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Rules to Tangle By

Rules to Tangle By

Julie writes...

When people first discover to the Zentangle Method, they sometimes ask about the “rules.” Whether it is an email I receive or a conversation I come across online, people have questions about black and white vs. color, tangling surfaces, which tangles to use, and other inquiries as they begin heir Zentangle Journey. There is often a desire to do things correctly and they are seeking clarification.

So here my friends are the official Zentangle Method Rules:

1. There are no rules.

The Zentangle Method has steps to guide you in creating Zentangle art, but at the end of the day the Zentangle Method is all about putting pen to paper and creating art. If you are doing that and having fun, then the rest does not matter.

Original Zentangle art is done on a white square tile (approximately 3.5”) with black ink and we always suggest that is where you begin but there is nothing that says you cannot explore beyond the basics.

We love to tangle on different shape and color tiles, but there are endless surfaces and tools to be explored. For example, with Maria, we often laugh that, “no surface is safe!” Whether you are tangling on a square tile or tangling and giant mural on the side of the building, you are creating Zentangle Art.

A few weeks ago, we shared a blog Molly wrote a few years ago discussing Zentangle art vs. Zentangle Inspired art. I encourage you all to read that blog here.

The other question we seek asked often is about which tangles they are allowed to use. If a tangle is not an “official” Zentangle tangle, can it still be used? The short answer: yes. The long answer: is also yes. There are also no “official” tangles. There are tangles that Zentangle, Inc. have deconstructed and published, and some say those are the “official” tangles, but as you might know, we are not a huge fan of labels here and that label can often lead to confusion. There are many tangles deconstructed by Certified Zentangle Teachers and other members of the Zentangle Community that are just as “official” as a tangle deconstructed by Rick and Maria. You may also find that different people deconstruct similar patterns without knowledge of one another (a great blog on this topic here). We encourage you to explore any tangle that catches your attention.

Now, if you are anything like me, you may really like rules. They offer an elegance of limits that is comforting and provides direction. So, if you need a rule to help you get started, I have a good one for you…

1. Have fun.

Julie Willand


  • Zentangle Improvisation!!!

    Jackie Saunders on

  • Wonderful article Julie! May I share this verbatim with my “beginnings” ladies? I know they would really love this article!

    LaJuania D on

  • No matter how many times I read the “rules”, LOL I can NOT seem to stop coming away with, “But, I can not draw!” I knowwwww, I know. Geesh. And really no one would see my stuff but myself. When myself looks at what she makes, she says, “Ugh, that is NOT pretty!” Rolling my eyes at myself.

    Joy on

  • Yay!!! So fun! So freeing!! So so wonderful :) :)

    Wendy Beak on

  • Thank you Julie! I’m just heading off to teach a Zentangle class and I’m going to read my students what you wrote.

    BTW, I love your Mac ’n Cheese reference to favorite tangles.

    Ann Baum on

  • Beautifully said, Julie!

    Mary Lindeblad on

  • ♥️

    Michele Lewis on

  • Julie. Thank you so much for this! It has all been said before but you put it all together beautifully. Now I am off to have fun!

    Linda Deedy on

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