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5 Sharpie Art Exercises with Timothy Goodman

by Emily Potts
art & design, featured

Sharpie art has a unique appeal and an ever-growing field of contributors. It tends to feel improvised and disruptive in the most pleasant way. If you’ve only ever used your sharpies for labeling CD-R’s and (accidentally) making notes on a whiteboard, we’re happy to tell you that there’s so much more to explore.


Sharpie Art Exercises from the Master

Timothy Goodman is a highly accomplished Sharpie artist whose new book, Sharpie Art Workshop (Rockport Publishers), offers lots of valuable ideas and techniques for anyone who has a Sharpie and a blank surface to draw on. In addition to his own work, he featured 22 artists from around the world who are making their marks with Sharpies and more. Below are five of his favorite sharpie art exercises from the book to help get you started on your Sharpie drawing kick.5 Sharpie Art Exercises with Timothy Goodman on CreativeLive


Sharpie Art Exercises - Mark Making

1. Mark Making

This is a simple exercise in doodling whatever you want. It’s all about getting the creative juices flowing and putting your Sharpie to paper. Goodman says, “I find it increasingly important for me to carry Sharpie markers and my notebook with me whenever I’m out, in case any ideas come to mind.


Sharpie Art Exercises - Patterns

2. Patterns

Anyone can create a pattern. There’s no real science to it, except to repeat a shape or decorative design in a pleasing format. Goodman notes, “The great thing about making a pattern is that you can literally turn anything into a pattern: objects, abstractions, animals, words, floral arrangements, shapes, hearts, food, etc.” And it can be done on any surface.

Sharpie Art Exercises - Lettering


3. Words of Wisdom

This is a simple sharpie art exercise that is great for anyone who’s trying to learn hand lettering. If you have a motto or phrase that inspires you, turn it into an illustration, or write it multiple times, each in a different way. Depending on how you illustrate it, it may alter the meaning of the phrase.

Sharpie Art Exercises - Words on Stuff

Chicago-based Adé Hogue created these objects for a personal project, “Letter on Me.”

4. Words on Objects

Everyone has stuff, more stuff than we need or want. Instead of throwing away an old pair of tennis shoes or a chair, turn it into an object of art by writing or drawing on it. As Goodman notes, “We collect stuff, buy stuff, steal stuff, trade stuff, and then throw stuff away. So what happens with all this old stuff? Is there a life after it leaves our hands?” He and Jessica Walsh turned this idea into a personal project and documented it on Quotes on Shit. They simply spray-painted old objects, then drew on them with a Sharpie. It’s fun stuff and you can get in on the action—they are soliciting your old, unwanted crap.

Sharpie Art Exercises - Itsy Bitsy

5. Itsy-Bitsy

Although Goodman is known for his large-scale murals, he loves to go small, too, drawing on mini-frames as small as 1 x 1 inches. These make great, customized gifts. He says, “I usually draw something unique about the person I’m giving it to. Sometimes, I hand letter their name or draw an inside joke between us or their favorite object.”

For more Sharpie art exercises and inspiration, be sure to pick up Timothy Goodman’s book: Sharpie Art Workshop.

Sharpie Art Exercises



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Emily Potts

Emily J. Potts has been a writer and editor in the design industry for more than 20 years. Currently she is an independent writer working for a variety of clients in the design industry.