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SketchCrawl sample

One lingering suggestion from my past 'Crawls is to get to Harvard Square, or at least cross Prospect Street. Call it rookie leader syndrome, but it seemed the dynamic of a pub crawl (1 drink, move on) and that of sketching (can't I just stay long enough to get it right?) seemed contradictory. Since I always gave into what the crowd was doing, we'd spend 2 or 3 hours in each pub. In that regard, getting to Tavern In The Square in SketchCrawl 22 was a major accomplishment.

For this 'Crawl, I decided to stay in each bar for no more than 1 hour. How did we do? Since this blog's being written days after the fact, I already know. You'll have to read everything below ...

Middle East Restaurant

Noon - 1:30

Samantha and I arrived a little early, getting a head start on sketching. Bartender Lisa remembered my past two 'Crawls and looked forward to seeing how this one would turn out. Some of the artists got here by media listings. Some were veterans of past 'Crawls. The final attendance was 19 artists, the largest 'Crawl I've ever led.

The first hour was extremely busy: artists strolled in, the Cambridge Chronicle arrived for photographs and interviews. To compensate for the setup time, I added an extra 30 minutes to this phase.

Once again, I was stunned at the raw talent in the room. Samantha's hard work during the month was already paying off. Joyce's work was equally amazing.

The Phoenix Landing

1:30 - 3:00

There weren't a lot of people to sketch, but strolling into a bar with a crowd this large is fun. Unlike the Middle East, this room is wide with rows of tables and booths. This made sketching each other from various angles a lot easier. Like previous 'Crawls, the artists who did the least amount of talking did the best work. Aya's watercolor work was outstanding.

Oh yeah, the anti-Frank Miller discussion had to happen.

The Field

3:00 - 4:00

I forgot to take photos, so can't remember anything remarkable. I did notice that the same regular at the bar from previous 'Crawls was in the exact same seat again. The beer is starting to take effect. Must ... keep ... moving!

Tavern In The Square

4:00 - 4:45

Was looking forward to this site, based on the SketchCrawl 22. Back then, we walked right by the hostess and sat wherever we wanted. Saturday afternoons are usually slow for restaurants, so our Art Invasion wasn't a problem. Going through proper channels, we ran into a snag this time. The hostess told us we could only use a single table (allowing us only to sketch each other). Buy the time I negotiated a better arrangement, the artists decided to take advantage of the terrific weather by drawing outside!

Central Square Post Office Stairs

5:00 - 6:00

Staying indoors would've been stupid. Judging from the work, the artists must've felt liberated by the change in scenery. In particular, Joyce did an awesome job drawing a tree. Strangers came by to see what we were up to, and then — while getting in my shot — pose for pictures. At one point, I had to stop to verbally notice something: we've already gone farther than any other 'Crawl in Cambridge.

People's Republik

6:00 - 7:00

Arguably, this was our first true "dive bar". There was still enough daylight to make the place look "sketchy but not dangerous". It's combination of lighting, size, design and decor made this my favorite indoor setting so far.

The Cellar

7:00 - 7:10

Too crowded.

Grendel's Den

7:30 - 8:30

We made it! In only seven and a half hours, we covered one mile to Harvard Square! While the number of artists got smaller, the Grendel's crowd was almost standing-room-only. We drew, drank and talked through the final hour. Hyun and I drew the same German woman sitting at the bar. When approached by us, she said Hyun's portrait was "more flattering" while I got her "German cheekbones right". And Samantha — the only non-professional artist of the group — won the art-snob hearts with her hard work, determination and good spirit!

Thanks to everyone who participated, wrote about us, gave me tips on how to be a better leader, all the friends and families who gave emotional support to the rag-tag group of india-ink slingers. Extra thanks go to the bars, restaurants and coffee houses that let us hang out to draw.

For those who couldn't make it, we hope this 'Crawl looks fun enough for you to consider joining us next time!

SketchCrawl sample


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Simply posting on the SketchCrawl Forum isn't enough to generate a crowd. After all, it's only visible to people already know it's there; most people don't even know SketchCrawl exists. As proof of concept, the only one who showed up for SketchCrawl 16 was yours truly. Since I can sketch alone any time, the lack of other people for the 'Crawl was a resounding defeat. Sitting at the bar of The Druid Pub with nothing but my art supplies and IPA, the constant thought was "How can this not happen again?"

Register With SketchCrawl

  • Go the the SketchCrawl Forum
  • Register
  • Find the topic for the next 'Crawl (example: "25th World Wide SketchCrawl")
  • Once there, search for your city/town/neighborhood (mine is Cambridge MA)
  • If there isn't a 'Crawl in your city/town/neighborhood, create a new topic with the name of your city/town/neighborhood

That's it. It's nice to think my qualifications as an artist, professional and teacher got me this powerful position. In truth, however, it goes to the first person who registers. Welcome to open-source.

Tell People You're Alive

So, how do you promote an fun event that doesn't generate a dime? For SketchCrawl 20, I did the following:

What did all that promotional effort produce? Seven new artists and an interview with the Boston Phoenix.

My next event was SketchCrawl 22, which had eleven artists. The bottom line: if you want a decent turnout for your public event, tell people.


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