Create Whatever, Whenever, Wherever


‘It’s good as an artist to always remember to see things in a new, weird way.’ – Tim Burton


As an art educator, I gain inspiration and ideas for lessons, units and themes by attending art exhibitions. This is true in the case after my attendance at The World of Tim Burton exhibition that spent three months in Taikoo Place in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. The maze of rooms, drawings, influences and sculptures was just a small glimpse into the mind of a wonderfully, weird, dark and brilliant mind who makes the strange and unusual accepted and appreciated.


One aspect of the exhibition stuck with me like toilet paper on the bottom of my shoe. It was the hundreds of napkin drawings that Burton has created over the years in bars, restaurants, coffee shops and hotel lobbies. Inspired but the ‘whatever, whenever, wherever’ nature of Burtons napkin drawings, I wanted to encourage such spontaneity and impulsivity to draw wherever you are by any means possible. Also, to draw fearlessly regarding no rules or expectations put upon yourself or by others. As Burton also said, ‘Don’t worry about how you ‘should’ draw it. Just draw it in the way you see it.’


I then created a 45 minute lesson for Upper Primary students that focused on this idea. After presenting napkin, newspaper and sketchbook drawings by Tim Burton, students rotated to four different stations spending 5 – 7 minutes drawing at each.

  • Station 1 materials: Napkins, black felt tip pens, Tim Burton character feature examples
  • Station 2 materials: Ripped pieces of newspaper, black markers, Tim Burton character feature examples
  • Station 3 materials: Post-it notes, ball point pens, Tim Burton character feature examples
  • Station 4 materials: Student sketchbooks, pencils, Tim Burton character feature examples

Here are the links to the Tim Burton character feature examples I used at each station:






The kids absolutely loved it! Although only a few of them attended the exhibition, in a way I brought the exhibition to them. Tim Burton’s message is so important to young people – don’t worry about how you ‘should’ draw it, just draw! Also, I tried to express to my students not to wait for the paper or a time to create, just create whatever, whenever, wherever!


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