Founders of zentangle


Rick and Maria

The drawing method called Zentangle was created in a small New England town by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas in 2004.  Rick Roberts designed flutes, was a printer, typesetter, taxi driver, as well as a monk for 17 years.  Maria had been an entrepreneur from a young age.  Over 25 years ago Maria began designing invitations. Her business, Pendragon Ink, won numerous industry awards including Best of Show at a prestigious New York City stationery show. Her calligraphy work is known around the world. You can see her beautiful work at


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Maria demonstrated her calligraphy at art fairs and at these events Maria and Rick would hear the same comments, “Oh, that is so beautiful! If only I could do that, I would be so happy! But I don’t have_________.” Fill in the blank, lack of time, money, tools, talent, training and so on. They made a list of 10 frequently used excuses.


Rick's version of the story: One Saturday afternoon he barged into Maria’s art studio while Maria was working on an illuminated manuscript with decorative letters in gold and patterns. The studio was quiet and Maria had been absorbed for several hours drawing small intricate patterns inside a large letter.  It took some time for her to come out of her relaxed focus on her work. Maria said she was free of worries. Rick realized it was similar to meditation.  So, together they wondered if people would benefit if this could be developed into a system and taught to others. Rick and Maria created a program to teach basic repeating strokes to make larger patterns within a defined area. Rick and Maria started teaching it to others so people could focus on their strokes and experience peace like Maria experienced.

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