"Make Gifts "

I love to make things. Big and small. Mostly for myself and for my two boys. They’re my favorite users and best critics. I’m also beginning to find joy in making gifts for others. I guess my hope is that I inspire them to put down devices, tap into their inner child, and make something with their hands. Then maybe gift it to a friend or family member. In hopes of inspiring them. My little butterfly effect on the world.

Recently, I read Austin Kleon’s new book Keep Going - 10 Ways to stay creative in good times in bad. And way #4 came at the exact moment I was making gifts. 300+ gifts to be exact. Yeah. I’m crazy.


I had an upcoming keynote in Arkansas (my first) and I really wanted to connect with my audience to let them know I cared about the message that I would be delivering that day. I was hoping to inspire them to do something different, yet familiar, as soon as they could. I wanted my audience drawing and begin understanding how it can be used to show thinking not artistic ability. So what better gift than a drawing/thinking journal! Yes. 300. I ended making 350 and then I had to print one pagers. The audience was over 600. I didn’t want anyone mad at me.

And honestly, I’ve grown tired of the “Hey look at me!”, “Quotes about innovation & 21st Century Skills”, and “Students are the Future!” keynotes. Jeez. Just say something useful. But I digress.

Chapter 4 in Kleon’s book pushed me to go ahead and make these gifts. I’m sure he didn’t think someone would make 400+ (to date) gifts.

“You never know when a gift made for a single person will turn into a gift for the whole world.”

-Austin Kleon

The whole world! I know. I know. Lofty goal there, Herrera.

I just see that quote as using one gift to change one person and then some of the people that exist in that person’s world.

So, I don’t really know where I was going with this blog post. I’m not a writer. But I do draw and make things. So, go and make something. Use your hands. Build. Cut. Tape. Draw. Glue. Then give it to someone. Create your own butterfly effect in this crazy world of (insert your profession here).

Ok. I’m tired of writing now.


“Draw, draw, draw. Practice your drawing 15 minutes a day & we’ll see you next time.”

Recently, I was clicking through videos on YouTube with my two boys. All the Fortnite and Minecraft videos one can handle, right? The boys would defend their choices by describing how these videos help them learn how to play videos games better. Sure. I get it. I used to do that.

Now it was my turn to pick the next video. So I searched for the shows that inspired me as a kid. I love drawing and I’ve done it since I was a kid. The first show that came to my mind to search YouTube for was The Secret City with Commander Mark! I LOVED this show and I feel like I watched every episode. Watching these episodes again took me back to when I was a kid and trying to learn how to draw. Commander Mark would show you step-by-step how to draw in three dimensions. For me, as a grade school kid, drawing in 3D was (insert mind-blown emoji)! So every day I did exactly as Commander Mark had instructed me, “Draw, draw, draw. Practice your drawing 15 minutes a day & we’ll see you next time.”

You can still see some of his lessons here https://draw3d.com/

While I’m not going to show you how to draw in three-dimensions today, I am going to share with you an exercise, that I still use today, to help me become comfortable with drawing. It revolves around a simple constraint. A pre-drawn blob.

1. Using a broad-tipped marker, a paintbrush, or your favorite painting app create 4–6 random blobs on the page. Don’t think about them. Just place your brush against the paper/screen. In my example, I used Adobe Sketch on my iPad. It’s free and has a watercolor brush that works really well for blobs. And for painting I’m sure. :)


2. Now, using a pen, draw in some attributes that turn those blobs into something new. It can be anything! Remember that activity you did as a kid when you were lying on your back looking up at the clouds. “Oh, hey! That one looks like a dinosaur.” It’s the same idea. Only with this, you get to draw in those details. You could even add the constraint of keeping with a theme.


So why do this? When I sketch out ideas, images, or just art I often get caught up in making that first stroke.

How large do I make my drawing?

Is the body round enough?

What is the shape of a bird?

Will anyone be able to tell what this is?

So to push past that, I use this blob exercise. Over time you build a visual library of objects or ideas. So when you do need to draw a robotic alien driving a broken down spacecraft, you can recall the image you made with your blob.


“Draw, draw, draw. Practice your drawing 15 minutes a day & we’ll see you next time.”

Visual Thinking Blog Series

As I begin working on moving my writing/ideas to this space, I want to make sure that you don’t miss the other content that I’ve created or created with others. Here are links to the Visual Thinking Blog Series that was created by Sadie Lewis and myself a few months ago.





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