Hit play on a video that Sam Cox, 28, shared to social media over the weekend and you’ll see how the English artist covered a 13-room stark white mansion in floor-to-ceiling doodles. Nothing—not the pillowcases, not the stovetop, not the television—is left untouched.
I doodled my house pic.twitter.com/hHhNvqKPqa— Mr Doodle (@itsmrdoodle) October 2, 2022
The video, which clocks in at just over two minutes, is a time lapse consisting of 1,857 photographs, Cox tells the Washington Post’s Adela Suliman. In reality, the project took nearly two years.
Cox, who also goes by the artist alias Mr. Doodle, has turned heads in the art world with his graphic doodle art, which is reminiscent of the work of 1980s graffiti-adjacent artist Keith Haring. Per Susannah Butter of the Sunday Times, the young artist acknowledges the similarities in their work, but says that his primary inspiration “still goes back to when I was kid watching ‘Tom and Jerry,’ ‘Wacky Races’ and ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ and video games like ‘Crash Bandicoot.’”
The Haring-meets-SpongeBob works have fetched Cox large sums of money at auctions. In 2020, he set his own auction record by selling a large-scale drawing called Spring at Tokyo Chuo Auction for around $1 million.
With the money he made from his art, Cox was able to buy his Kent mansion for about $1.5 million a few years ago. It was the first step toward fulfilling an adolescent wish to reside in a house entirely covered in doodles. “This has been my dream since I was 18,” Cox tells the Sunday Times.
One decade—and, per the Washington Post, 238 gallons of white paint, 286 bottles of black drawing paint, 401 cans of black spray paint and 2,296 pen nibs—later, Mr. Doodle is living in that dream.
After painting the mansion’s interior and exterior white, Cox first put pen to wall in September 2020. Pandemic restrictions and lockdowns left the artist with much more time at home than he was used to, which “helped accidentally,” he tells the Washington Post. “We were forced to be inside, and my main project was so easy to access because we live there.”
The “we” he is referring to includes his wife, Alena, who goes by Mrs. Doodle. Alena, an artist herself, often collaborates with her husband, such as on a doodled flag of Ukraine in the shape of a heart, which the couple sold prints of to raise money for UNICEF’s efforts to support children in Ukraine, Alena’s home country.
When it came to the mansion, though, Cox refused his wife’s offers to help him doodle. “I wanted to say I’d done it all myself,” he tells the Sunday Times.
Different rooms and areas of the house were dictated by loose themes: The hallway, he tells the Sunday Times, evokes Noah’s Ark, while the stairs represent heaven and hell. But beyond that, the doodles are improvised, and mistakes are left intact. Speaking with BBC Breakfast’s Tim Muffett, Cox describes doodling as an “out-of-body” experience. “You’re just indulging yourself in this free-flowing state of creation and it’s just the best thing anyone can do, I think.”
Dedicating your life to doodling isn’t all smooth-sailing, though. In February 2020, Cox got the flu and began having doodle-related hallucinations, which landed him six weeks in a psychiatric ward, he tells the Sunday Times. “It’s a scary feeling to think you are losing your mind and not know what’s real,” he says. “I’m glad I have a grasp on reality again and I now make sure to go on walks and step outside of doodle world now and then.”
Even so, Cox maintains that living in an entirely doodled mansion is “paradise,” as he puts it to BBC Breakfast.
Given the reception to Mr. Doodle’s work in recent years, the value of his Kent mansion has likely skyrocketed now that it’s covered in doodles. But Cox is not interested in selling the home, which he selected in part because it’s five minutes away from where his parents live, per the Sunday Times. He’s not even interested in selling in-person tours, though he’d like to make online tours available.“I’m pretty committed to staying in it,” he tells the Washington Post. “We really like where we live, and we’re really happy being in the home.”