To mark the launch of the latest chapter in the life of the comical character, Tom Gates: Extra Special Treats (not) – once again combining stories about his life in class and at home with doodles of his friends and family – leading UK handwriting analyst, Ruth Rostron has lifted the lid on what our doodles really mean.
If you draw boxes while you are on ‘call waiting’ or fill your pad with flowers during a particularly boring meeting, your doodles can be very revealing. From unknowingly finding yourself doodling an elephant (meaning you think you need to lose a few kilos) or a hedgehog (reflecting you are in a prickly mood), there’s more to casual scribbling than meets the eye.
Ruth says, “Symbols that recur in doodles relate to basic human needs for love, security and survival. Interpretation of a particular doodle will depend on the way it has been drawn and the context but there are some common shapes that people doodle which have a real meaning.”
Boxes suggest a self-controlled and controlling nature; they reflect common sense or someone who is practical, methodical and orderly. Box doodlers are logical and constructive, solve problems by thinking and consider situations from all angles. Predictable but reliable, these people like structure in their life and need security. They can restrain feelings and tend to have limited spontaneity.
· Subdivided boxes: analytical, meticulous
· Stacked up boxes: ambitious, materialistic, acquisitive
· Boxes with scribbles inside: feels frustrated, ‘boxed in’, bottles up feelings
When it comes to this feminine symbol, interpretation depends on the shape of the petals and leaves. Rounded flowers indicate someone who is warm, sociable, emotional, gentle, sensitive, romantic, naïve and vulnerable. When more pointed they suggest intelligence, quick thinking, assertiveness and decisiveness, but also a defensive, critical or perfectionist nature.
· A coloured flower: happy, enthusiastic, optimistic
· A drooping flower: depressed, feels tired or old
· A flower with a large centre: self-centred, confident, enjoys attention
House doodles are symbols of security and shelter. How it is drawn shows feelings about home and family life. This person sees their home as a place of safety or refuge from the world, wants material or emotional security, or to be settled.
· Large house: ambitious, enjoys the good things in life
· Small, isolated house: lonely, unhappy
· House with few details: problems at home, home feels empty or cold
A symbol of love and romance, heart doodles suggest an affectionate, sentimental, emotional and romantic person, or someone dreaming of love, marriage and/or sex.
· Two hearts: looking for commitment
· Broken: broken-hearted, drama queen
· Deeply shaded: unhappy, fixated, brooding
The face doodler takes an interested in people and personalities. Self-portraits betray an egotistical nature, whereas faces doodled in profile tend to indicate someone who is secretive or wanting privacy. A round shape suggests a warm, sociable nature, a person who wants to love and be loved; angular faces tend to be doodled by challenging, tough or aggressive types who may be compensating for feelings of inadequacy.
· Smiling: contented, enjoys family and friends, flirtatious
· Sad, serious: thoughtful, melancholy, has difficulty relating
· Caricature: sense of humour, frustrated, conceals sadness
Stars suggest aspiration and ambition and are doodled by those determined to succeed. They also indicate an intellectual or spiritual nature, or someone who is optimistic, a bit of a dreamer, or romanticises.
· Precise star: keen mind, meticulous, critical, exacting
· Roughly drawn star: argumentative, aggressive, may bend the rules to get what they want
Different animals have typical characteristics and also express moods. Domestic animals are doodled by those who are home-loving, like their creature comforts and tend to be affectionate; if they’re curled up it could suggest they are feeling defensive. Jungle animals reflect an aggressive, macho or frustrated nature, while caged animals could indicate a person is feeling trapped.
· Elephant, pig: feels overweight
· Hedgehog: keen mind, critical, defensive
· Horse: energetic, strong character
· Lion: courageous, leader, wants to take charge
· Mouse: feels small or helpless, phobic
Grid doodles show a desire for control and order.
· Well-balanced checks: good organisation and planning, purposeful, orderly, obsessive
· Roughly drawn: struggling to contain anger, frustration or aggressive feelings
Circles symbolise harmony and union, and are doodled by those who tend to be harmonious, sociable, cooperative, kind, friendly and flexible, and want to give and receive love. Large circles suggest a confident, self-centred or attention-seeking nature, while small ones reflect feelings of insignificance or inferiority.
· Solitary circle: independent, feels isolated or lonely
· Divided up circle: analytical mind
· Retraced many times: stuck with a problem, going round in circles, defensive
· Filled in: bottles up feelings, obsessive
The stick figure doodler is intelligent, has an analytical mind, recognises what is essential and sees to the nub of a problem. This person likes facts and comes straight to the point, but can come across as abrupt or unemotional. They are self-controlled, yet may be out of touch with their own feelings or the needs of others.
· Large head: confident, bighead, craves appreciation or attention
The type of boat someone doodles and its relative size and stability determines its interpretation; the water around the boat indicates whether emotions are tranquil or turbulent.
· Liner on a calm sea: self-assured, enjoys luxury, dreaming of a holiday
· Small boat on a stormy sea: vulnerable, on an emotional roller-coaster
· Small sailing boat: independent, wants freedom, loner
· Speedboat: adventurous, restless, wants to get away
· Warship: aggressive, macho
Tom Gates: Extra Special Treats (not) is out now as a shiny hardback special edition, priced £9.99. For further information visit www.tomgatesworld.blogspot.co.uk for the latest Tom Gates news.