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Columbia’s next mural will have thousands of doodles, including yours

Richland Library has been handing out scores of bookmarks lately, but they’re not for holding your place in that novel.

The bookmarks – between 4,000 and 5,000 – will be used to make a mural at Richland Library Main on Assembly Street.

Here’s where you come in.

The bookmarks are blank and need to be filled with your doodles.

“The idea is that anyone can doodle,” said Richland Library’s artist-in-residence Marius Valdes, who is spearheading the project.

Valdes created doodle kits with blank white bookmarks and black Sharpie pens that people can pick up for free at the Main, North Main, Sandhills and Southeast branches throughout May. The box says the deadline for returning bookmarks is Saturday, May 13, but that is a soft deadline, Valdes said.

He will then scan all the bookmarks and assemble them along a 50-foot-by-9-foot wall on the library’s garden level, which is currently undergoing renovations. He might add color to the finished piece or leave it black and white.

“We have no idea what it’s going to look like,” he said. “It will be organic and interesting visually.”

The mural should be completed by late fall, according to the library.

Related: See Richland Library Main’s second floor renovations

Valdes teaches graphic design and illustration at the University of South Carolina and is the library’s first artist-in-residence. Part of his residency involves work on a new book titled “Burd” (purposefully misspelled “to be funny” he said), and some of his bird characters and doodles will be scattered throughout the mural.

Most of his artwork involves animals, which are bold and colorful rather than realistic.

“I learned recently that I’ve been drawing chickens wrong. They are not at all anatomically correct. But people still know they’re chickens,” he said.

On his website, Valdes’ whimsical creatures have titles like “Happy Go Lucky Bear,” “Whoo Wee Piggy,” “Spotted Blob” and “Disgusted Monster.” Sometimes he hides small pieces of his work in the library’s bookshelves for people to find and keep.

He makes them quickly and doesn’t like to overthink details.

That attitude is perfect for doodling.

“When you’re doodling, you’re relaxed. You’re not thinking about it.”

You might, however, have to work to find your doodle among the thousands once the mural is completed.

“There will definitely be a ‘Where’s Waldo’ effect,” Valdes said.

Related: Richland Library is a finalist for a national award