Psychological research in recent years has found that students’ doodling in class can actually benefit their attention, memory, and learning. For Mill Valley resident Spence Snyder, those doodles spawned a multi-faceted, medium-spanning career in the arts, and his gorgeous cover of this 2019 Enjoy Mill Valley Guide is the latest example of his talents.

Snyder grew up in Novato, and says he spent many a class doodling in the edges of his notebook in class at Pleasant Valley Elementary and San Marin High. But those doodles drew the attention of his classmates, and before long, he was creating puzzles and mazes for them and garnering lots of praise for his artwork.

“It’s always nice to get a little attention,” he says.

After high school, Snyder grappled with the stereotype of the starving artist and pursued graphic design and illustration at Academy of Art University and the University of San Francisco. He’s worked for more than a decade as a commercial illustrator and designer working with clients such as Yahoo!, Intuit and EA Games.

But while his work and his digital art are imbued with technology, it all comes back to the doodle.

Makes me think – interesting – something tactile about putting a pencil on a piece of paper – “There’s just something magical when you draw, of that line you’re creating following your hand as it moves,” he says.

Snyder’s cover image is rooted in his plein air painting. He lives on Shelter Ride, with its panoramic view that spans from the Richardson Bay bridge to Mt. Tam and beyond.

“I’ve painted that image a few times from a spot near my home around 5-6pm, and it’s just so dramatic with the fog rolling in and the light changing and it’s becoming very dark with the fog on one side and it’s still very sunny on the other.”

Snyder painted that scene multiple times at various sizes and then created the digital image based on those paintings. “It’s a location where you feel like what’s in front of you is constantly moving and changing,” he says.

We’re thrilled to feature Snyder’s work on the cover, and recommend checking out his website at spencesnyder.com.

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