Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Critical Thinking & My Line In The Sand: The Common Sense Census: Media Use By Tweens & Teens

instagram collage c. Cynthia Jabar 2015 @NycBooknerd
 Even though I live with teens, the 2015 Common Sense Census stats (see infographic below) for media use by tween & teens are blowing my mind. I wonder what spending so much time on screens does to a teen's ability to develop critical thinking skills? We know that getting more done by multi-tasking is a myth. Scientists have even found that frequent multi-taskers use their brain less efficiently. Uh-oh.

It's not just about our kids either, I wonder about my own screen time & critical thinking skills too. Where's my responsibility in all this? As an artist, using the computer more and more, I notice how different it feels when I make marks with my hands vs the computer (even when I use a digital pen.) It just isn't the same, there's something special about paper and pencil. Maria Konnikova writes in a New York Times article: "psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep."
I wonder what's being lost or underdeveloped in us? What's all this screen time doing to the quality of our hearts & minds? In response to this data, I've drawn a line in the sand because I feel RIGHT NOW IS THE BEST TIME to make a mindful commitment. If not now, when? Media consumption isn't slowing down. I feel an overwhelming need to respond. To create more analog experiences with my nieces that bridge their online & offline worlds, to play, make & recycle more things & talk about what a sustainable planet looks like. I'm going to slow down even more, simplify more and hope they follow along - even just a little.  I owe it to them.

I know critical thinking is an important 21st century skill they need to not only survive but thrive & create a better world. Our kids are the future stewards of our planet. They will have to tackle all the problems we leave them - complicated ones like climate change, racism, mass migration and water shortages to name a few. We owe it to them. They need critical thinking skills.
But HOW can we create a more sustainable & just world if we are BUSY diminishing our own critical thinking skills with an over abundance of screen time? 

I realize the short answer is always balance, but what does balance look like when "multi-tasking is the new norm?"
"Condition Unacceptable!" to quote the Earl of Lemongrab from Adventure Time.

So here it is, my tiny line in the sand - I'm making it with handmade stamps, recycled paper, pixels and pen and sharing it right here, starting now. Who's with me?

Make a recycled Lab Notebook or Sketchbook c. Cynthia Jabar 2015
 Join me on twitter, @cynthiajabar & let's talk about it & share resources or come make something with us on instagram @NycbookNerd . Let's make a better planet.


Friday, September 25, 2015

#GirlPower: Jessica Hische, Self Proclaimed Type Nerd

"You have to learn the tools to make cool stuff." - Jessica Hische

Stumbled upon these great thoughts from illustrator & type designer Jessica Hische (2012!) about why it's important to learn how to code. Total #GIRLPOWER. Love her work & delivery.

  • In Progress, See Inside a Lettering Artist's Sketchbook and Process from Pencil to Vector

Monday, September 21, 2015

Making Picture Books: Christian Robinson's Joy

I absolutely adore this animated piece, What Is Music? from picture book artist & animator Christian Robinson. The timing of the children's voices paired with vibrant illustration stills, questions, simple animated Gif-like movements & photographs is a grand lesson in the value of LESS IS MORE. So much heart & depth packed into this deceptively simple piece. WOW. BRAVO.

What is Music? from Christian Robinson on Vimeo.

His award winning picture books are filled with the joy and curiosity of childhood. A few of my favorites include:

Harlem's Little Blackbird Story by Renee Watson & Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Cover Illustration, Harlem's Little Blackbird c. 2015 Christian Robinson

Interior Illustration, Harlem's Little Blackbird c 2015 Christian Robinson
Rain! Story by Linda Ashman & Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Cover Illustration, Rain! c. 2015 Christian Robinson

 Last Stop On Market Street Story by Matt DePena & Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Cover Illustration, Last Stop On Market Street c. 2015 Christian Robinson
Read more about award winning picture book author & illustrator Christian Robinson here.

I hope you enjoyed reading my #PictureBookNotes, join me on twitter: @cynthiajabar & instagram: @NycBookNerd for more bookish inspiration & goodness.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Animation: Les Poings Sur Les Iles

What lovely illustration & animation!

'Les poings sur les iles' For CJ animation
Text Elise fontenaille
Illustration Violeta lopiz
Directed by LuBing
Animated by LuBing, Kang Suhyun, Kim Soyoung, Lee Minhwee
Sound effect Lee Sungrok
Music by Lee Taehoon
Voice of Han Gil
Script by Kwon Seulki
Picture book coodinator Choun Sanghyun
Translator Kim Sangyoon
_CJ Culture Foundation
Les poings sur les iles Spanish subtitled from LUBING on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Adult Coloring Books Are Popular, But Why?

Part of my daily doodle exercise. Illustration c. Cynthia Jabar 2015
In May while skimming the #BEA15 hashtag, I read a tweet from Jane Friedman saying coloring books were wildly popular.
She sounded puzzled.
I wanted to tweet back to her in caps: I KNOW WHY, but my manners kicked in.

But I do know why: R E L A X A T I O N. It's something we need to cultivate in our fast paced digital lives. I get to draw everyday as part of my job so I know how meditative drawing can be. But it appears I'm not alone.

The Boston Globe reports that coloring books are flying off the shelves and are among the top sellers at Amazon & Barnes & Noble. Five of the top 30 titles on Amazon's best seller list are coloring books aimed at adults.

Sarah Deaver, president of the American Art Therapy Association says, " I think it probably speaks to people's enjoyment in doing this kind of relaxing hobby or distraction from everyday life."

Coloring books have always been around but I think publishers started paying attention when Taro Gomi's coloring books landed here from Japan and started selling and fueling the doodle book explosion for kids. He is the DOODLE BOOK KING in my humble opinion. His books are fun & sophisticated - and kids LOVE them! I like giving this one away: The Grumpy Doodle Book, it always gets a good chuckle.

I joined the craze with a doodle picture book hybrid I illustrated called Hello My New Baby written by Leslie Kimmelman and published by Blue Apple Books.

 It looks like this stress relieving trend is here to stay- at least until the next one emerges.

So grab some markers, put on some music, chill out & color with a few friends, you've got so many great illustration choices!

Here's a Few Awesome Ones To get You Started


The Indie Rock Coloring Book  (2009) by Yellow Bird Project & Andy J. Miller.

Just Add Color: Folk Art: 30 Original Illustrations To Color, Customize & Hang (2014) by artist Lisa Congdon.

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book (2013) by Johanna Basford (over 1 million copies sold- she's working on her 3rd book,) published by Laurence King


CNN: Adult Coloring Books Topping Best Seller Lists
The Guardian: I'm A Grown-Up, But I Still Love Colouring Books by Matt Cain
The Guardian: Colouring In Can Free Your Mind. Let's Learn How To Play Again by Philippa Perry
New York Times: Grown-Ups Get Out Their Crayons by Alexandra Alter
The Boston Globe: Coloring Books For dults Are Flying Off Shelves by Dugan Arnett
The Huffington Post: Coloring Isn't Just For Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Cope With Stress


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Drawing, Doodling & Writing On Paper Builds Creative Thinking Skills

All kinds of makers & children instinctively know this to be true: there is something satisfying about putting pen to paper and making marks.
Drawing, doodling and writing can be a joyful meditative exercise in letting the mind roam. A way to be mindful and slow down. Connect. It's also a cornerstone to what John Debes termed in 1969 as visual literacy, an important 21st century skill kids need.

Therefore I wasn't surprised when I read this article about how "in a digital chapter, paper notebooks are as relevant as ever."A few interesting facts I discovered:
"The Italian company that makes Moleskines — all 500 versions — is red hot, consistently recording double-digit sales growth. Oddly enough, the analog company's success has grown in tandem with the digital revolution. In fact, when conducting market research, the company detected something even more perplexing: a direct correlation between sales of its little black notebooks and proximity to an Apple store."
 In a recent study:
"The students who used paper scored significantly higher than those who used laptops. Mueller attributes this unexpected finding — published in the journal, Psychological Science — to the fact that the "analog" note takers were forced to synthesize rather than merely transcribe. It's a phenomenon known as "desirable difficulty."
"Desirable difficulty is some small roadblock that is in your path that actually improves your understanding of a topic."
Drawing actually builds creative design thinking skills we need to solve the world's problems. Just ask a working artist, architect, designer or engineer how important drawing is to their work.

But the great thing about drawing is you don't have to be  professional to enjoy it! A box of crayons and sheet of paper will do the trick. I recently read the smell of crayons can reduce stress.  I haven't see any science to back it up, but I don't think it really matters to my niece.

How has drawing made your life richer?


Here's a link to the paper: The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard by Pam A Mueller & Daniel M. Oppenheimer.
The Big Draw, The World's Biggest Drawing Festival, UK (RAD!)
Draw Yourself Happy: Drawing, Creativity + Your Brain
This is Your Brain On Writing, The New York Times 
Artistic Creativity & The Brain, Essays On Science & Society
How Arts Develop The Young Brain

I hope you enjoyed my notes.
Join me on twitter: @cynthiajabar

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mary Oliver On Writing Poetry & Listening To The World

A wonderfully inspiring interview.
"What is is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life. - Mary Oliver

"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing." - On Being with Krista Tippett

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver

Dream Work

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Amy Jo Kim: The Co-op Revolution, 5 Tips For Designing Collaboration

With a background in neuroscience, computer science & psychology, Amy Jo Kim, part game designer part web community architect, shares her experience designing for collaboration.
  1. Compete with the System
  2.  Shared Resource, Outcomes & Goals
  3. Inter - dependent Roles
  4. Cooperative Social Gestures
  5. Non-Zero Stats & Spotlights
She sees designing for collaboration as an emerging trend & "relevant to anyone designing digital experiences of any kind."
MFW15 - Amy Jo Kim from iMMovator on Vimeo.

Disruption and user generated content #UGC is everywhere - she brings up some great questions & considerations we can ask ourselves before creating experiences for people formerly known as the audience- no matter what industry we work in.

Thanks for reading my notebook. Say hello twitter: @cynthiajabar

Monday, August 4, 2014


Maine Lake jump with nieces & nephews. ; )
 I hope you're enjoying your summer! Be back late August with my #MakerParty hoopla!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Digital Moms + Brands, Do They Still Rule?

Kidscreen Magazine: iKids Winter 2014, Volume 3 issue 1
Looks like a yes. According to BSM Media they spent $2.25 trillion in 2013. Social Moms ages 18 to 49 spend 43% more on health & beauty, 61% more on apparel, 82% more on toys & games and 96% more on food & beverage.
You can read the whole article here on the iKids magazine produced by Kidscreen. Go MOMS!

Marketing To Moms Online: Digital Habits & Behaviors
Study Reveals Technology Habits of Moms, BSM Media
Marketing To Moms Coalition

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Streamschool: Poetry + Animation

Poem & Illustration by Rosie, age 6
April is National Poetry Month. We don't get enough poetry in our lives do we?  I know I don't. Reading & writing poetry together with kids help build  creative thinking & literacy skills. In The Atlantic article entitled Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important, Andrew Simmons writes,
"poetry enables teachers to teach their students how to write, read, and understand any text. Poetry can give students a healthy outlet for surging emotions. Reading original poetry aloud in class can foster trust and empathy in the classroom community, while also emphasizing speaking and listening skills that are often neglected in high school literature classes."
Today I was delighted to stumble upon a lovely animated Hungarian poem called Zsolt Miklya. Artist Peter Vacz created a visual interpretation of the poem Streamschool by layering character animation over stop motion backgrounds. The artist writes about his creative process here.

Streamschool (Patakiskola) from Péter Vácz on Vimeo.

Poetry + animation.  Something we will no doubt be seeing more of as different kinds of digital books for kids emerge. What do you think?


30 Ways To Celebrate Poetry Month
The Poetry Foundation
Digital Poetry Interfaces by Jason Nelson 
Poetry Beyond Text  
Building Literacy Skills With Poetry