According to urbandictionary.com, chicken scratch is defined as:
“Incredibly messy handwriting that is nearly impossible to read. Usually the only person who can read it is the person that wrote it. Sometimes not even they can read it after a while. The writing looks like the footprints and/or scratches chickens leave in the dirt hence the name.”
The same concept applies to sketches. My sketches.
It’s embarrassing, really, showing my sketches to other people. They typically consist of incoherent scribbles, cross-outs, and indecipherable handwritten notes all over the page. Even I can’t figure out what I had in mind half the time. Showing my sketches to another designer isn’t SO bad. Designers are notoriously bad sketchers (AND bad spellers, for that matter). Fellow designers can look at the scribbles and see past them to the nuggets of ideas on the page. Showing my sketches to a lay person, on the other hand, is like when you’re single inviting some hottie you just met at a bar to your messy, apartment — clothes on the floor, dirty dishes on every surface, maybe a litter box that hasn’t been scooped for awhile — uncomfortable for everybody involved.
In the age of computer-based design, many of us have lost hand skills. Likewise many clients have lost the ability to “read a sketch”. It’s gotten to the point that some clients expect to see almost finished layouts with fonts, colors, and images in place. The risk you run is that the some clients will nitpick fonts, rather than focus on the concepts presented. Details like fonts and colors can easily be changed — concepts should be the focus. Why this trend? I blame our reliance on computers. I blame our lack of practice once we designers leave college, where we’re required to take drawing classes. I blame breakneck deadlines. I even blame smart phones. Why not, everybody else blames them for all our social ills, so I’ll just jump on the band wagon.
That all said, I still prefer to sketch my thoughts before going to the computer. Sketching on paper makes me feel uninhibited. Yes, my sketches vaguely resemble the finished piece, but they ain’t pretty. Check these sketches out. Do they actually resemble anything recognizable? Or do they look more like the scratches a chicken leaves in the dirt?
Keep on chicken sketchin’!