Photo via School of Doodle/Vimeo (CC-BY)
Molly Logan is no longer a teenager. But she still believes teenage girls are incredible forces of creativity; they should not be restrained. “I really don’t like being told no,” Logan told the Daily Dot. “I don’t think anyone does. If it’s not a justified 'no,' it doesn’t work.”
This is why she has launched School of Doodle, a new online artistic community by and for teenage girls. Unlike most schools, Doodle is free of classrooms and formal training. Instead, the site is a beautiful experiment in organized chaos.
Scroll through, and neon-pink and striped stickers beckon you to click on advice about writing song lyrics from Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, or about inspiration from Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead. But posts aren't meant to be authoritative or top-down; the site is a space where peer work and diverse challenges get members' creative juices flowing, too.Anyone female-identifying and between the ages of 13 to 19 can join Doodle. From there, they are given a “locker” space, where they can upload and share images that inspire, as well as their own work, like "face collages," letters, and videos. Users receive a three-month membership, which can then be renewed by the Doodle community.
Since launching the Kickstarter for School of Doodle in 2014, the site’s team has grown to include 80 teen ambassadors, who advise "on all things Doodle," plus six teen editors, and 32 teen content creators from around the world. The result is a digital world where girls literally rule the school, and where lockers are brimming with thoughtful musings, completed illustrations, and works-in-progress for anyone online to check out.
Logan, who grew up in the pre-Internet era, said that when she was a teenager, she wasn't always encouraged, nor did she have the outlets, to pursue her ideas. “I wanted to publish a book when I was, like, 16 and my parents said no," she said. "And I didn’t have resources. There was no blogging [back then].”
Five years ago, Logan found herself mentoring teens in New York City’s Lower East Side. She was also an experienced curator who had worked with artists to make their creative visions a reality. She loved seeing their process on display and imagined what it would have been like to have front-row access to such a thing as a teen.
"I wondered, 'Why isn’t technology being used for creativity?'" said Logan.
Hence the idea for the School of Doodle was born. But according to Logan, it truly blossomed after the success of its Kickstarter campaign. Girls from all over the world reached out, eager to get involved.
"The first email came from a girl in the U.K., and then it was Morocco, and then South Korea," said Logan. "One girl started out so shy, and now it’s like, 'I can’t turn off the faucet. I cannot keep up.' And they’re all amazing ideas!"
There is also a cool, earnest feel to the site. The design evokes the bright-pop aesthetic of alt-girl resources Rookie and Sassy magazine, with the simplicity of slam books from the '80s and '90s. The result is vibrant but never overwhelming, with an interface that's highly engaging.
As I clicked around the world of Doodle, I fell in love with the first Doodle challenge, "An Interview With My Insecurity," from artist-author-actor Miranda July. July shares her own writing from when she was just 17 years old, in which she decided to sit down and have it out with her insecurity. July's writing is funny but tender, easy to access but punk at heart.In response, Doodlers are prompted to write and share their own interviews with their insecurity. Once uploaded, their posts sit alongside July's writing, available for visitors to read, click through, and possibly take comfort in.
When I revisited the site days after reading the task, I was amazed at the wealth of new writing that had cropped up.
User thisiseesha responded, "I was a little weird about posting this, but I think it's better for me to come to terms with it." In her touching interview, instead of lashing out, she timidly confesses that she might be better off if her insecurity would just, well, disappear.
Much of the work and writing on Doodle is steeped in strength and diversity: from Anna Sui's narrative of rising to fashion success because of her youthful obsession with New York City, to the bandmates of THEESatisfaction sharing the daily challenges of collaboration.
What's truly amazing about School of Doodle is how quickly it takes a visionary daydream to a tangible reality, all while encouraging girls to get lost in the process. In this way, School of Doodle shows its users just how possible it is share work as an artist in the digital age.
"What's really important to me is we’re not there to try to get girls to come in and kind of just stay there," said Logan. "We want them to come in and...get inspired. And then go out and find more inspiration."