10-year old Joe Whale is a peculiar boy whose passion is… doodling. Yup, that activity which some of us do when we are bored, scribbling nonsense to waste away time.
Joe, however, takes doodling seriously. So serious was he, in fact, that he would doodle while class was going on, sharpie-ing his school books with the imagination that pops into his young mind.
His teacher, expectedly, was not too enthused by him turning his math book into a “doodle book” and had asked him to stop doing that.
But his parents saw it differently.
“One day, he came home from school a bit deflated because they weren’t doing much art,” his father, Greg, says. “He was getting frustrated at the little amount of art he could do so he used to doodle on the table’s whiteboard in class and get into trouble for doodling.
“His mum and I decided to get him into an art class outside of school called Bloom, and he loves every minute of it.”
“His drawings blew his teacher away and they gave him his own wall to keep doodling on which he does every week when he goes there.”
“I absolutely LOVE to doodle!”, Joe says. “I first got interested in art when I was about 6-years old and loved making monsters come to life. I attend an art class called BLOOM and get my inspiration for the book series from Tom Gates which I love to read.”
That move to get Joe an arts teacher was fortuitous, for it has led to him becoming somewhat of a celebrity in Shrewsbury, England, where he lives, and especially online on social media.
Kerry, his teacher at Bloom, recognised Joe’s talent right away when she first saw it, and posted his drawings on Instagram (after Joe agreed for her to do so). The photos went viral, and caught the eye of the owners of a restaurant called Number Four.
They approached the teacher and asked if Joe could do some work for them. Joe and his parents agreed. Picture-frame size doodles would not be a problem for the boy. But that was not what the restaurant wanted.
Greg started to have some doubts about it when he realised later that they wanted Joe to work on an entire 8-foot wall in the restaurant.
“When I got there and saw what they wanted him to do, I thought, ‘Joe doesn’t like to duplicate drawings, so how is he going to fill an 8-foot wall without having to duplicate his doodles?'” Greg says.
His fear proved unfounded, as his 10-year old boy showed that his passion was the real deal.
“Literally, Joe seemed to get better and better,” his father says. “It was sparking even more creativity because of the scale of the wall. It was unbelievable to watch.”
Greg would drive his son to the restaurant after school to work on the wall for a few hours each day.
“I was sitting there in awe a little bit,” Greg says. “He would look back at the wall like he was stuck, sigh a little bit, and go back and come up with 20 more images at once.”
Soon, his restaurant masterpiece became the talk of the town and online, and the media came calling too. But what about his school work?
Greg says Joe is excelling at school, in fact.
“He’s a great footballer and cricketer, but drawing is definitely what he is most passionate about,” Greg explains. “It’s actually quite annoying, he’s better than me at most things.”
They have set up a website – appropriately named The Doodle Boy – to showcase Joe’s work, besides his social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And to support Joe’s continued work, there are also merchandise which you can purchase on their website – all based on Joe’s art work, of course.
“It’s overwhelming so we have to shield him from that,” Greg says. “And Joe has no idea of the scale of what it has turned into. So we are protecting him from that, so that he can just enjoy drawing.”
That is a wise thing to do, especially when you realise that Joe’s love for doodling is quite genuine.
Joe says his favourite things to draw are food, robots and aliens because “it is really funny to see it coming to life.”
And as for his future?
“I really want to be an artist when I grow up,” he says.
Visit the Doodle Boy website here.