Whiteboard Art: Who draws them and why?

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Kristian Martinez and friends leave drawings on the whiteboard at Lied Library. Photo by Annie Vong.

In the midst of frantic studying are goofy and intricate whiteboard drawings in Lied Library, which begs the question: who are the artists behind them? One of these whiteboards has Pickle Rick, an inside joke for Rick and Morty fans, an angry chef, and two characters from the hit television show and video game of the same name, “The Last of Us.” 

Graphic design student Kristian Martinez shares more behind the creation of the whiteboard drawings. Martinez is a graphic designer who jumps between cartoon and realistic styles of art, experimenting with all forms of art, from digital to traditional art on paper. 

Martinez shares, “That’s one of the things I really like about art in general. You can do whatever you want. You can go down in the details like I did or you can draw something that’ll make you smile. The possibilities are endless with what you can do and how you can do it.” 

Martinez says that he started drawing on the whiteboard to get away from drawing in the sketchbook and to test a medium that was unfamiliar to him. Martinez says, “Why a white board? One, it’s convenient. Two, I didn’t really feel like drawing in my sketchbook. Three, it’s something we can all do together. And four, it’s like it can be erased. It’s not permanent. There’s a beauty in it where it’s only a one-time thing. So of course you’ll have pieces displayed in museums for all of time. They’re amazing, but some of the best pieces of art are one-offs. ‘Oh, you have a really good idea? We’ll jot it down on a napkin and throw it away.’ Like, the initial sketches for [some] of the Pixar movies, [“A Bug’s Life,” WALL-E,” “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.”], the heads of that project were at a cafe and were like ‘Oh, I have an idea’ and drew it up on a napkin.”

Most art is made to be preserved — flash photography is banned to protect art from light, paintings reside in frames, and sculptures are not meant to be touched — and yet, despite this, some art is made with the knowledge that it will be erased. There exists a beauty in art that is fleeting; only a select few students at a select location, on a select day at a select time will ever be able to see it. Then, it is wiped from the board and never to be seen again. 

However, Martinez is not the first student to leave drawings on the library whiteboards and won’t be the last either. “I’m not the first one to do this. I have a couple friends that I did this with last year too. I’d like to shout them out because I’m not the only artist on campus. Niko, Aidan, Haru and Erin. They’re amazing talented artists, in a lot of ways, better than me, but if you see a whiteboard filled with a bunch of random drawings, it’s probably us,” Martinez jokes. 

Martinez’s art can be viewed on Instagram at @kristianmartinezarts.

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