Profile: Band of Doodlers

Published on 2 March 2015

Watch out! A band of marker-wielding artists are on a mission to rid our city of blank spaces.

BY pamela ho

“The very stringent criteria every member needs to fulfil is to be able to hold a marker and have an interest in drawing,” says Mas Shafreen, founder of Band of Doodlers, an illustration collective that imposes upon itself the duty to fill blank spaces with art.

“Simply put, doodling is idle drawing,” Mas explains. “It’s drawing whatever you can think of, or better yet, don’t think. Most of us tend to find doodling difficult because we overthink it. Actually, we do our best doodling when we are battling boredom!”

Mas established the Band of Doodlers in 2013 after several years of being a mentor with Noise Singapore, a National Arts Council initiative that gives budding talents an opportunity to learn from industry practitioners. “I thought it would be good to have a platform for my mentees to interact more.”

Serendipity came by way of a friend who owns FLABSLAB, a multi-disciplinary platform that brings together artists and designers. “He offered his studio space for us to conduct our meet-ups and drawing sessions. Before we knew it, friends of friends started joining us, and then we were drawing on his studio walls!”

The group currently has over 170 members, many of whom are art and design students or graduates. “We have non-artist types too: a child therapist, medical undergraduate and corporates,” reveals Mas, a freelance illustrator whose day job involves overseeing public engagement in a government agency.

Within a year, this merry Band of Doodlers have completed over 50 gigs: from customising coffee tumblers for Starbucks, to doing live draws at the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix and Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention.

And there are even more exciting plans lined up for 2015, including a record-breaking stint that involves a banner spanning almost five storeys!

Isn’t it unnerving, though, to draw on walls with permanent markers, without a means of erasing mistakes? “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not likely to make anything,” Mas reasons. “So I usually encourage everyone to seize mistakes from others as opportunities, to convert those doodles to something else.”

Apart from live-drawing events, the Doodlers also conduct workshops for schools, public libraries and disadvantaged children, as well as bespoke programmes for businesses.

But more meaningful than these are the friendships forged. “My intention from the start was to create an inclusive platform to promote collaboration and co-creation,” Mas shares. “So most heart-warming for me is that the Doodlers have grown into friends for life.”

Find out more about the Band of Doodlers at www.bandofdoodlers.com.

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