Zen Pencils

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 28th February 2012

Zen Pencils comic by Gavin Aung Than

OK so TDF can’t always be about envy-inducing homes and cute colourful homewares.  Today’s find is a little left field but we do love to keep you guessing with the odd unexpected design discovery!

Zen Pencils is a unique web-based illustration project by Melbourne graphic designer / illustrator Gavin Aung Than.  In a project described as ‘cartoon quotes for inspirational folks’, Gavin takes famous inspirational quotes from old school heros (think Einstein, Mark Twain) and modern day messiahs (even Steve Jobs is represented!), and illustrates them – comic-book style!

Zen Pencils is a super kooky concept, but it’s Gavin’s skill as a comic illustrator that really lifts this project beyond cute ‘n quirky territory.  Each illustration is so polished and perfectly detailed – truly accomplished work, and well worth a fossick through the archives!

Due to the slight randomness of this little project we felt compelled to ask Gavin a few nosy questions –

You seem very switched on Gavin.  Where did you come from?  Can you give us a little info about your study / career background?

I studied graphic design at Curtin Uni in Perth, and have worked as a graphic designer in the newspaper industry for the past 8 years. I’ve always wanted to be a cartoonist and have had regular comic strips published in The Sunday Times and mX newspaper as a freelancer. This year I’ve decided to focus on illustration and go freelance full-time.

Zen Pencils is such a cute and very original concept! What inspired you to take inspirational quotes and turn them into comics?

I’ve always been a history buff and I love reading biographies and wasting time on Wikipedia.  Inspirational quotes are all over Twitter and Facebook so I thought I could add my own spin on them instead of just regurgitating them online. I’ve also been interested a lot lately in professional blogging. So I decided to combine all of this with my love for illustration and design and create Zen Pencils.

Can you give us a little info about your process? – Do you hand draw your concepts then move to using illustrator? How long does it take to complete each comic?

I start with the quote and concept and do some rough sketches.  I hand draw the final piece with pen and ink before scanning into the computer, where I colour it in Photoshop and add the lettering in InDesign. Each piece takes about 2 days, give or take a day depending on the complexity.

Gavin updates Zen Pencils with a brand new comic every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday!  Which I’m sure you’ll agree is SUPER impressive.  DO pop over and have a flick through the archives!   And perhaps you might also like to submit a quote for Gavin to illustrate!

Zen Pencils comic by Gavin Aung Than

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 28th February 2012


  • tim 5 years ago

    Great way to start the day!

  • Jess 5 years ago

    Beautiful – thank you for this!

  • Brendan 5 years ago

    Wonderful!!! truly wonderful!!! I hope zen pencils becomes a really really big thing. its brightened my day, its no longer grey in Melbourne. thanks ;)

  • Fiona 5 years ago

    I love being surprised by TDF – thanks for Zen Pencils!

  • Rani.C 5 years ago

    Around the globe in one morning…………came to TDF via An Indian summer, who was also mentioned on twitter via a friend in Morrocco. Jet-Lagged!
    Came for a quick perve but lingered much longer.
    Love the contributions, the talent & the liberation of it all.
    All smiles
    Thanks for sharing

  • Jessamy 5 years ago


  • eat my shorts 5 years ago

    Fabulous! Love them!

  • Rock Denim 4 years ago

    To teach is great, but to inspire is divine. Inspirational quote by Vikas

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