Probably the next, most asked question I get after “What kind of pencils do you use?” is “How much do you draw?”.

Well, no, actually it’s “What kind of pencils do you use?”, “What kind of paper do you use?”, “Where do your ideas come from?” and then it’s “How much do you draw?”.

So in order, the answers are;

  1. Mostly Tombow mono 100 6B and Mitsubishi Hi-uni 10B
  2. Strathmore medium surface drawing paper, Stonehenge Cream Journal paper, Stillman & Birns Zeta Series, Arches and Cottonwood Arts
  3. I dunno
  4. As much as I need too… which financially, psychologically and Spiritually, is a lot. I guess its a lot compared to some and not as much as others


Allen Williams, Untitled 2020 Pencil Drawing

Its that 4th one that is the most important of those questions though.

What kind of pencils and paper? Is a valid question but it mostly serves to reassure the asking individual that I’m not using some special magical tool that they don’t have access to. So, even though I answer the question with specifics I always include in the answer: The best tools are the ones you have. If I need to I can draw on a brown paper bag with a pencil I found in the parking lot of Denny’s.

Tools become important when they can be important. If you don’t have access to better tools use what you have until you do. It’s about you, not the pencil or paper.

It’s the riddle of steel. (I’ll just leave that right there for those who know) 😉

Where do my ideas come from? Again I think this is about reassuring the asking individual that I didn’t have to go to Hogwarts and take a Magical Ideas and Where to Find Them class.

Where do your ideas come from? The long answer is from my life, what I read, what I see, what I listen to, what I love, what I hate, what I ate… and so on. And it’s all built on its own history… all of my work today is either an iteration, deviation or reaction to my work that has gone before it.

Roots Found in the Back Yard

Box of Bones for Reference

…the other also true answer to this question is that when you start with chaos, the ideas find you. I’ve tailored my inherent pattern recognition abilities (you know, when we see faces in wood grain) towards my own ends. That, coupled with my willingness to experiment and make many accidents both happy and otherwise has led me to some places that I find interesting to explore.

Allen Williams Beginning Drawing of From Within

Now the fourth question is the important one of those four questions because it seems to be the line of termination for some people;

How much do you draw?

This is the one people want and don’t want to know the answer to.

It’s like:

Well… the pencils aren’t much different than mine, the paper isn’t much different than mine. Ideas come from life, experience and interests… I have those. It must be time… that’s it. He spends way more time than I can/do.

This is a tricky question. The answer is I spend the time I need to. Sometimes I spend more time than might be necessary for someone else, sometimes less… but that can be said of anyone, when you’re comparing yourself to a world of artists.

The thing is, I spend the time I *need* to, whether its because its an ambitious piece that will literally take more time, a piece that has a pre-programmed timeline (contract work) or a piece that I need to fall into, get lost in for my own psychological/spiritual well being.

Stephanie Law & Allen Drawing at Friday Nights at Oakland Museum of CA, 2014

…so anywhere from 10 to 60 hrs a week depending on my needs.


The most important thing to take away from this is that whether you’re a professional or not you should spend whatever time you *need* to in order to get what you want out of it.

No one should feel guilty if they don’t do as much as I do (or anyone else for that matter).

I do it because I want to not because someone told me I should. (Unless its contract/concept work cause that’s a different beast 😉)

Allen & Maeve Drawing on the Sofa a Summer Day in 2014