All About Zentangle (And How Anyone Can Do it!)

Challenge your inner artist with this creative method that’s all about gratitude and appreciation for your own artistic abilities (regardless of skill!).

By Jasmine Lim

Whether you're a professional artist or amateur notebook doodler, there’s always room to expand your creative abilities. (And it’s good for you, too!) So allow us to introduce you to our most recent obsession when it comes to getting artsy: The Zentangle Method. This method of drawing challenges anyone who puts pen to paper to step outside of their comfort zone. Through Zentangle, you may just discover an inner artist you never knew you had. (New year, new skills, right?!)

Zentangle is all about using a set eight specific steps to create your own art from start to finish. And the best part? It doesn’t require any artistic training. The method is about focusing on your creativity, owning your confidence, and appreciating your finished work no matter your skill set.
 

All About the Zentangle Method

Zentangle Method featuring an illustration of swirls, dots, and patterns.
Courtesy of Molly Hollibaugh / Zentangle, Inc.

When founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts started the Zentangle Method, they ultimately had one goal in mind: to help people discover their inner creativity through an easy-to-learn artistic method. Soon, they’d developed a community full of people passionate about encouraging others to become artists in whatever way felt most natural to them. (Now that’s an idea we can totally get behind!)

If you don’t consider drawing to be your strong suit, fear not! Our favorite thing about being creative is that you don’t have to be artistically blessed to do it. Even if you have self-doubts about your abilities, the Zentangle Method is truly all about having fun and relaxing without worrying about the finished product. 

So what is the Zentangle Method? It’s a structured method that involves eight simple steps: An artful guide, if you will, on how to approach and begin drawing patterns (called “tangles”) to create your own beautiful images. The idea is that by sitting in front of a blank piece of paper, the eight steps can ease the intimidation of drawing and help you gain the confidence to start. The method starts with gratitude and appreciation, then guides artists through drawing different design elements, and ends by showing appreciation again for the completed Zentangle art.
 

What Makes it Different?

Yes, Zentangle is one type of creative outlet, but it’s a bit different than others you might be used to. Take, for example, coloring. Coloring is a fairly collaborative process where it’s typical to color in a design drawn by someone else. The key difference between something like coloring and the Zentangle Method is the focus on original art created by you, the artist.

“The Zentangle Method is when you intentionally create your own art from start to finish with structured patterns, which is much different than coloring in someone else’s completed designs or doodling representational images [like words or smiley faces],” says Molly Hollibaugh, Zentangle Certified Teacher and Product Manager at Zentangle Inc.

One more clarification, too: Hollibaugh says that people often confuse Zentangle with doodling, but they’re not the same thing. The Zentangle method places emphasis on focused attention and deliberate strokes rather than absent-minded expressions often associated with doodling.
 

How to Get Started

Much like coloring, Zentangle can be a great way to spend time practicing self-care. By drawing, you can indulge in much needed “me time” and use this form of art to practice relaxation, imagination, and explore newfound confidence. 

Zentangle
Courtesy of Molly Hollibaugh / Zentangle, Inc.

The first step to creating any Zentangle is “Gratitude and Appreciation.” Think of this as a ceremonial step for yourself where you take a couple of moments to enter a space of artistic possibility. The methodology then guides you through adding specific design elements to your drawings (steps two through six). The most important thing to remember here is that there are no such things as “mistakes”—so even if you feel like you “messed up”, turn it into another opportunity and see where it takes you. Finally, you’ll initial or sign your piece of art and (most importantly) step back to appreciate the beautiful work of art you’ve created. This last step is perhaps the most important. It’s easy to let self-criticism get in the way but by practicing this method you learn to become proud of your artwork! (If you’re ready to start your first Zentangle now, check out the detailed steps and easy guide provided on Zentangle.com)

Oh, and don’t limit yourself once your Zentangle art is complete—if your first instinct is to give it a colorful finish (like ours was!), we totally encourage you to grab your favorite coloring tools and go to town.

With this fun technique, you’re fully equipped to create your own designs and discover your creative capabilities. If you’re eager to learn more about this creative outlet, Zentangle offers a number of certified teachers you can take a class with. All you have to do is check to see if there’s one in your area to get started.

Tags: Tips & Techniques