Essays

budding

Why You Own an iPad and Still Can't Draw

The failure of drawing materials without mediums and meat

Assumed Audience

Anyone who thinks they can't draw, but would like to learn

They message me a lot.

Which iPad should I buy? What app do you use? What brush is that? What size should my canvas be?

These questions aren't wrong. In fact they're perfectly reasonable.

I'm vocal about the fact many of my illustrations are made on in an app called . I have a full post about my drawing equipment and workflows over at

How are you supposed to draw if you don't also have these fancy tools?

This is the tricky bit.

If you go out and buy yourself these same things, you'll have all the right materials to draw. But that's only the dressing on the drawing dish.

What you have is Material without the Medium or the Meat

What on earth do I mean by material, medium, and meat?


Moving past materials

Worrying about the materials should take up - at most - 10% of your attention and concern. Focus 70% of your attention on learning the medium while you're just starting out.

You can keep 20% of your focus on the Meat. But I wouldn't worry too much about communicating original, profound ideas at first. Doing so in addition to learning a whole new language is going to be overwhelming.

In the same way it's a bad idea to learn Spanish while simultaneously trying to write a philosophy dissertation in it.

Once you get more comfortable “speaking" in visual language, you'll be able to shift a much higher percentage of your attention onto the Meat. You'll get to focus on The Thing You Want to Say, and know enough visual language to say it well.

That's the ideal I'm currently striving for. To reach a point where the Material is irrelevant, the Medium is a baked into my subconscious, and I'm all about the Meat.

That's the goal. Don't let the shiny iPad reflection blind you.
Get past picking the Material. Focus on the Medium. Aim for the Meat.

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