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Out of the Margins

While doodling in class is something all to familiar to us students, these two take it to a whole other level.

Jessica Chipley was in sixth or seventh grade when she started doodling in her notebook. Back then, she wasn’t so good at drawing. When she looks back at her old work, it’s to critique it for quality. Now, she doesn’t finish a doodle she isn’t pleased with.

As a sophomore Media major with a concentration in film and media studies, Jessica hopes to get into the movie screenwriting business. She’s from San Ramon, California, and her favorite movie genre is action, but she admits it isn’t easy to write action screenplays. Many of her drawings are actually condensed comics featuring characters she created.

“Most of my doodles are semi-concept art for stories that I have in my head or on my backburner,” she tells Inside.

Sometimes she uses her drawings to understand how characters interact. A lot of her skills are self-taught, but she says what it boils down to is understanding how the body works. In the past, art students have suggested she take a human anatomy class.

Unsure whether it stems from the amount of movies she’s watched (which is more than the average weekend-only movie watcher), she thinks her understanding of the characters’ physical interaction is more than sufficient.

Since many of her drawings end up as sketches for future cinematic projects, she likes to keep them separate from her class notes. She has a special notebook to channel her creativity, but sometimes there’s no time to wait, so she flips to a blank spot where her notes ended for the day.

She said she draws more in bigger lectures — which is disappointing because she doesn’t have many of those this semester.

“For the most part, I don’t like doodling on the same page I’m currently taking notes on. So when I start to doodle, I’ll usually flip to a page where the notes are already done.”

She’s never gotten into hot water with her drawings — not that she would expect to. Professors assume she’s taking notes, so even if they do see her lose focus, it’s better than getting caught on her phone.

Senior David Pecar doesn’t mind doodling in the margins of his notes. He has a separate notebook as well, but his drawings normally sprawl from one page to another. He’s been drawing for as long as he can remember. His thoughts wander if he doesn’t doodle.

“I wouldn’t even consider it to be art, what I’m doing,” he says. “It’s just really what my hand chooses to do.”

For David, the act of taking notes is enough to cement the information in his brain. He says he has trouble focusing when he doesn’t have a pen or pencil in hand, but he puts whatever he’s using down whenever he has to speak or participate. He doesn’t see his drawings as daydreaming, so interrupting them to raise his hand or participate isn’t a distraction.

“Most of my notes devolve into doodles pretty quickly.”

Unfortunately, David’s professors have commented on his in-class habits before, though the content of his doodles have gotten him into trouble at least once. In an episode reminiscent of a scene from the movie “Superbad,” he was caught in his sophomore year of high school drawing the words “Pen Island” comprised entirely of penises.

David studies journalism with a minor in marketing, and he says more than anything his studies have shaped his worldview. His next step will probably be attending law school. As to the question of whether he’ll doodle once he gets there?

“Oh, for sure,” he replies.