Graphic Design and Illustration.

Archive for ‘February, 2014’

4 Art and Illustration Community Projects Worth Checking Out

I know to some, crowd sourcing is a four letter word, but I think these user-submitted projects are worth checking out. For inspiration if nothing else. But user-submitted sites are only as good as the submissions, so please, if you have the time and will, try these sites out!

Paper Margin Screen Shot

Paper Margin

This is a website (and Facebook page, and Tumblr page) where people submit their doodles. Submitted doodles are posted once a week on Sunday. This would be good for anyone who still uses a phonebook, keeps a notepad by their phone, or has a problem keeping focused during long meetings. Perfect for the artist in everyone!

I would have been submitting stuff for this every day if anything like this was available to me when I was in high school. My notes were always littered with doodles of dragons and dinosaurs. Good thing I was an honour student and did well in school despite my wandering mind. Though I have since found out I contributed to a drop in marks to the people sitting behind me in class, watching me draw as opposed to paying attention in class. Oops.

There might be some controversy (besides contributing to the delinquency of wandering juvenile minds). When you upload your submission, you have to pick a privacy option. One is for the website only, the other allows for the potential publishing in a future book. That implies some financial gain for the owner of the site from other people’s work (such as it is). And I would imagine it unlikely that the people submitting their doodles would ever directly benefit financially from the publishing.

Personally, I am not too concerned about this as long as the privacy option is honoured. I imagine the financial gain from publishing a book of doodles would be pretty small. And there may be some benefit to people if their name and website is attached to the publishing. It already is for the website. And yes, the link backs do work in driving traffic. Though the amount is small as this is a fairly new site.

The Sketchbook Project

 The Sketchbook Project

I’ve already blogged briefly about these guys. The Sketchbook Project is both a physical and online library of submitted sketchbooks. Here’s a brief expert from their site:

The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Our mission is to allow anyone to be able to participate in art and to create a collection of work that represents the current state of artists worldwide.

And for anyone who thinks this is cool, but can’t draw, they have this to say as well:


Because we have people from all kinds of backgrounds in our community. From writers, to poets, to photographers, we use the word ‘sketchbook’ as a loose term for experimentation in creativity. Join tens of thousands of people in this global, traveling art library. See ya’ll on the road.

Everything submitted is available online for viewing. This project is also connected to the Brooklyn Art Library. There is also a Mobile library that travels North America (though mostly the USA) letting people browse the physical sketchbooks. Would be very cool if it ever shows up in Winnipeg. I can think of a number of artist and shared use spaces opening up here in the ‘Peg that would be thrilled to house such an event. Hint, hint.

The only catch is, you have to use one of their sketchbooks. I assume it is to help fund the project. And to ensure a certain amount of control over the size and page count of the books. Keeps it fair to everyone and probably makes it easier to house and showcase all the books if they are fairly uniform. They also have a small online store of merchandise and they offer educational discounts as well. Worth checking out!



I found out about this one quite by accident. Lately, I’ve been following a bunch of illustrators and animators on Twitter. Every day there were quite a few of them posting the same type of image. I was wondering why and then someone else on the list is as following asked much the a same question.

The answer: @Sketch_Dailies.

It’s a Twitter feed (and Facebook page) where every weekday at 11 Pacific Standard Time they will post a new topic. Weekends are catch up days for real diehards that didn’t have the time to complete their sketches during the week. Submissions use the hashtag #sketch_dailies and whatever the hashtag chosen for that day’s challenge.

The feed will retweet some submissions but those interested in following everything will have to search the appropriate hashtags. Even if this type of drawing isn’t your thing it is well worth the follow just for inspiration.

It is also the most intimidating as there are a lot of professional illustrators and animators who submit to this. I know from personal experience. It was hard to hit the “send” button, but worth it in the end!

Illustration Friday

Illustration Friday

This is the grand-daddy of online art projects. It seems like it has been around forever. Every Friday a new topic for art projects is chosen. And winners from the previous week are chosen. It’s open to ALL skill levels. And it looks like a wide variety of styles and skill levels are shown. I haven’t had the chance to send any submissions to this site yet, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. They also seem to post a lot of articles for the beginner artist and getting yourself established.

This is of course, only just the beginning. DeviantArt has many such groups. Even Reddit has a daily sketch group as well. Enjoy.

Project Ampersand

The Ampersand Project

In looking for interesting art project to take on, I stumbled upon this website for the Sketchbook Project. It is a library of sketchbooks from people all over the world. Much of it appears to be online and there is a physical library that moves around to different parts of the United States (and very occasionally, Canada) for people to browse through and be inspired.

Unfortunately, based on my understanding of the project, you have to use one of their sketchbooks to participate in the Sketchbook Project. A little while ago, an art supply store in Winnipeg closed its doors and had quite a good liquidation sale. Consequently, I have plenty of sketchbooks on hand, and won’t need a new one for quite some time. So I couldn’t justify buying into the project. But they did have a side project, the Ampersand Project, that was more compelling (and easier for me to justify).

Here is a brief expert from the site that explains the project:

 Through hundreds of works of art, The Ampersand Project will explore the ways each of us can interpret something as direct as a written symbol like the humble ampersand (&).

Being that “&” means “and,” we feel like it’s the perfect character to symbolize an exchange that connects you and another person. Make a simple image that interprets this unique piece of our letter-set and we’ll send you the work of another participant in exchange.

I signed up for the project and received the kit in the mail a few weeks later.

The project consisted of a pre-gessoed art board from a company called Ampersand (I think I know how the name of the project came about) and a copy of the rules and where to submit the final art.

All I needed was an idea that fit the theme.

Being a graphic designer, I thought it fitting that I literally paint an ampersand. Though I must confess, that after doing more than my fair share of hand lettering in school, I swore off hand lettering type once I graduated. Having to hand letter New Baskerville Bold in 16 point type for a logo using gauche kind of kills ones enthusiasm to actually hand letter type. Though I do admire the people who hand letter type. The good news was, I am a designer who learned his craft in the mid nineties, so I was not too adverse to some grunge lettering. Exactness need not apply.

But just painting an ampersand still seemed a little boring, so I though of adding a little twist to everything. How about a little collaboration? How about Artist AND son? Seemed like a great idea to me. And with my son Aiden being just 10 months old at the time, I figured he would be pretty easy to convince to participate.

I first started out painting a very basic foundation using a colour scheme I pre-selected. The pre-gessoed board was very, very smooth and I was unsure if it would lend itself to the rough, grungy type I wanted to paint later on. But luck was on my side…

Once I got a base coat of paint I was happy with, I let everything get bone dry. Then I grabbed my kid, some newspaper (actually, quite a bit of newspaper), and some Crayola non-toxic finger paint (I was using proper, grown-up acrylic paint for my part). I then liberally put large globs of finger paint of the board and let my kid do his thing. Since the paint was very globby and tactile, Aiden was all too happy to smear the paint all over. And proving he is his father’s child, managed to get just as much paint on him as the canvas. Nice to see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Artist hard at work.

Artist hard at work.

Admiring the handiwork.

Admiring the handiwork.

One messy, messy baby. Dad wasn't too clean either.

One messy, messy baby. Dad wasn’t too clean either.

For anyone interested, the finger paint dried onto the acrylic as an almost translucent gel. The yellow, pretty much disappeared altogether, with the green and red showing up the best. Much of the blue turned green though, as I think I put yellow finger paint on the most and that readily turned green when mixed with the blue. Duh!


Afterwards, I added some more colours in acrylic. The colours I chose and their placement were influenced by where my co-contributor placed his colours. For those people reading this who have access to the original art, you will still see some of the finger paint showing through.

And as it turned out, the very goopy finger paint created a nice rough surface for me to paint my grungy type on. Perfect! And quite lucky.

I cheated on the type though. I printed out an ampersand on my printer at home and cut it out using an exacto knife. I then used the cutouts as a stencil to aide me in my type painting.

After everything was dry, I sprayed everything with a fixative as I wasn’t too sure what would happen to the finger paint over time.


My piece has since been mailed in for submission. I’ll post an update once I recieve my swapped painting in the mail and will try to provide a link to my digitized painting at the official Ampersand Project web page.



The Ampersand Project is now closed, with all results digitized. There is a Flickr stream of the images available. Mine can be found by clicking here. We have also received our painting swap. From someone named Lesley Wilmoth. Too bad that is all the info I have. It is a nice multi media panting with lots of interesting textures. The colour scheme will fit quite nicely with the decor of my co-artisit’s room and will be hung with pride once I can track down a suitable frame. You can see the image here:

Lesley Wilmoth Ampersand


Image of the Month – February 2014

Sherlock Holmes

After a brief hiatus for a trip to Florida and the Western Carribean, I am back!

And to start things off right, here is this month’s Image of the Month. A tribute to Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal to Sherlock Holmes!

This image was originally a black and white sketch I posted this past week to @Sketch_Dailies, a Twitter feed I will be blogging about probably next week.

Original Pencil Sketch.

Original Pencil Sketch.

One of their daily challenges was Sherlock. Most everyone was riffing off Benedict Cumberbatch’s BBC TV version. So I decided to do something a bit different. This is the “colour” version. Enjoy.

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