Last night I visited the “Official Zentangle” website looking for a tangle pattern. Unlike a few years ago, when I first landed on the site, I don’t find it to be a creative repository any longer. I couldn’t find the pattern I was looking for – or any other patterns for that matter – using the search function. I ended up clicking through to their blog because I’ve been lucky in the past to find old posts about patterns there. What I found instead was something that confirmed my belief about the “we’re here to share the Zen gift we’ve created, with you” philosophy the “founders of Zentangle” are always spewing: It’s not a gift. It’s a business.
Instead of finding anything creative – that wasn’t for sale –, what piqued my interest was a recent blog post the self-titled “founders of Zentangle” have up on the site. In this particular post, they are publicly shaming and bullying someone for having a similar idea to their own that monetizes doodling. If you’re at all interested you can read the ridiculous nonsense that does little to veil their contempt for someone doing as they have, posted on their site by clicking this link to the post, which they actually titled “Seriously?…”
I can’t believe I’m investing any energy in this but, to start, I need to say that I find this situation the “founders of Zentangle” have posted about SHAMEFUL, on their part and on the part of their followers who are participating in the bullying. Second, the “founders of Zentangle” don’t have the right to decide who can or cannot anoint themselves as experts of doodling. Publicly shaming this woman (Ina Sonnenmoser) for trying to earn a living the way she chooses and encouraging members of your Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) clique to pile shame on her is not a flattering look for you, nor is it very Zen.
To the “founders of Zentangle” (Rick and Maria), I’d like to say, you’ve had a good run in your attempt to copyright and ritualize doodling. However, no one has a monopoly on doodling. I think you need a reminder that doodling has been around forever and a day. I agree that doodling can be meditative and I often write on my blog about using it to distract my focus from my chronic pain and I’ve also written about how I use objects I have available to do zentangle according to the way you’ve specified, which I view as an unnecessary limitation. If someone else has invested the time to come up with a way to monetize drawing lines on paper, more power to them. I’m certain there are many more people than Ina out there – including those whom you have anointed as experts in your method – doing the same.
I also have to call out Rick and Maria, for their blatant hypocrisy. For anyone reading my post who wants to see how ancient some of the patterns they claim to be their originally conceived patterns are, there are books available in the public domain from as early as the 17th century that show you the origins of all these patterns (see images of pages below). Look up topics such as decorative design, ornament, ancient ornament, nature in ornament, ornament from specific cultures, and pattern design. There are volumes of material available to learn how to create your own combination of patterns or how to develop them from things in your environment.
Moreover, how many times have Rick and Maria and members of their “CZT family” done what they call “deconstructing a pattern” from an object or artwork to create a tangle. They do this without a moment’s thought of giving credit to the craftspeople who worked tirelessly to create it in the first place. News flash, just because you change a few lines (as you point out to Ina) doesn’t make something original or yours.
As Rick said, sunshine is the best disinfectant. There’s nothing Zen about publicizing this feud. What you’ve shone a light on is the true motive behind Zentangle, which is the same as any business: Making lot$ of money. This is clearly visible in the redesign of your website that no longer shares much free information about how to draw the patterns, whereas, ironically Ina’s site does. You were just hoping your followers would continue to pay thousands of dollars to you, instead of another individual or company, every year to become certified in your “method” of doodling; and more importantly, that people would forever be blinded by your phony claim that you’re giving them a gift.
Finally, for all the Certified Zentangle Teachers and followers participating in bullying Ina Sonnenmoser, take a step back and seriously look at the toxic behaviour the founders of this supposed Zen method are encouraging and taking pleasure in you acting out to support them.
Note: In the comments, I’ve made some additional observations about the cost vs. the benefits of becoming a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT)