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Changing Your Environment - Summer of Sketching

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When I first discovered the discipline of lettering, it felt like I had stumbled upon a goldmine. So many new things to learn and practice that were all right up my alley.

I researched endlessly and set out develop my hand lettering skills as much as possible. This meant sketching away hours upon hours, each day at my drafting table. 

After a few months I was starting to see steady improvement, but something was wrong.

I've heard the advice "show up every day" and "practice makes better" too many times to count, but I believe there are more factors that go into mastering a craft. One thing that I was not spending enough time on was getting outside exploring new places.

I needed real life experiences to draw from.

This was my life for 2013: I was freelancing from home, cooking most meals in my kitchen, and having friends over occasionally for drinks. I barely left my apartment, and this was resulting in me getting burnt out.

To push past this, I came up with an idea for a new personal project. I challenged myself to go out with my sketchbook and draw in a new place every weekend.

I let the environment guide my hand, so to speak.

Here are a few learnings from this series:

  • By going places you've never been before, you add new things to your visual vocabulary. Way beyond the trip, these excursions go on to inspire future projects.
     
  • Staying inside makes Eric a dull boy... But seriously, it's impossible to come up with fresh ideas without first experiencing life.
     
  • We are more creative when we are exposed to change (i.e. when the weather wasn't on my side, it created more constraints.)
     
  • Nothing exists in a vacuum – art needs context. This is why I photographed my sketchbook on new backgrounds each time, to show the context of where it was made.
     
  • It's difficult to get in the zone when there are so many distractions. This project helped me learn to focus despite the chaos, and also face the fear of making in public.
     
  • It doesn't matter where you live, and it doesn't matter where you go. There are always new things to see. Here are some of the sketches submitted from others on Instagram:
A handful of the #summerofsketching submissions over the past couple months. From left to right/top to bottom: Will Pay Roxy Prima, Kelsey Collins, Bob Ewing, Julián Muñoz, Winston Scully, Terence Tang, Davide Trap, Dane Gonzales, Tadas Vosylius, Scotty Russell, and Dan Lee

A handful of the #summerofsketching submissions over the past couple months.

From left to right/top to bottom: Will Pay Roxy Prima, Kelsey Collins, Bob Ewing, Julián Muñoz, Winston Scully, Terence Tang, Davide Trap, Dane Gonzales, Tadas Vosylius, Scotty Russell, and Dan Lee

I'm looking forward to continuing this project, but I don't think I will wait until next summer. Keep an eye out on Instagram for more sketches in the wild.
 

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Giveaway

Wait! Before the summer's over I am hosting a little giveaway based around this series. Five winners will receive an Optimist print and patch, a confidant sketchbook from Baron Fig, as well as a few of my favorite tools from CW Pencil Enterprise.

To enter, post a sketch on Instagram with the words "@efdot #summerofsketching giveaway" in the caption. The five winners will be announced in a week (Monday 9/21). Good luck!

Eric Friedensohn