022: How To Become A Sketch Artist (Doug Neill)

Doug NeillSo often the things we loved to do as children end up being the things we are most passionate about as adults. Our guest for episode 22 is the perfect example of this.

Today Doug Neill is a sketch artist, illustrator and graphic recorder. As a child he loved to draw – but it wasn’t until a pivotal moment in a coffee shop at the age of 25 that he found the path to make his childhood dream his passionate livelihood.


When he was little, Doug very much enjoyed drawing. In fact, he had a pal who loved to write and they talked working on projects together. His friend would write and Doug would illustrate.

Today, Doug has made this his reality. But it took a winding road with lots of turns to get him there.

When Doug went to college at Willamette (a liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon), he opted to major in Physics and Spanish. He enjoyed physics and wanted to explore it. And he knew by taking Spanish he could study aboard.

After his undergrad degree was done, he wanted to pursue a Physics Ph.D. so he could become a professor. He loved the subject matter and had discovered he enjoyed tutoring so he thought teaching would be a natural fit.


  • How did he know full-time teaching gigs weren’t “it” for him?
  • What’s the first thing he did after his “light bulb” moment?
  • Did his friends and family support him along the way?
  • How he gets past his inner critic.
  • What would he do differently if he started his graphic recorder path now?
  • And so much more!

So off he went to graduate school to become a Physics professor. But very shortly into his first year, he knew it wasn’t for him. He took a leave of absence after getting his first iPod touch and seeing the potential in apps.

He spent the next few months using his computer programming skills he learned in his Physics courses. But that didn’t work out for him either and he revisited the idea of teaching.

He still loved the idea of connecting with students so he pondered which age bracket he wanted to teach and came up with high school. He earned a master’s degree in education and went into substitute teaching after.

But even though teaching felt like a good fit, he knew it wasn’t totally “it” either. With that in mind, he explored what he might do in his spare time. And one day while at a coffee shop, he watched a Ted Talk on the value of doodling. Doug’s light bulb moment had arrived! He loved what he heard and took immediate action.

Over the course of the next year, he put himself out there and shared his sketches and his journey on a blog. After that first year had passed, people contacted him asking if he could sketch for them. That’s when he knew he was on to something! It’s been full speed ahead for him ever since.

Doug’s story is definitely an inspiration, I hope he showed you how important it is to follow your path wherever it leads. As long as you do, you will eventually find your calling. It was terrific having him on the show, let him know you listened and got value from him via the comments below or on Twitter!

Tweetable:The thing I focus on most is not letting that internal resistance stop me.” Doug Neill


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1 Comment

  1. I am interested if any of the other listeners in the audience are also doing something similar to Doug where they are now doing what they wanted to as a child. Anyone out there who has a similar trajectory?

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