HI! my name is Eni Oken
Hi there! I’m Eni Oken, artist since the age of 8, art instructor and teacher for almost 30 years, author of hundreds of articles, tutorials, video lessons and ebooks online and books in print. I've taught thousands of students, and watched many of them grow into fully mature artists in their own right. What a JOY!
In case you're wondering, my first name is pronounced like "a-knee", with emphasis on the "ee". :-)
Right brain and left brain, artist and geek, analysis and synthesis, all belong here.
Left brain: Analyzing a problem and coming up with improved solutions – first distilling it into tiny digestible pieces – then being able to holistically see the big picture solution — comes as natural to me as breathing. My head works like a machine where you feed a problem on one side and solutions come out the other end, always accompanied by a neat little “how to do it better” instruction set.
Right brain: although half of my life has been spent in the US, my roots are deeply influenced by my Brazilian culture, my native country. Color, ornament and swirls, heavily influenced by Brazilian Carnaval can be felt throughout my work regardless of the medium used, digital or analog.
I started my artistic training at a very young age when my very insightful mother realized I had an inclination to the arts and had me attend as many art classes as she could afford. My grandmother was a also superb craftsperson and taught me lace making and other fiber techniques. The earliest age I remember wanting to be an "artist" was at 8 years old.
Interestingly enough, I was not trained as a fine artist in college. Instead, I was influenced for one reason or another to go to architectural school, claiming those skills would be more commercially useful. For that twist of fate, I graduated as an architect and was involved in designing and shaping fantasy environments for video games for almost 2 decades, during which time I earned a number of awards.
You can say that I'm a "compulsive creative", I just love to find methods and processes on how to create more beautiful art. I believe that art doesn't need to rely purely on talent alone; on the contrary, there are rules and guidelines to good art that can be learned without hampering a person's creativity and ability to create their own unique style. It's not an immediate process and takes practice, though.
With the exception of my early artistic training, I'm pretty self taught when it comes to art. I've explored every technique and method I can get my hands on, including painting, drawing, illustration, computer graphics, sculpting, jewelry design, fantasy design, color theory, costume and scenery design, sewing and fiber techniques, miniature and model-making, window dressing, you name it!
Very shortly after college I discovered I enjoyed writing and teaching about art. It's almost as if the process of creating art is incomplete unless I can teach it and pass it on to others.
During my years in computer graphics I designed fantasy environments for video games and wrote hundreds of articles and also books in print on how to create better art using digital tools. I started writing and selling e-books in the late 90s soon after the web started.
"The process of creating art is incomplete unless I can teach it and pass it to others."
When I transitioned to jewelry design in 2004, I created a collection of over 100 e-books and tutorials on jewelry making, and also founded and developed a very large 150 thousand member community of jewelry makers called jewelrylessons.com, which carried over 3000 jewelry making tutorials created by over 300 different teachers.
My own tutorials taught and shaped thousands of jewelry artists across the globe. In 2016 I closed jewelrylessons.com for health reasons.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic cancer and found myself unable to create any art at all for quite some time. During the treatment and recovery years I started drawing again mostly because it was portable and easy to do from bed. My first drawings during that time were gruesome but cathartic; I drew small repetitive patterns and pictures depicting the various aspects of cancer treatment and other hard to tackle subjects. That collection of drawings was called MuddyGlasses.
Some of the pictures of the Muddyglasses collection, see more here.
My oncologist suggested I try to draw pictures that were a little less "gory" as part of my recovery, and that's when I found Zentangle in 2013.
Immediately I knew Zentangle was special and different. Given all the experience I had with other artistic methods, I was very impressed by the elegance of Zentangle, and how easily it could be used by a person with no artistic training and allow them to experience all the magic moments artists take decades to learn.
Early Zentangle, 2013:
For health and financial reasons, I wasn't able to become a CZT until 2016. The experience during seminar confirmed what I thought before, this deceivingly simple method can make almost anyone enjoy the Zen flow that is experienced by artists during creation.
Since becoming a CZT, I also became more of the purist. I believe that if you do not follow a method -- Zentangle or other very precise process -- it is very difficult to produce quality art and experience Zen flow and the artistic magic moments, especially if you have no solid artistic background. That's why my advice to newcomers would be to FIRST learn the Zentangle method meticulously as it was originally developed by the founders Maria and Rick, following rigorously the eight steps. If you are not into Zentangle, then follow a specific method shown in a lesson or course, to learn the basics. Don't try to go on your own too soon!
Once you are comfortable with the basics — be it Zentangle eight steps or any other established drawing method — and understand exactly what they do for you to grow as an artist, only then you can explore and branch out to other techniques and variations in a more intuitive way.
What I like about Zentangle is that every step of the method has a solid reason, including small details such as why you should name tangles with abstract names, or why does the Zentangle method does not create figurative and recognizable pictures.
I believe art can follow a process of development, and uncovering and passing those methods is to me, pure joy.
Today I'm solidly involved in writing tutorials, e-books and videos on the Zentangle method and other forms of ornamental and meditative art, distributed online through my website EniOken.com and other online shops. Since there are so many beginners books out there, I focus on intermediate and advanced art techniques, especially related to shading, coloring and other artistic tools such as overlap, pattern selection and tangle interaction.
Most of my LESSONS focus on art topics for people who are ready to explore beyond the original Zentangle method.
As far as materials are concerned, I love using the inking pen and shading in black and white with graphite pencil. Ink and graphite were one of the first two art classes I took as a young girl, and I find it very interesting that after all this time I came back to using that media.
I also enjoy coloring with Copic markers and Prismacolor pencils. And finally, I also enjoy painting with gouache, watercolors and acrylics. You can find a list of my favorite materials at my Amazon's influencer list here.
I tend to favor filler patterns which grow organically.
My all-time favorite tangle is Crescent Moon, mostly because it is a pattern that seems to go inward instead of shaping outward. Perhaps there is some transference there: art and creativity allow you to explore your inner self. I also tend to favor other filler patterns which grow organically such as Joki (Kim Aarts) and Jay-six (my own tangle).
In early 2017 I released the ebook on “Echo Lines”, that is, a distant cousin of auras which form and grow beautiful three dimensional swirled shapes and can be used alone as a new type of meditative art or combined with regular tangles. Echo Lines are not a single tangle, it is a method of creating organic 3D shapes which relies on century old rules of perspective and foreshortening.
I also want to mention my book Zentangle Magic Moments which was created for those who cannot take a basics Zentangle class with a Certified Zentangle Teacher. It explains HOW AND WHY Zentangle method works, from my understanding as a CZT and experienced artist. The book also answers many of the questions asked in my Facebook shading group. It is one of the only e-books I have for beginners -- if you are just entering the Zentangle world, that would be the one I would recommend first!
Also in 2017 I released a subscription membership called Eni's Art Club. This is a monthly subscription where participants get any new lessons I produce from the moment they sign up, very similar to a magazine subscription.
So far, the program has been incredibly rewarding, not only for the connection I experience with members and the stability it grants me to explore more art (and consequently more lessons), but it also is far more convenient for students who enjoy my lessons. I'm very excited about this!
What I'm doing today
I'm happily settled in El Segundo, CA (near the LAX airport), living with my fiancé, a wonderful man who is the most supportive person in the world, the love of my life. We love to laugh together and dance West Coast Swing, and often participate in WCS conventions.
During the week, I work on new art, explore Zentangle, record new lessons and help my students online.
I also enjoy the beautiful smile and clever wit of my teenage son who is now in college, and love to live vicariously through his adventures.
Thanks for reading about me! If you have any questions or comments, just contact me via email here.
List of Accomplishments - Resumé
2013-present Zentangle Method
2001-present Self-taught drawing, shading and digital painting.
1999-2010 Self-taught jewelry construction and design.
1999-present Self-taught digital art skills.
1996-present Self-taught fantasy design .
1987-2001 Self-taught computer graphics and related skills.
1987-present Self-taught OS, hardware, software
1976-present Self taught fabric, lace-making and fiber skills.
Digital Tutorials, Ebooks & Writing
Art and Zentangle Video Lessons. Growing list of video lessons on Zentangle method, Zentangle-Inspired and Art. Visit the shop.
3DTangle ebook series. Growing list of ebooks on Zentangle method, shading Zentangle and doodling. 2013 - present. Visit the shop.
Think & Design Jewelry series. Over 20 hands-on sketching tutorials on creativity for Jewelry makers. Thinkdesignjewelry.com, 2011 – 2012.
PDF Jewelry-Making Tutorials. Over 50 PDF tutorials on jewelry making in various topics related to jewelry-making. JewelryLessons.com, 2003 – 2014.
Web Blogging. Blogging on subjects related to art, design, creativity, jewelry-making, Zentangle, digital painting and more, to an audience of 45,000 unique monthly visitors. 1998 - present.
Email Newsletter. Maintaining an ongoing email newsletter including new ebooks, product referrals and blog summary.
Education and Certification
Certified Zentangle® Teacher. Zentangle, Inc. April 2016.
Bachelor in Architecture. Universidade de Santos. Graduated Valedictorian with highest grades of class. 1987.
Authored Publications (Print)
From 3DStudio Max to Cult3D Designer. 3Dgate.com Online Magazine, 2001.
Using Corel Painter to Create Painterly, Seamless Textures. Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2001.
No Texture Painter Quite like this.Artist’s Canvas monthlycolumn. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2001.
Creating Ornamental Jewelry CD. Self-published, 2000
No Clean and Crisp Edges, Please! Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2000.
“Marking Image”: The poor man’s custom texture work. Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2000.
Where have all the Renaissance Men (or Women) Gone? Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2000.
The True Color of Things. Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com OnlineMagazine, 2000.
Flat versus Deep: Faking Depth in Texture Art. Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2000.
Artistic Style: Do you have it? Artist’s Canvas monthly column. 3DGate.com Online Magazine, 2000.
Creating Rich and Beautiful TextureArt. Artist’s Corner. GIGnews.com online magazine, 2000.
SixSteps Tutorial. Computer Arts magazine, 2000.
In search for 3D digital art. 3D Cafeine Online magazine. 3D Cafe©.com, 2000.
ColorSchemes: Planning Ahead. Design Freak Online Magazine, 2000.
ColorWheel: Still the Designer’s Best Friend. Design Freak Online Magazine, 2000.
Dimensional Ornate Texture Art. 3D Studio Max 3 Magic. NewRiders Publishing, 2000.
Painting in Another Dimension. In the Lab section, 3D Magazine, 2000.
Illusions of Depth: How to createrich 3D texture art. 3D Magazine, 2000.
Designing 3D Fantasy Worlds: A Workshop. Game Developers Conference Proceedings, 2000.
Texture It (Paint and Wardrobe). Inside 3D Studio Max 3. New Riders Publishing, 2000.
Inside the Front Cover. Inside 3D Studio Max 3 book. NewRiders Publishing, 2000.
Chapter 3: A Bouquet from an Alien Friend. Mastering 3D Graphics: Digital Botany and Creepy Insects, 1999.
Designing with Color Theory. 3D Cafeen Online Magazine, 3Dcafe.com, 1999.
Color Schemes: the software that helps think about color. ColorSchemes Software Manual, 1999.
Color Theory: Knowing the Rules and When to Break Them. 3D Design & Animation Conference Proceedings, 1999.
Designing Fantasy Worlds, Part 1: Exploring Concepts. 3D Design& Animation Conference Proceedings, 1999.
Designing Fantasy Worlds, Part 2: Developing Concepts. 3D Design & Animation ConferenceProceedings, 1999.
Color Theory, Game Developer’s ConferenceProceedings, 1999.
Designing with Color Schemes Workshop, Game Developer’s Conference Proceedings, 1999.
A Bouquet from an Alien Friend. Serious 3D Magazine, 1998.
Cores e Mais Cores. Digital Designer Magazine, 1998.
Color, Color Everywhere. 3D Design Magazine, 1998.
Architecture with a Twist (fantasy worlds). 3D Design Magazine, 1998.
The Secrets of Zork Grand Inquisitor. 3D Design Conference Proceedings, 1998.
Designing Fantasy Worlds. 3D Design Conference Proceedings, 1998.
Creating Fantasy Worlds, The New AnimationTechnology Conference and Exposition Proceedings, 1998.
Creating Fantasy Worlds , 3D Design Conference Proceedings, 1997.
3D Studio, uma versao impar. Publish Magazine, Brazil, 1994.
Maquete Electronica: a Arquitetura em 3D. Projeto Magazine, Brazil, 1993.
ModelamentoTridimensional: visualizacao de projetos em Perspectiva. Computacao: Arquitetura e Urbanismo International Conference Proceedings, Brazil, 1992.
Animator. Editora Erica, Brazil, 1991.
AutoCAD Avançado. Editora Erica, Brazil, 1990.
AutoCAD Dicas e Truques. EditoraErica, Brazil, 1990
Features, Interviews and other Publications
Feature Designer: Eni Oken's Wire Jewelry tutorials. The Beading Gem website. May 21, 2019.
Artist Focus: Eni Oken's Art Club. Featured in the Tireless Tangler blog, run by Cyndee Pelley, August 30, 2017
Artist Focus: Eni Oken. Featured in Pattern-collections.com, 2017.
Eni Oken – A Jewelry Business Success Story. Interviewed by Rena Klingenberg. Home Jewelry Business Success Resource, August 2005.
Linear Depth article by Nina Gracci. Lapidary Journal, 2002.
Cover image and Artist Profile, by Michael McBride. Design4 Magazine, 2001.
Spectrum 7, The Best inContemporary Fantastic Art. Underwood Books, 2000.
Ornamental Jewelry CDReview , by Tammy Powley. About.com, Jewelry Making section, 2000.
Interview with Eni Oken, by Leonard Teo. InsideCG.com. June, 2000.
Little Village Far, far away image, by Kelly Murdock. 3D Studio Max R4 Bible, 2000.
3D Cafe Interview.Digital Fine Arts. 3Dcafe.com, 2000.
3D Artists Interview. Raph.com. 3D Artists.com, 2000.
Game Development Gallery Visual Arts interview. Gamasutra.com, 2000.
Big Kahuna Awards 2000 finalists.3D Design Magazine, 2000.
In the News, by MitraMalek. MacWorld hosts Art Awards. Digital Fine Art Magazine, 1999.
In The News, by Matthew Hoover. Award Winning Alien. 3D Magazine.
Visiting ArtistSeries, 3DRender.com.
Portfolio section . Digital Designer magazine, 1999.
Spectrum 5, The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. Underwood books, 1998.
The Best 3D of the Year: Big Kahuna Winners 1998, by Kelly Dove. 3D Design magazine, 1998.
Cover of Premiere Edition and Personal Interview. Digital Designer magazine, 1998.
Game Review, by BobLindstrom. PC Games magazine, 1998.
Big Kahuna Awards 1997, by Kelly Dove. 3D Design Magazine, 1997.
2nd Page. 3D Design Magazine, 1997.
Big Kahuna Awards ’97 finalists. 3D Design Magazine, 1997.
The Viz Wiz, Artist Profile: Fantasy Worlds. Cadalyst magazine, 1997.
Architect as Artist. Computer Graphics World Magazine, 1997..
Blue Water Challenge Award: Intermediate/Advanced Category. Juried online competition. Dream Big as the Ocean Blue Cuff. Society of International Jewelry Artisans. August 2005.
Masters of Tomorrow Best of Show Award. Juried competition. InDepth Gallery. Cash award. 2001.
3D DesignBig Kahuna Award finalist. Category: Imagination. 3D Design Magazine, 2000.
3D Design Big Kahuna Award finalist. Category: Storytelling. 3D Design Magazine, 2000.
Best of Show and First prize Non-Student Category. MacWorld EXPO Digital Art Gallery, 1999.
3D Design Big Kahuna Award finalist. Category Fantasy Worlds. 3D Design Magazine, 1999.Â
3D Design Big Kahuna Award. Category Fantasy Worlds. 3D Design Magazine, 1998.
3D Design Big Kahuna Award.Category: Game Design. 3D Design Magazine, 1997.
New Media Invision Silver Award: Education. New Media Invision Awards Festival, 1997.
Spotlight Award. Category: BestRendered Art. Computer Game Developer Conference, 1997.
AchievementAward.Highest grades of the Universidade Catolica de Santos, Class of1986. Instituto de Preservacao Nacional, Brazil (Preservation Society).
Jury, Moderator, Curatorial and Advisory Duties
Shading Zentangle® Facebook group. Group Creator, Challenge organizer, Instructor and Moderator. Over 4000 members. July 10, 2015 to June 1, 2018.
Jewelrylessons.com group and message board. Developer, group moderator, instructor, admin. Over 120,000 members. June 2008 to June 2016.
Insect & Bug Challenge 2004. Wire-jewelry newsgroup online. Organization of contest, entries fees and submissions, May 2004.
3D Artists Jury board. Raph.com 3D Artists Gallery. Daily curatorial functions. 2000 to 2003.
Render.ru Jury. Render.ru Digital 3D contest, 2001.
Book review and advisement. Digital Texturing & Painting by Owen Demers. New Riders Publishing
Advisory board, 3D Design & Animation Conference and Exhibition, 1999.
3D Artists, Raph.com, 2000.
3D Art – Elite, 3DGrafix.com, 2000.
Gnomon3D InstructorGallery, Gnomon3d.com, 2000
MacWorld EXPO Digital Art Gallery, 1999.
Game ArtistGallery, Gamasutra.com, 1998.
Digital Fantasy 3D Art, Fantasya.net
Lectures, Workshops and Classes Ministered
Opaque Paint Media workshop. Tangle U 2019 Teacher Trainer. 4.5 hour live workshop in Asheville to 150 CZTs. Asheville, NC, May 6, 2019.
Zentangle and Art Online Video Classes. Hour-long recorded video lessons. April 2017 to present day.
Starfish Line Interrupted workshop. Tangle U 2018 Teacher Trainer. 3 hour live workshop in Portland to 130 CZTs. Portland, April 2018.
Wire Jewelry Independent Instructor. Live workshops to small groups between 10 and 15 students. 2003 – 2010.
Independent Instructor. Art-related workshops ministered online: Creative Textures for 3D Art. Designing Fantasy Worlds: Sketch. Modeling Fantasy Worlds in 3D. Painting Dimensional Textures for Realtime. 2001-2004.
Instructor. Creating 2D Textures for 3D Art. Gnomon School of Visual Effects, 2000-2004.
Designing 3D Fantasy Worlds. 3D Conference and Expo, 2000.
Understanding Texture Art for 3D. 3D Conference and Expo, 2000.
Color Theory. 3D Design & Animation Conference, 2000.
Designing 3D Fantasy Worlds: A Workshop. Game Developers Conference, 2000.
Designing with Color Theory. The American Film Institute, 2000
Designing with Color Theory. The American Film Institute, 1999
Designing Fantasy Worlds: Concept Development. The American FilmInstitute, 1999.
Designing with Color Theory. The American FilmInstitute, 1999.
Color Theory. 3D Design & Animation Conference, 1999.
Designing Fantasy Worlds, Part 1. 3D Design & AnimationConference, 1999.
Designing Fantasy Worlds, Part 2. 3D Design & Animation Conference, 1999.
Color Theory. Game Developer’s Conference, 1999.
Designing with Color Schemes Workshop. Game Developer’sConference, 1999.
The Secrets of Zork Grand Inquisitor. 3D DesignConference, 1998.
Designing Fantasy Worlds. 3D Design Conference, 1998.
Creating Fantasy Worlds. The New Animation Technology Conference, 1998.
Creating Fantasy Worlds. 3D Design Conference, 1997.
The Visualization of Architectural Projects. HospitalÂ Architecture Conference, Brazil, 1992.
Visualization of Architectural Projects. International Architectural Conference, Brazil, 1991.
Consultant and Corporate Instructor. 3D Studio and Autocad. Various Companies in Brazil and Los Angeles, 1990-1994.
Staff Instructor. Basic AutoCAD. Advanced AutoCAD. 3D Techniques.Serviço Nacional deAprendizagem ao Comércio (SENAC), Brazil, 1990-1992.
Artistic Experience and Commissions
Zentangle Art tiles. Personal work. 2013 - present.
Various individual jewelry commissions. Personal jewelry work. 2000-2010.
Mixed media drawings, sketches, paintings anddimensional art. Personal artistic work. 2002-present.
Digital fantasy art. Personal artistic work, 1999-2001.
Concept Art. Origin. 2000
Civilization Game Art. Activision, Inc., 1999.
Ultimate Worlds 3D Chatrooms art. Worlds, Inc., 1998.
Barnstormers Realtimetextures. Monkey Business, Inc, 1998.
Horse Whisperer CD Adventure game interface art. GPColor, Inc., 1998.
Zork Grand InquisitorAdventure CD game art and animation. Activision, Inc., 1997.
Quaternity CD Adventure game art. Illumina, 1997.
GuitropolisInteractive Edutainment interface art. Alfred Publishing, Inc., 1997.
Interactive Room for CAA/Intel art and animation. L-Squared, 1996.
Agent Intrigue Demo art. Qualia, 1996.
Temple of Twitch Interface. Launch Interactive Magazine, 1996.
Lighthouse Adventure CDGame art. Sierra Online, 1996.
Zork Nemesis Adventure CD Game art and animation. Activision, Inc., 1996.
Virtual sets art. Mr. Film, 1996.
Congo Descent to Zinj game art. Hyper Image/Viacom New Media, 1995.
3D architectural modeling. Various companies in Brazil and LosAngeles, California, 1990-1995.
Furniture and accessory design and production. Tok & Stok, Brazil, 1987.
Toy design and production. Toy Designer. Madeira Viva, Brazil, 1983-1985.