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Internet Art Challenges:
a brief and local history
Introduction: pt. 2
The Internet has produced a number of “Art Challenges” over the past ten or fifteen years. Here is a brief list and description of some that I have seen or heard of.
Allow this to inform your impression of my personal context for such endeavors, as I am thinking more about ‘Printer-Paper Boy’.
Maybe you’ve heard of ‘Inktober’, where throughout the month of October, artists venture to produce one inked drawing each day.
1 drawing per day
black inked drawing
I guess there is a once/weekly-for-a-year version of the challenge too. Anyway there’s an official website for it which can be found here
Never personally participated.
I remember seeing this young Brazilian guy catch a massive wave of popularity online, with his self-ascribed ‘365 days of doodling’ via the art-hosting site, Deviant Art dot com, during a time (2014-ish) where there seemed a brief reprisal of popularity and wide-spanning relevance to artists (old and new) using the format.
Perhaps there are those that see and get terrific value from that website still. Though, as of this writing, I do not currently have that sense. I don’t think I’m the only one of this mind on the topic, either.
I write about this art-hosting site for a while
My hunch about said reprisal is explained briefly like this:
Deviant Art was popular in the early aughts with kids (who liked to draw (and maybe others)), my age, who logged onto the early internet for simple things, like looking for cool pictures and information about their favorite video games & characters.
I guess I’d have been an adolescent at the time. As we (the Millenial generation) grew into self-aware adults, and also became increasingly compulsive in the adoption of worship-practice, at the alter of nostalgia, there was then, naturally, an inclination for many of us to sniff out our “old stomping grounds” by, in this example, logging back in to Deviant Art, to see what was happening there, and to reignite particpation because “m’uh childhood”.
Hence, reprisal in popularity (albeit briefly, in my estimation).
I could likely extrapolate more on this phenomenal moment-in-time at greater length, though perhaps I will save that for another time, knowing not as I do, if there is any interest at all in one man’s tell of history concerning a very specific realm of experience -that of relatively recent and particular internet happenings.
I’ll close for now on this subject by noting one explanation for the loss in popularity of Deviant Art:
Due to the emergence of another art-hosting website, the online art community was fractured.
Art Station dot com aligned itself with an appearance and standard for quality that was “higher” and thus (I’m guessing) more attractive to the professional sensibility (and those aspiring toward that level of refinement) at the time. Especially with those within the industries of entertainment arts (video games, movies, etc.).
Deviant art supposedly prioritizes the interaction between members of it’s community(s) versus professional portfolio presentation and work-prospecting (art station).
I enjoyed a little ‘ole art-hosting site that no one has probably ever heard of called fanart-central.net. Here is the profile I created as a 12 or 13 year-old.
There is a precious story to be told about my experience there, but again, perhaps for another time.
Lots of people look to the internet for tutorial videos explaining how to execute a task that they themselves do not yet know, or remember how-to, confidently.
I turned to the internet when wanting to learn the basic principles behind effectively using digital software to make artwork, or otherwise known as ‘digitally painting’.
I found this video → Sinix's video on digital painting
It helped me gain a clearer concept of digital painting, and how to approach it intelligently.
The author of the video is a talented digital artist who has garnered some fame as a popular Youtuber (a video-maker regularly publishing to the video-streaming website youtube.com2).
He commonly explains in his videos how to improve one’s drawing and painting skills (especially in the vein of digital painting).
In the exploration of various other topics of his interest, Sinix has done well, I’ve observed, to track the internet’s changing landscape over the past twenty or-so-odd years (typically from the perspective of an artist conferring online).
When the internet was “young”, online forums were where people interacted and formed “communities”. Sinix has credited a now defunct internet forum (conceptart.org3) for motivating him as a young artist to really grind repeatedly at the fundamentals until he improved.
He has taken that experience in hand, to implement his own crash-course, elimination-style competition among members of his online audience (which for obvious reasons I presume is made up of other digital artists).
There is notably no official prize, except winning, and I suppose for the experience of repeatedly stepping “up to the plate”, to exert one’s self against each daily art-challenge. There is also a community-aspect to the experience that I believe he values especially, as it likely supports the participants therein.
Sinix then posts the recap of the competition onto his youtube channel. The competition is named after it’s perennial theme: Chroma Core4
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”5
Once upon a time, I took an acting class. The teacher whom I befriended introduced me to an interactive text called
‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron
I never did read the whole thing, but was introduced to the 12-week challenge fundamental to the undertaking beckoned by the text, called Morning Pages
The Morning Pages routine asks you to simply write 3 pages by hand, before you do anything else in the day, everyday for 12 weeks.
According to the author, this will improve the result of every attempt in the realm of creative endeavor, be it painting, play-acting, authoring, etc.
Eventually I undertook something like the Morning Pages routine6 and believe it served me well, and would recommend a writing practice to anyone, especially to those who speak in the English language.7
These challenges have been valuable footholds for intentional change in the work-patterns of struggling creatives.
Having a set of fixed parameters for the duration of a spanning challenge does a lot, I think, to solve for the potentially paralyzing questions of “What to do?” and “Where to start?” plaguing young upstarts.
Legend has it,
author, Paulo Coelho holed himself up in a room with his typewriter in order complete his seminal work, The Alchemist. Leaving briefly, only to eat and use the bathroom.
Generally-speaking, I have observed these challenges and the subsequent efforts required as a way to address procrastination, especially for the young dreamer who typically lacks the desired level of skill and discipline to make the art they wish to be capable of producing.
At some point we have all been there, and perhaps some of us are there right now.
Now, for mine own:
The Printer-Paper Challenge
is personal to me,
in some of the ways I’ve mentioned, and in others I’ve not, but plan to later.
It is different (from other challenges) in what it asks of me and any others who undertake it themselves. For this reason, I do not know if it will work.
Perhaps a good challenge requires some foreknowledge into the workings of our brains, of which I’m not entirely certain I have. So that wouldn’t suppose to bode good for a favorable outcome, perhaps.
Naturally, if the challenge asks too much of what the average participant is reasonably capable of providing on a regular basis, then most people will in turn abandon it, in exchange for something less, well, challenging.
This is understandable.
What differentiates this, in comparison to the other challenges I’ve known about (and mentioned above) is that there is no cap on drawings produced per day, because the five-hundred page quota is really the only metric by which “success” will be judged. There is also no daily minimum.
In a way, this challenge doesn’t prioritize “tackling” procrastination, by requiring a drawing, daily.
So insofar as procrastination is a trait of the beginner, it could be deduced that this challenge is not intended for the beginner.
I believe this challenge could be for practically everyone though (including the beginner).
The focus is on the task of clearing a ream of printer paper (500 pages, at least 8.5” x 11”), with drawings, and making note of how many days it took to do so.
What you draw:
although I have an intention of my own as I proceed (which will be shared eventually), and I might recommend forming one for yourself.
Even how much of the page you fill from drawing to drawing need not necessarily be uniform. Of course drawing nothing for the distance of a ream of paper will leave no one impressed as you won’t have done anything at all.
So you must draw something,
and if you’d like my opinion on the subject, I recommend a "good faith” approach.
Take the challenge in good faith, for your sake, and for the sake of everyone else who might observe your efforts as well. Honor them all.
Full effort is good effort!
Clear a ream of printer paper (500 sheets) with drawings
make note of the amount of time it took to complete task
Thank you for reading.
Hopefully now you have a basic idea of what I mean when I refer to prior “art challenges”.
These are the type of “events” that come to my mind while approaching this undertaking. I wish with describing them to, in the least, give you, the reader, a basis of understanding of my reasons for conducting ‘Printer-Paper Boy’ as I shall and do plan to, at least at the start. This project will likely unfold in ways much different from what I can foresee now, only being at the cusp of its beginnings.
I am grateful to prior art challenge events for their part in loosely establishing an operations convention, one that now, I may lean on, in what ways I will, so that I won’t be tasked entirely with “reinventing the wheel” around such matters.
Apologies for the seemingly redundant description. I am considering my audience, and I know of at least one person who may read this post who doesn’t have a bank account for example, and is new to computers and the goings-on of the internet.
A Japanese/anime-style Robot/Mecha fictional universe of Sinix’s own invention, that includes a military branch of Mech-pilots called the Chroma Core’.
In the brief time I spent on the aforementioned Deviantart.com, I interacted with a girl there who only drew self-portraits, with some regularity. I was introduced to this quote by her.
I wrote 3 pages/day as a minimum, for in excess of 12 weeks.
Many peoples from widely different heritages and upbringings converge on English language and thus express themselves differently through it. It goes without saying then that there are a cavalcade of different voices of which we are regularly privy. Writing allows us to intimate more closely perhaps with out own unique voice, which is and should be of one’s primary concern to understand and develop, I believe.
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