6 Stages of my drawing challenge/bender (2016 v 2017)

When you set yourself a challenge like, a 30 day or week challenge, I think it’s safe to say the last thing you’re thinking about is “what will I learn from this” rather… “what the f have I gotten myself into”.  At the end of the day, a challenge is a challenge but for anyone looking for some extra work for themselves and to test things out in a less serious way - a challenge is perfect for you. Set yourself a challenge not for perfection, but to grow and learn and surprise yourself with what’s possible and breaking limits. Like the 30 day challenge from last year, my Mercedes Benz Fashion Week challenge was just as incredibly rewarding, if not more. So I thought I’d finally share what I’ve learnt since my last drawing challenge and share the 6 stages of my drawing benders…

 1] The seed has been planted

When setting yourself up for a challenge I think what helped me most was having a purpose. Is there an event coming up? A shared challenge like “Inktober”? It’s also worth thinking about what you want to get out of it and planning around that. For example, 30 days of Bill ended up being not only dedicated to Bill but also an experimental challenge - using only analogue mediums, most that were totally foreign to me, whereas MBFW was all about drawing my favourite looks from the week and seeing where I am now with certain mediums again. Both the Bill Cunningham and MBFW series were both pre-planned series, from there it was just a matter of setting the time and plan of attack.

2] Holding yourself accountable - making it public

Although everyone works differently, accountability generally means the same for all - STICK TO IT! For me, once it’s out there, it’s done and I’m not going back. Announcing it and getting people ready to watch your challenge is a positive start and when it comes to social media, challenges can work really well in your favour. If you’re having it directed to an event or someone(s) that have influence, that can be used as a strong tool to get those people noticing and the people that follow them, flowing to your account and also creating a hashtag so that people can easily watch the progress. I’ve found people also like to see the journey and end result, like live drawing it may be a slow start but once you’re well and truly into it, excitement builds around you.

3] “Fuck” stage

This is usually my first (few days) stage. Both series went very different for me in this stage, 30 days of Bill hit me like a tidal wave - I was so unprepared for what I had started, initially I hadn’t planned for it to be an experimenting challenge, but I decided to embrace that idea near the beginning. I managed to keep up with the challenge but it definitely stayed true to the word “challenge” for me. MBFW - although a short series in time, had no limits - with so many shows, 1000’s of photos and inspiration flying at me like dogeballs there was really nowhere to hide (not that I wanted to) so I just decided to embrace this challenge in a different way to the last and go f’ing gung ho, drawing absolutely any photo I found special and as much I could do in a week. The “Fuck” stage does cool down but don’t get disheartened by it when it comes up.

4] Tunnel vision

Plain and simple…the “Fuck” stage has passed, you’e in the clear with expectations and you know there’s an end. Now it’s just time to power through, stay on top of it and make the most of it, a challenge is supposed to be a positive thing even the previous stage is worth a laugh.

5] Light at the end of the tunnel

You’re more than likely in full swing by now and enjoying it - you’re seeing your work change and get better. I looked forward to the end for the 30 days of Bill series more than MBFW, I think that might be because of the length of time. Note: a month long challenge is a commitment, especially if you plan on going hard for the full term and making it very public, it also makes the ending very, very sweet. It’s super important to enjoy the challenges we set ourselves and acknowledge what we’ve accomplished in that time - which leads to the final stage…

6] “Best idea ever” stage

“I finished, for the love of god, I did it *pants*” - Alex 2016 + 2017. As much as I challenge myself - I came out of both series so incredibly stoked with what I’d accomplished. With anything you do (creative or not) it’s so important to acknowledge all the stages you go through and the end result when you come out of it. For me both challenges where incredibly rewarding at a surprising level. 30 days of Bill, not only was my biggest challenge I’d set myself but tested my skill level with all different mediums and for a solid 30 days. MBFW - honestly blew me away, it was only near the end had I realised in a week I had almost created the same amount of piece in a month last year!? And with both series I took time to accept not every piece was perfect but a challenge isn’t there to create perfection, it’s there to push.