Thanksgiving is not a thing in The Netherlands, but I have been taking time to reflect on things this week, and I am feeling grateful. So much has happened this year! And especially at the beginning of this month, something big happened: SketchKon!
I’ve been thinking about it a lot so if you don’t mind I just want to share some of my experiences with you.
Many people in the Sketchbook Skool community have been asking us to organize an in-person event, for them to get the chance to meet each other in real life. It’s so wonderful how people in our online community make friends – no matter where in the world they are; Sketchbook Skool offers a safe place for people to connect with their peers. To encourage each other, to share their art and stories. Making art can make you feel vulnerable, so I feel honored that the online spaces we’ve created at Sketchbook Skool, are inhabited by so many artists of all levels, who feel safe and welcome there.
And now, after working on it for over a year, the first weekend of November, we held our very first convention: SketchKon. We wanted it to be an unkonventional konvention – and it certainly was! It was so amazing to see hundreds of people getting together all with the same purpose: to celebrate creativity.
Out of the comfort zone is where you learn most
SketchKon stretched over the weekend, but before things started, we had a pre-sketchkon day with all-day workshops by Sketchbook Skool fakulty. These workshops had limited access (about 25 people in a group), and I heard from the some of the participants that they learned so much, and that it was a great warm-up for the event. The teachers told me they had wonderful groups of dedicated people who were willing to be pushed out of their comfort zones in order to learn.
Friday and Saturday all day, and Sunday morning, we had four rooms available. Things were happening in each room every hour, all day. Workshops, lectures, demos, panel discussions, meet-and-greets, model drawing with a twist, book signings, and all sorts of social activities. 20 presenters, most of them from the Sketchbook Skool fakulty, plus two amazing keynote speakers made this all possible.
The sessions were so full of energy and inspiration – and of course, when attending one lecture, you would miss out on the three other things going on that hour – but the great thing was that we encouraged people to share the things they learned and the experiences they had. And sharing they did. The first morning, you would see someone sitting by themselves here and there, but by lunchtime, nobody was sitting alone. Even for the shiest of introverts, it was easy to join others.
During the weekend, I met so many amazing people. They shared stories, we took selfies, we sketched together. Being amongst ‘my tribe’ in real life was very special and I can’t really describe the wonderful feeling it gives me when I think back to it now.
Everywhere and all the time, people were drawing. During lectures, in sessions, during lunchtime, at the venue, in the streets… Moving around the venue, I felt enveloped by a happy, creative vibe!
Also, on Saturday evening we hosted a big party for all. That weekend happened to be Day of the Dead -so we made it the theme for the evening. People dressed up – some even made special costumes! For the first time in my life, I got to punch a piñata. It was filled with prizes from our sponsors (yesss we all need more art supplies!) for anyone who could catch the goodies. An all-women mariachi band played, while sexy Dr Sketchy models were doing poses for those who felt like a drink and draw session.
Fakulty member Prashant Miranda did an impromptu performance, singing his paintbox song on an old guitar that was hard to tune; he called it his drunken guitar. I told you: it was an unkonventional konvention.
In this, short note it’s hard to explain the unique experience! I feel like I’ still processing. But I hope that the idea comes across that it’s totally worth it to celebrate creativity. With this email I am hoping to funnel some of the inspiration and creative energy into your inbox, and onto your sketchbook!
Wherever you are in the world, and whether you’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving, or not, there’s always a reason to celebrate creativity. You don’t need to host or attend a convention to do so. It’s pretty simple. Make time to do what you love most: making art. That’s the best way to celebrate creativity!
I am truly grateful for everyone who follows me here on my blog, on social media, through email, and by finding my tips on Tuesdays on YouTube.
Thank you for following me along on my creative path!
Oh and here’s a quick flip-through of the sketchbook I managed to fill during the busy SketchKon weekend!
Hi I'm Koosje. I'm an illustrator and art teacher in Amsterdam, where I was born and raised. I went to school to study graphic design, then worked for ten years as an award-winning professional photographer. But eventually my love of drawing and painting took over and I became an illustrator. My illustrations have been published in many Dutch magazines and in 2011, I began blogging and started developing and teaching online art classes. In 2014 I founded Sketchbook Skool, which is a flourishing community of artists from around the world of all skill levels. View all posts by Koosje Koene