Is it Dali, or is it Anon, age 3? Is it trippy, high-concept art, or just some toddler let loose with a crayon? The cacophony of lines, shapes, and colours in toddler art seem to defy all sense and logic. Rules truly don’t apply. A thing of wild beauty, really.
The little virtuosos don’t care about rules of composition, colour theory, or even staying within the lines. Physics? Whatever is that? They just let their imaginations run wild, and the result is something that is uniquely theirs.
Designers (even those out of pull-ups) can learn a thing or two from the friendly neighbourhood Terrible Two Terry.
Being a grown-up has its benefits. A full set of permanent teeth is nothing to sniff at, and a lot of times, you get to set your own bedtime! It’s the stuff of toddler dreams. We are the masters of our destiny (ha!) and the deciders of our own mealtimes.
Still, I’ve got to admit, being a toddler comes with a few not insignificant perks. You are ‘untrained’ and ‘unschooled’, and the imagination has no blinkers yet. The world is bright and shiny and full of wonder. Elephants can be pink and trees can be blue. Pigs literally can fly.
As designers, we can get so bogged down in the technicalities of the craft, that we forget to let loose and have fun. We worry whether our designs are ‘on brand’ or ‘on trend’ and whether it will please a client or impress a peer. It’s easy to fall into the trap of overthinking and overdesigning.
In comparison, the abstract drawing of a toddler is a testament to the power of simplicity. It can consist of nothing more than a few scribbles and dots, but still convey a sense of undeniable joy and whimsy. It’s not a dot, it’s the sun! The hands grow straight out of the head, but it’s still recognizably Mama! Proximity to toddler art reminds us that less is more. A simple, well-executed design can often be more impactful than something elaborate and overwrought.
Lastly, the drawings of toddlers remind is to embrace imperfection. Let’s face it, the little tykes aren’t exactly working with a steady hand or a keen eye for detail. But that’s what makes their art so charming. It may be imperfect, but also honest and authentic. The bold, unafraid strokes and at times absurdly out-of-place details can have a Rousseau-like naïve charm.
Those of us in the ‘creative’ professions often strive for perfection in our work. But as we know all too well, perfection is impossible to achieve. And that’s okay! Embracing imperfection can actually make our designs more relatable and human.
Toddler art might not win any awards for technical skill, but they have a lot to teach us about creativity, simplicity, and imperfection. So, the next time you find yourself struggling with a design project, take a cue from the little ones and just let loose. You might be surprised by what you come up with.