Chris Poole, or Moot as he is better known online, rose to prominence as the teenage creator of 4Chan, an image-based message board that serves as the internet’s underbelly, where memes and trolls find their early incubation to this day. In 2011, Poole launched Canvas, an image remixing site that was inspired by some of the core user behavior he saw on 4Chan.
Today, Poole builds off this legacy with a new venture—his first on the tablet—a social drawing app called DrawQuest (available in the iTunes store for FREE). The app presents users with daily drawing challenges that prompt people young and old to exercise their creative capabilities, a skill that Poole feels we tend to lose with age.
DrawQuest is another benchmark in Poole’s own maturation, a heartfelt app that seeks to solve problems he discovered through his experience with Canvas, which is essentially an image remixing site inspired by user behavior he noticed on 4Chan. “Remix culture took root in the early 4Chan community, and that kind of informed Canvas. But what we found with Canvas was that most people think that they can’t do it. We initially interpreted it as some sort of deficiency in our offering, and in the editor itself. We spent a lot of time trying to make it more user friendly. And no matter what we did, only 10% of our users remix something. We just could not move the needle,” says Poole.
Poole began to realize that it wasn’t the UI that was the problem, it was the fact that the majority of the community didn’t self-identify as creators. They were happy to sit on the sidelines and observe, or maybe comment, but when it came time to actually make something of their own, they experienced a fear that is all too familiar to anyone who has ever been confronted with the crippling intimidation of a blank page.
Citing the famous TED talk of creativity expert Sir Kenneth Robinson, Poole talks about how, at a certain age, creativity is educated out of us. “We educate kids from the waist down up til a certain age. We teach them to move, and to play, and do active stuff like that. Then we really start to work our way up to the head and focus on packing it, cramming it, with as much knowledge as we can, and it’s usually more ‘practical’ knowledge like math and science and engineering,” says Poole.
DrawQuest comes from the belief that, deep down, we’re all creative people and attempts to create a community platform where users can actively train that part of their brains with daily challenges. It works like this:
Each day, users receive a question prompt and a template to work with.
From there, they can let their imaginations run wild.
The drawings they produce are shared with the greater DrawQuest community and allow for people to star and comment on your work.
You can also browse through the gallery of community created drawings and view the process of creation through the app’s playback feature.
For Poole, the app is all about devising a safe space for creativity to flourish. It’s gamified to incentivize casual drawing, and has a very clean and simple interface that distinguishes it from professional apps like Paper or Brushes. The creative constraints of the prompts also harken back to the class assignments of grade school and are meant to make the task of drawing something easy and manageable. Everything is meant to create a low pressure, anything goes type of environment for free wheeling self-expression.
“I think it’s about establishing that even if you draw once a day and those drawings don’t end up anywhere, don’t end up on your fridge, that’s ok,” says Poole. “The goal here is more to do it, to form a creative habit, and exercise that part of our brains because for many of us, they experience a kind of atrophy from grade school on. The goal of this is not render you the next Picasso. It’s to help you start to in a very valuable way.”