Bonus points if your doodles are three-dimensional, as this means you’re able to see the full picture.


Beyond where and what you draw, there are numerous indicators that can be taken into account when analysing your doodles. The psychology of colour choice, for example, is a popular one that would definitely require a Design Story all its own to explore properly. What do you find yourself drawing most often? Do you think it actually reflects how you’re feeling, or are your doodles actually just mindless drawings? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook!