Saturday, April 26, 2014

Alison Hertz - Doodle Day

Alison Hertz
Today on my blog I'm interviewing Alison Hertz. She is the the creator of "Doodle Day". Alison posts a list of daily doodle prompts every month on her Facebook group. Members of this group then post their progress daily and there are some wonderful results.

It is very important that I make this post this week, because it is the last full week in April. Next Thursday starts the first anniversary event for Doodle Day (originally Doodle Day May) and I'm very excited to take part in this event. I will Tweet some reminders on (and before) Thursday so everyone can remember to join in the fun. You can check out the Facebook group here:

Dani: I think it would be nice to start out by talking about Doodle Day, so could you let us know how this all started?

Alison: I was inspired by Debbie Ohi’s fabulous daily doodles that she shares on Facebook so I started posting daily doodles of my own in October 2012. I continued to doodle each day and share my doodles when I participated in Linda Silvestri’s SkADaMo in November 2012. I had soo much fun creating these quick sketches that weren’t for editors, art directors or even for my portfolio that I continued to create a daily doodle everyday through December, January and all the way through April of 2013.

Doodle Day Badge
My children often gave me suggestions of things to doodle and on April 30th, my daughter who loves to draw and paint (then just 5 years old) asked me about my doodles during our drive to pre-school. Holding her pink sketchbook in her hands, she explained to me that she wanted to draw with me everyday in May and that she thought it would be fun if we could draw the same things. We decided to call it “Doodle Day May” and as she was getting out of the car, she said that I should “blog about it and invite our friends to doodle with us.” 

Well, I did blog about it and invite our friends that day and you can see that original post here: At 6am the next morning, I had received more than 60 emails from people all over the world who were interested in participating in Doodle Day May with us. I created a Facebook group page and posted a blog each day with a doodle prompt along with links and information about how to approach drawing that prompt. At the end of May, Doodle Day was about to end but the participants asked me to continue posting prompts. Doodle Day continued through June, July, August (dropped the “May” part of the name in there somewhere) and on through the rest of 2013 and into 2014. The Facebook group is now up to more than 250 members and there are many more doodlers who are not a part of Facebook who email me their doodles.

Dani: What is it that keeps you doing doodles every day?

Various Dog Poses
Alison: My drawing arm is permanently injured from a car accident years ago and the effort required to illustrate FLAP, my debut picture book, was very painful. Pain took the fun away from drawing for me and I vowed that in 2013, I was going to strengthen my arm and figure out a way to make illustrating fun again. Doodling everyday helped me figure out my style and change the way I draw so that I can sketch for longer periods of time without discomfort. Doodling is freeing and relaxing and fun – it is a way for me to express myself artistically without the fear of being judged, graded, or critiqued. Since doodles can take anywhere from a couple minutes to a half hour, I can always find time in a busy day to sketch the prompt of the day. Doodle Day participants are not required to use the prompts but they are there every day to inspire and challenge and to take the pressure away from staring at a blank page and wondering what to put on it.

Dani: Does your daughter still do doodles with you every day?

Alison: Erin draws every day and paints most days. She doesn't use the prompts much anymore because she finds inspiration in her own imagination, at school, and in her surroundings.

Dani: How easy is it to come up with so many illustration prompts?

Alison's Facebook Avatar
Alison: I came up with the daily prompts for the first few months of Doodle Day and in September last year, I created a Character Challenge within Doodle Day which was a month dedicated to working on drawing human characters in different age groups and understanding the subtle differences between them. After that, we (myself along with Doodle Day participants) came up with themes for each month and I posted a file in the group’s page so that other doodlers could add prompts to the list. November was Animals, December was A-Z Underwater/Ocean theme, etc…

Dani: You have some big changes this year for Doodle Day, what prompted these changes?

Alison: The changes to Doodle Day this year have been with our themes. At the end of last year, Doodlers expressed that they often focused on developing characters but gave little attention to the rest of the scene – to giving the character a location so the theme for January 2014 was Backgrounds and Scenes. Doodle Day participants have also expressed a desire to work on character consistency so we had only four prompts for February and we focused on a single character each day for a week at a time. We continue to doodle every day in Doodle Day but we are focusing the monthly themes on the specific needs and desires of what the participants want to work on. As always, though, doodlers are never required to use the prompts. They are there for inspiration and challenge but if someone is inspired by another subject, he or she is always welcome to doodle that and share it with the group.
Angry Faces

Dani: I hear that you have a book called FLAP could you tell us about your wonderful flying adventure?

Alison: I wrote and illustrated FLAP and was published through a traditional press in November 2012. The premise is that when Max and Katie decide to teach their little sister to fly, they quickly learn that telling her to flap just isn't enough. The story is an example of perseverance as the siblings try to figure out how to get their sister off the ground. FLAP is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, and on my website. I enjoy doing author/illustrator visits with libraries and schools as well as speaking to other groups about writing, illustrating, and not letting obstacles stand in the way of one’s goals.

Dani: Do you have any final inspirational words for all the doodlers out there?

Alison: Yes, Dani, here is a bit of what doodling has taught me. Drawing everyday is the best way to improve. Doodling without thinking that every drawing has portfolio potential opens doors to trying new media, playing with different styles, experimenting with both traditional and digital methods of drawing, etc… Don’t over think the subject matter – not every drawing has to be something concrete. Just put your pencil to the page and see where it goes.

Connect With Alison:
Twitter: @AlisonHertz 


  1. Alison has been such a wonderful leader and shining example for us in Doodle Day! I'm thrilled that she started this terrific group. Thanks for featuring her, Dani!

  2. I love Alison's concept of Doodle Day! Although I am doodle-challenged, I really enjoy seeing what the doodlers come up with. I've often thought the daily doodles could make good daily writing prompts along the same lines - write something quick and fun about the doodle, just to get the ideas flowing!