The Freeform Practice of Doodling With Dalton Stark

June 14, 2019 by Lauren Konopacki
The Freeform Practice of Doodling With Dalton Stark

Dalton Stark is a Doodle Daddy, Drawing Maniac, and Sticker Summoner based out of Katy, Texas whose doodles are born from a place of intuition, exploration, and flow. Equipped with a Patreon page and and online shop, he's got quite the subscriber base of people that simply can't get enough of his content. As far as his Doodle Addicts feed is concerned, we are absolutely obsessed with his post-it note doodles that feature one-of-a-kind characters and creatures.

Dalton Stark Doodles

Every piece is busy in the best way, filled with interesting characters and interactions to scroll through with a word bubble thrown in every now and then. Even the more focused pieces like his illustration of Mecha King Ghidorah, posted under the title, “My beloved king kaiju.” Here we got a Mecha King Ghidorah that both celebrates and eschews the cheesiness of the original. Stark’s version is like a Chinese dragon you’d see at a street festival, incorporating more traditional elements that make the character pop in a way that I’ve never really seen. A profile of Dalton Stark wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his penchant for absurdism. Some of his doodles are just like a toybox of doodles all put into one sketch and made to live and interact together in the same piece of art. An easy one to highlight is “Agent Pink Feather Strikes Back.” The piece features a warthog eating little pigs while saying, “Show me what it means to be eaten.” There are characters strewn all throughout the piece complete with a distressed woman with horns kneeling in the bottom right corner and through the middle of it all, at the left edge is a pink flaming, Agent Pink Feather I presume, wearing a sharp blue suit and skiing through the action exclaiming, “wa-hoo.” A lot of Dalton Stark’s work is of this nature, a collection of wildly imaginative images filled with odd quirks of humor. He put it best, it’s “imagination meditation.”  

Dalton Stark - Doodles

We decided to dig deeper and reach out to the man himself:

Interview with Doodler Dalton Stark

You have a very dynamic art style. Was your style always like this? How did it evolve?
I would definitely say one thing that has evolved most is my acceptance of the spectrum that my art exists along. I think the range of my art style is a result of me getting bored drawing one way for too long really. If I’m either just doodling all the time or just doing exclusively more sketched up work, I’ll find it to get quite stale without the input of the other. My art works from a kind of “Yin-Yang” place, where doodling is more of the side of chaos, emotion, and freedom, while my more sketched out drawings focus on order, structure, and form. I find the most interesting work comes from a place where the best aspects of both are at play together. Defining my “true art style” was a constant struggle for me, which I have come to dismiss the idea of. Just as I don’t think people have a “one true self” but instead various authentic forms, I do believe the case remains the same with my art.

What do you think makes doodling different from “art"?
I think doodling is a freeform practice that happens from a place of intuition, exploration and flow. Even the semantics of “doodling” vs “drawing” carry a much more playful weight, which I think is also what gives doodling its power. When I’m doodling with a pen, I’m just having fun without worrying about making mistakes. I find I love the doodles in my sketchbook because they simply are as they have became. They are very authentic in this way. Some don’t turn out quite as planned, or even something entirely different. And because of this they surprise me lead me interesting places I never would have consciously imagined! Doodling has taught me a lot about living life this way. Where life is a lot like a pen to paper doodle with no erasers, you just gotta follow your intuition, make some mistakes, have fun, and maybe even make some friends and have a laugh along the way. While I don’t always draw in this straight ink freestyle kind of way, I at least like to carry the philosophy over into the other areas of my creative work.

What do you get inspiration from? What drives you?
I’ve always been really drawn to character and creature design. When I was a kid I loved reading the bestiary sections in video game guide books to games I never even played. I’m a huge nerd for visual encyclopedias, monster manuals, field guides, and compendiums of curiosity. I’m a also big fan of prehistoric animals, sharks, dragons, and anime girls. I’ve always been really into “Mon” genres like Pokemon, Digimon, Yugioh, monster companions are definitely a deep love of mine. The more I draw my own characters, the more I’ve started to realize them as personas to parts of myself and the world around me. Characters in our media and cultures are essentially reflections of parts of our inner selves I believe on some level. As kids we take on the identities characters that inspire and empower us, and I’m trying to keep that alive in a way growing up with my own drawing. I like to imagine myself as a pen wielding summoner of sorts. Pixel art sprites are an aesthetic I’m very much about too. 

You have a very large social media following. What would you recommend other artists do to achieve a similar result?
While a good sized social media following has its perks, I definitely don’t think people should get that confused with success and ability. I know plenty of artists with humble followings out there killing it and making great stuff. How many people follow you is simply a metric to keep in mind. Ultimately there is an individual behind that username. They are not a number, they are a person just like you trying to navigate life the best way they may know how. Be human to your fellow online humans. So really I think the focus shouldn’t be on gathering a massive following, it should be connecting with individuals with your art.

When you are "stuck" in your creative process, what do you do to get you out of the funk?
Keeping yourself visually and creatively fed is so important. Getting some fresh air is always good place to start, I love going on long walks and do this quite often! If I’m feeling in a particularly funky mood I make a point to take myself on a little “artist dates” where I’ll go do something experience enriching like doodle at the park or a visit a museum or even take myself to a movie. Taking time to hang out with some friends, read a new manga, or play a video game can seem leisurely but it is just as important as the art making itself. It’s totally okay to take a break and come back later, which is a lesson i’ve only more recently become more comfortable with honestly! One of my favorite things to do in a funk too is grab a pad of sticky notes and call up a friend and just doodle while I’m talking to them on the phone. I find having my mind focused more the conversation rather than exactly what i’m drawing allows some space for those muses to slip on through.

What is a basic and advanced tip you'd have for someone who wants to improve their skills?
Keep a sketchbook, take it with you literally everywhere you go, and doodle in it often! Bonus points if you slap some cool stickers on it to enchant it with some creative arcane potential. Trouble getting into the mood? Slip into something more comfortable! I love wearing some sort special article of clothing while I draw like a kimono or a cowboy hat or even just some cool red sweat pants I got from Walmart! Dress up like someone that would exist in your art. Your studio space is super important too, decorate it well! I keep my favorite current visuals chaotically organized on my desk that I will constantly be scanning over and soaking in as I’m doodling. And don’t forget to change it up every now and then too! When we grow too used to our surroundings our very important visual awareness senses start to become dull to the usual settings, so adding and changing up elements to your doodle dojo can be really important. 

As far as doodling itself goes, I’m a huge advocate for straight ink free drawing and I think it is a really good practice in line confidence as well as learning to embrace your mistakes. Plus I find when I’m just drawing with pen I focus on what I’m doing more and embrace the nuances. One of my favorite things to do is bring a fold out chair and my sketchbook to the zoo and spend the day just drawing the animals there this way. The zoo is kind of depressing to just go look at tired animals, but its way better when you’re drawing them!

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