By Oliver Scialdone
A young man who self-describes as an obsessive-compulsive doodler covers the walls of his parents’ home with drawings, and then when those walls cannot contain his art, he moves on to the streets, to shops, to his entire community, ready to doodle across the world. But when the Anti-Doodle Squad, a trio of looming figures in white hazmat suits and gas masks, all covered in doodles, decide to put an end to it all, the young man strikes a deal: he will go off to space and make a new home in the Paper Galaxy, a blank expanse where he can doodle into infinity. Here, he gives himself the name Mr Doodle and lives in bliss—that is until his evil twin brother, jealous of his artistic prowess, arrives in the Paper Galaxy via vortex and sends Mr Doodle back to Earth, where he trades drawings in hope that he’ll find a way back to his beloved space home. This is DoodleWorld, the brainchild of artist Sam Cox, who works professionally under the Mr Doodle moniker.
In one sense, Mr Doodle’s art consists of black line doodles on white backgrounds, rendered in a style he dubs “graffiti spaghetti,” featuring odd shapes and grinning characters packed closely together, forming the landscapes of the Paper Galaxy. The doodles can be found on walls, canvas, clothing, abandoned objects, on streets.
In another sense, the art is in the character of Mr Doodle and the very act of creating. In his mesmerizing live performances, Mr Doodle can spend hours upon hours working non-stop, inviting onlookers to observe as his characters burst across floor tiles and furniture. The style of the art and Mr Doodle’s desire to create “the feeling of pure happiness” with his performances have garnered Mr Doodle nearly three million Instagram followers and millions of Youtube views. To those not versed in internet culture, his popularity might seem very sudden, but for those who understand, the internet is an equalizer, the type of place where a street artist can skyrocket.
“By declaring Planet Earth as my canvas, everything becomes a possibility. Each wall, floor, canvas, vehicle, object, etc… and the documentation of me doodling it, is all part of the same story that I am continually building over time.”Mr Doodle
Though his doodles are tangible works of art, the narrative and performance aspects of his practice hybridize the real and the virtual. DoodleWorld ultimately exists in the realm of imagination and is then translated onto the page, and though art observers can watch Mr Doodle create in person, the production of his videos, the shots, the editing, the use of time-lapse, results in an entirely unique viewing experience only available online.
It isn’t surprising then that Mr Doodle would want to further explore the medium of digital art, especially as his work already stretches far beyond the traditional tools of drawing and painting. His latest artwork, “The Living Doodle,” will be released at auction as an NFT, and, consistent with the medium hybridity present in his work, the winning bidder will also receive the original canvas.
“When I first found out about NFTs,” Mr Doodle told SuperRare, “I didn’t understand what they were. But I took some time to look into them and I soon found that the possibilities were huge with this concept. I love to produce doodles on a mass scale, often spending full days doodling hundreds of characters, and the idea that all of this can be translated into a consumable digital media is so cool. I saw artists like Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami embracing NFTs and this inspired me to get involved as soon as I could.”
Though audio and motion are not new dimensions for Mr Doodle, with his video content utilizing sound for effect and not only time lapse, but the actual motion of the artist as he creates, “The Living Doodle” elevates those elements through the animation of his shapes and characters. “I’ve been particularly interested in animating my doodles as it is an area which I don’t feel I have explored enough. I feel NFTs are a great medium to do that with,” said Mr Doodle.
Just as the character of Mr Doodle wants to escape Earth and return to his home in the Paper Galaxy, the characters in “The Living Doodle” strive to break free from their spots on the canvas, seeking to sprawl out in the way Mr Doodle’s art sprawls out over surfaces and across mediums. For him, medium matters when considering how art observers interact with Doodle World: “I think one main difference with NFTs when compared to my other artworks in terms of how my audience will interact with them is that the piece itself isn’t tangible…I think this is different and connects with the idea of my work existing far away in space within DoodleWorld where no human can actually visit or see right now.”
Our real world is the canvas that hosts DoodleWorld. To some critics, the whole concept may seem silly, not nearly serious enough for the realm of art. But Mr Doodle isn’t bothered by that.
“What people perceive as art doesn’t matter. It only matters about what you like and how it makes you feel. I think more and more people are seeing things that aren’t considered gallery-worthy, yet are interested in them, perhaps more so than the work that actually does sit in a gallery.”Mr Doodle
While he acknowledges the merits of the fine art world, he adds that the fine art world “is being invaded and redefined by pranksters, graffiti writers, and doodlers who think art should be taken less seriously. Art should be about having fun. Isn’t that what everyone would want?” Ultimately, his art exists for joy, the elation he feels while creating, the happiness and energy that come from engaging with his work. To Mr Doodle, there is no better reason to create than simply for the sake of it, and that, more than anything, drives the connection between the artist and his audience.