When was the last time that you drew anything? No, I don’t mean defacing the flyer from your prospective Euro-MP (tempting though that may be). When did you take up a pencil with the aim of reproducing something in the world around you?
If you haven’t tried recently, this Saturday would be an auspicious day to have a go. June 6 has been designated World Drawing Day and the founders want everyone to drop everything, grab a pencil and get drawing.
World Drawing Day began last year when a bunch of artists decided to make up an event and see if they could get the whole world to join in. They pointed people towards sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr and encouraged everyone to post their drawings online. Roll forward to 2009 and they’ve got more ambitious. They are aiming to get a million drawings online during the day.
It’s a fun idea with a serious purpose. It promotes the online art community and, with a bit of luck, gets the artistically undiscovered to have a go themselves.
Everyone can draw something. Often we don’t try because we’re too self-critical. I see this a lot in my cartoon workshops - it usually kicks in around age fourteen. Prior to that, we’ll happily scribble away at anything. Then puberty hits and suddenly the drawing doesn’t look like what it was meant to be (with some fourteen-year olds, this is a good thing).
A drawing isn’t meant to be anything. It’s a drawing, a few marks on a two dimensional surface. It’s meant to spark a reaction, capture of vague idea of something. It doesn’t even have to look like anything. None of my cartoon characters look like real people. But with a bit of luck, they might trigger the IDEA of a person.
Cartooning a good way to ease yourself back into drawing. Cartoons are friendly, messy creatures and acknowledge few rules or constraints. If a cartoon goes wrong, just wave your arm in an airy fashion and claim it’s all part of your drawing style. (Usually works for me.) If you can draw a box, you can draw a dog. If you can do a triangle and a circle, you’re able to draw a bird. If you can do a dodecahedron, you’re well on your way to a career in topology.
Being able to draw accurately is definitely not one of the requirements of cartooning. Only able to draw stick figures? Excellent. Purple Ronnie has been getting away with it for years. You don’t have to be able to draw like Giles to be a successful cartoonist.
So, on June 6th your mission is to visit the World Drawing Day site, sign up to one of the gallery sites, do a drawing and post it online. Any drawing, any subject. Don’t tell anyone what it’s meant to be. Let ‘em guess. But don’t forget to sign your work. You never know. It could be the start of a whole new career.
P.S. You’ll find me experimenting on the Pencake site, where you can see the cartoons form just as I drew them … including all the bits which went wrong.