If you’re looking for a way to connect with your local creative community, take a cue from a group of artists in Seattle. They created Drawnk, a regular meet up to make friends, have fun, and work on art.
Richard, our Community Director, attended a Drawnk event, and had this to say: "Drawnk" is perfectly named. It, like the meet up itself, is a playful union of art and drinking. In February, the group put on a Valentine’s Day-inspired gallery show called Punch Drunk Love. I swung by to check out the art, but what ended up really grabbing my attention was the community. Drawnk brings together folks from across the city to work alongside fellow artists in a relaxed, supportive environment.
Shortly after, we chatted with Casey Weldon, one of the group's founders, and a few other regulars about the importance of meeting in person, the inspiration they get from each meet up, and what goes down at these events.
How did Drawnk get started?
Casey Weldon: Often, after the local Seattle artwalk openings, several of us artists would get together for drinks and catching up. My friend Sail mentioned that we ought to do it more often and so we slowly started to meet more regularly, bringing our sketchbooks along so that we could be productive while hanging out. Or at least have the intentions of being productive.
What do you do at each meet up?
Casey: Every Wednesday we meet at one of three bars we rotate through different areas of the city. Then we just draw and chew the fat with old and new friends. Often there are collaboration exercises like an exquisite corpse (where a piece of paper is folded in threes and passed between three artists who can not see what the previous artist has drawn) and the scribble game (where two artists blindly draw a scribble until they are told to stop, they trade, and then make that scribble into a drawing.). We've done some fun backyard and rooftop BBQ's and last Christmas we had white elephant gift exchange, where we all brought our unwanted art supplies and traded them with those who thought they could use them. We've begun to organize exhibitions of the work from each week. Those too are at a bar, but where else could they be?
How many people typically attend? What do they do for a living?
Casey: I'd say somewhere between 15-30. It varies from location to location, and people come for a bit and leave early or arrive later. Some of us are full-time artists, and some of us work in fields that have nothing to do with art. Some of us work at graphic design firms, video game companies, print shops, and other various art related institutions. Syd Bee and Redd Walitzki both work at Bellevue Fine arts, which do the imaging and printing for the majority of the Seattle artists I know. Bellevue's owner, Scott Moore, is also a regular and contributes a lot to our extra curricular activities.
What have been the benefits of meeting up in person rather than only connecting online?
Kari-Lise Alexander: I think there has been many benefits. For myself, I’m painting at home all day and it’s nice to get out and see other artists. I get a chance to see what their working on and dabbling in, first hand. Also, the Drawnk is open to anyone who wants to come sketch. That means you meet novice artists all the way up to full-time professional artists. With that range people there’s so much that we can learn from each other, it makes it a really cool environment to be in.
What lessons or inspiration do you take away from each get together?
Redd Walitzki: It's been really inspiring to see the vastly different work people create at the Drawnks, and getting to watch other artists mess around in different mediums always gives me lots of new ideas! At first, it was pretty casual, and most people only brought sketchbooks and pencils or charcoal. But over time, it's gotten more intense and some people are bringing full portable painting setups. I've occasionally used watercolor for Drawnk studies, and some artists are even doing pieces they work on over the course of several weeks in acrylic, watercolor or colored pencil. We've also had a few "Live Model" nights, and it's always really interesting to see the way various artists approach figure drawing from life. You definitely come home with some new ideas and tricks after many of the Drawnks!
What's something unexpected that's developed from having Drawnk meet ups?
Casey: Honestly, everything about it. The fact it exists and is consistently attended still surprises me. I often fear that some nights it will be only drinking alone with my sketchbook, which I have no problem doing, but every week I keep meeting new people who are all incredibly talented, but more importantly genuine and sweet. I keep joking that there is only one jerk at every Drawnk, but no one is allowed to call them out (it's me).
Do you find yourself more inspired to create after a meet up?
Syd Bee: Oh, definitely! The Drawnk has become the weekly creative meet up. It has this wonderfully casual and friendly vibe. We've got all these folks ranging in skill and experience, happy to share with each other. The value of feeling connected within a community is immeasurable, and you end up taking that feeling home with you.
Casey: If you are ever in Seattle on a Wednesday night, come out and hang with us. We do our best to be as inclusive as possible, as we are all introverted hermits at heart and we know it can be tough to get out and hang with strangers. I honestly believe that almost everyone that attends has fun, no matter their level of artistic talent or experience.
Thanks to Casey and the gang for chatting with us! Don't forget to check out Casey, Kari-Lise, Redd, and Syd's Big Cartel shops. And if you're interested in attending a Drawnk gathering, grab all the details on their Facebook page.
Have something like Drawnk in your city that we should share with our community? Let us know.