Whiteboard mysteries

Ethan Kanat
Feb 26, 2019 · 3 min read

How hidden messages can spark joy (or at least spark curiosity.)

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Working in Creative, we live a pretty charmed life. We work in mediums that most people use for leisure. Building robot puppets, recording karaoke versions of corporate business goals, watching hours of weird movie trailers on YouTube — those are all things I’ve done as part of my job. I get to work with an awesome crew of artsy weirdos, every one of whom is an expert in their craft. My days are full of whimsy and witty jokes.

In fact, I feel like I get more than my fair share. I want to spread the joy, and add a little magical realism to the lives of others. Well, ok. If I’m being honest, I actually just like doing weird things for other people to puzzle over. But either way, the approach is the same: Whiteboard Mysteries.

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Like most big companies, we have whiteboards in every meeting room. During the course of brainstorms, design thinking exercises, project planning, etc. we cover these whiteboards in information and ideas. Most of it is mundane, but occasionally a nugget of pure delight emerges.

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Work protocol and decent manners dictate that we erase the whiteboard before we leave the room, so that it’s clean ready for the next group. But sometimes it’s fun to leave one of these nuggets behind to confuse and amuse them.

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Does it work? Do people love it? Do they hate it? Dunno. Sometimes I see the same thing on the whiteboard when I come in three days later, untouched since I last saw it. Other times the dudes from engineering walk in and erase the board without even looking. These whiteboard word sketches are like those sand paintings done by monks to express the ephemeral nature of existence. Except, you know, not as beautiful or profound.

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The point is, they exist only for a short moment in time. People see them, ponder them, scratch their heads, and hopefully get a small dose of joy from trying to figure it out. Or they don’t. Either way, it soon disappears and people go on with their lives.

It’s not going to set the world on fire, and it probably won’t change much of anything for anyone. But maybe it will give people a small taste of the artsy weirdness I get to bathe in every day. And who knows? Maybe someone will come upon one of these whiteboard mysteries and, for them, it will change everything.

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Zendesk Creative

We're a blend of art, copy, video, and product design.

Ethan Kanat

Written by

Writer, strategist and opinionated thinker. Lover of science, music, fancy bourbon and movies about the apocalypse.

Zendesk Creative

We're a blend of art, copy, video, and product design. We come from different backgrounds, but we share one passion as the Creative team—making compelling work for Zendesk.

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