Art, Creative Thinking, Education, K-12, Motivation, Teaching Tools

Zen Pencils Teacher’s Guide

It’s Phun Phriday.  Technically I do a post on something that is not very related to education on these days.  But I was so excited to see this new resource from Zen Pencils that I had to share it with you right away!

The artist behind Zen Pencils, Gavin Than, creates amazing, inspirational posters based on quotes from men and women who have made an impact on our world.  He is one of my favorite artists and I was thrilled when a book of his work was published.

Teachers can now use this free Teacher’s Guide along with Gavin’s posters.  It includes discussion questions, activities, and cartooning advice.

Not every poster’s subject will be appropriate for your class, so choose the ones that work for your age group and academic area. Watch how these posters capture the imagination for your students!


Art, Books, Creative Thinking, Education, Motivation, Parenting, Teaching Tools

Zen Pencils – the Book

Gavin Aung Than, the super-talented artist behind Zen Pencils, published a collection of some of his comics last November. Needing a bit of inspiration this week, I read it again from cover to cover. When I finished, I felt like I was almost as powerful as Rising Phoenix, one of his recurring characters.

Rising Phoenix from Zen Pencils "Marie Curie" cartoon by Gavin Than
Rising Phoenix from Zen Pencils “Marie Curie” cartoon by Gavin Than

Gavin takes famous quotes and creates amazing cartoons around them.  Some of the 36 cartoons included in the book are based on selected words from: Theodore Roosevelt, Marianne Williamson, Marie Curie, and Vincent Van Gogh.  Gavin’s artistic interpretation of each passage is incredibly insightful and extremely creative.

Zen Pencils Book

Of course, one of my favorite gems in the book is Gavin’s cartoon based on Taylor Mali’s poem, “What Teachers Make.” (Not one to show to your students, though!)

To see one of Gavin’s recent masterpieces, take a look at “All the World’s a Stage,” a beautiful adaptation of the Shakespearean quote from As You Like It.  This is the closest I’ve ever come to crying over a cartoon – or Shakespeare.

Though I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger children (a tiny bit of questionable language and gestures and a large portion of higher level vocabulary), you can see in this “Reader of the Month” feature that Gavin’s readers are as young as 10 years old.  You can see Zen Pencils inspired artwork by the two girls here.

The book includes a wonderful pull-out poster featuring many of Gavin’s cartoon characters and the motto, “Imagination Unlocks the Universe.”

Zen Pencils would make a wonderful graduation gift for a high school or college student or for any teenager or adult who appreciates a healthy dose of creativity and inspiration.  I will be adding this to my “Books for Gifted Students – Or Any Child Who Loves to Learn” Pinterest Board as a recommendation for older students.  If you have an interest in Zen Pencils, but you aren’t sure you want to commit to a book of 36 cartoons, take a look at the Zen Pencils store, where I guarantee you will find a poster that is perfect for any setting.

Art, Creative Thinking, Education, Motivation, Teaching Tools


A lot of visitors to this blog seem to gravitate toward the posts that I’ve done about inspirational videos and quotes.  Earlier this week, I wrote about a great book that I purchased with hand-lettered quotes, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One.  If you are fond of illustrated quotes, you might want to take a look at the work of DANGERDUST on Etsy.  

Jessica Hische quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy
Jessica Hische quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy

Each of the prints that are sold by this anonymous duo are described as being “part of a weekly series originally drawn on a 4’x6′ chalkboard that was displayed at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Every week we would stealthily sneak into the school and vandalize the chalkboard with motivational quotes.”

I wish someone would vandalize my classroom this way!  The quotes are motivational and the lettering and other details are amazing.  Forget Successories.  These are the kinds of posters that would spark my creativity!

Steve Jobs chalkboard quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy
Steve Jobs chalkboard quote by DANGERDUST, available on Etsy