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7 Signs You’re a Zentangle® Addict

My name is Jane Doe Suzanne and I’m a tangle addict.

Apparently, I’m also a pusher as several friends are now also tangle addicts. (You know who you are.) The thing is, I don’t really want to be cured of my tangle addiction.
Zentangle book
You notice that there’s a little “R”in a circle after the word “Zentangle” in the title of this post. That’s because Zentangle is a registered trademark. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, who trademarked the term, describe their Zentangle method as “an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns”. To me, sometimes it feels like “doodling on steroids”, but usually it feels like what it is a supposed to be, a meditative art form.

There were signs of my potential for this addiction early on. If my law partners found a page of notes from a meeting lying around the conference room, they could recognize it as mine by my distinctive doodles.

Three years of attending law school lectures allowed me to perfect some of my more elaborate favorites. (Hey, doodling is more polite than sleeping or reading the newspaper in the back of the lecture room. From a distance, it looks like one is intently taking notes about the pearls of legal wisdom being shared from the podium).


It was with some relief that recently I learned from CBS Sunday Morning that there is actually scientific proof that doodling improves concentration during lectures, meetings and even telephone calls, by engaging enough of the mind to keep one from spacing out daydreaming. I think that’s probably true. After all, notwithstanding despite my penchant for doodling, I passed the Bar Exam on the first try. (Do you know anyone who uses the word “notwithstanding” who didn’t attend law school?)

According to the CBS Sunday morning story, unlike anything in Washington these days, doodling is a bipartisan activity. John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both doodled and Hillary Clinton was seen doodling during a United Nations meeting.


Zentangle Inspired Art ZIA


I was very happy to learn that doodling is actually a “thing”—other than just doodling. It’s “tangling”. “Official” Zentangling has its own vocabulary and a starter kit you can purchase. In fact, I just checked and on there are 220 Zentangle related books and supplies you can buy.

Official Zentangling has some rules and there are Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZT’s) who have taken a course with Roberts and Thomas. (Update: I made my pilgrimage to the Zentangle Mother Ship and became a Certified Zentangle Teacher!)

In case you stray from the official Zentangle construct, you can call your creation “Zentangle Inspired Art” —a ZIA. I’ve had enough acronyms in my lawyer life given that my area of concentration was Social Security disability law. The US government spawns acronyms like trailer parks spawn tornadoes. I don’t need want my visual art creative outlet to have any acronyms.

7 Warning Signs that You’re Probably a Tangle Addict

  1. You find drawing repetitive patterns and filling in minute details to be relaxing.
  2. You see patterns in everything, everywhere.
  3. You purchase (and wear!) patterned clothing that you previously wouldn’t have been caught dead in. zentangle pants
  4.  Your fingers (and your clothing, furniture and possibly your white dog) are stained with indelible ink.
  5. It is not safe to leave you alone in an art supply store with a credit card.
  6. You belong to more than one Facebook group with the word “Zentangle” in its title.
  7. You look forward to long airplane rides because you can tangle for many hours without feeling guilty that you should be doing something else — especially if the plane ride is longer than the battery life on your laptop. This is why tangling is a perfect addiction for travelers.

I was turned on to introduced to tangling by blogger Laurel Regan. Others have stumbled across it at trade shows, attended a class at a local community center, found it on the internet while researching something else, or by striking up a conversation with someone tangling on a park bench during their lunch break.

Give tangling a try. But, if you get hooked, Don’t. Blame. Me!

(If you haven’t had enough tangles and want more, check out my Zentangle Inspired Art Pinterest board.)

Suzanne Fluhr, Travel Editor

Suzanne Fluhr, Midlife Boulevard's travel editor, is a recovering Philadelphia lawyer, empty nester, wanderer, dog person and Zentangle® enthusiast. She also writes about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind on her personal blog, Boomeresque. Instagram: Boomeresque2

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Suzanne Fluhr

Wednesday 27th of August 2014

Phoebe, let me know what you think after your course. I never took one. I managed to become addicted all by myself. However, I now belong to countless tangle addiction Facebook support groups. :)

Phoebe Wulliman Graber

Wednesday 27th of August 2014

OMG!! I just signed up for a Zentangle Basics workshop for Sept. 9! Such a timely article. Not tried my hand at it yet, but it looks and sounds SO intriguing!


Wednesday 27th of August 2014

Though the author (a digital chum I met in Thailand) of this fine article has yet to totally addict me (g-knows I don't need another source of distraction - I have enough with my digital graphics drug-of-choice), I must say, I'm enchanted by the (novel) wholly non-digital of ZT, and many of the designs verily take my breath away.

Suzanne Fluhr

Wednesday 27th of August 2014

Dyanne, I'm waiting for another tangle (Zen or otherwise) from you. Remember, you could be somewhere with no electricity and no battery life in your electronic devices someday. If that happens, and you've hopped on the tangle wagon, you won't be stuck in the wilderness with no artistic outlet addiction to see you through the long days and nights. However, I will disavow any knowledge of how you became addicted. ;-)

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