Where have I been?

I have spent the last two weeks doing everything but writing blog posts. Let me catch you up on what I’ve been up to, as I hope that you will be a beneficiary of my efforts.

Last fall, we presented SketchKon, the first Sketchbook Skool convention, and when it was over, we did a lot of stock taking. It had been a wonderful opportunity to meet many of the people who had taken kourses with us and who had formed our vibrant community. We learned so much in those few days and came away even more determined to give you exactly what you want and need to make art making a joyful part of your lives.

One of the things that was abundantly clear is that we should try to do this again. So we set to work immediately to make plans for another SketchKon, this time on the East Coast so Yankees and folks from Europe would find it easier to attend. The ink is still drying and we’re not quite ready to share the details yet, but I can say that we have an even better event in the works and that it will take place in mid October. We’ll make a formal announcement in a few weeks and launch a new website. I wanted to let you in on this early as I don’t want you to miss out — they’re telling me this event will sell out fast. If you are at all interested in joining, I’d urge you to mark your calendar for the second or third week in October and signup right away to take advantage of the early bird pricing.

Another conclusion we drew from SketchKon is that people are very interested in drawing each other. Our life drawing workshops and portrait parties were huge successes and when we polled our attendees afterwards, there was rabid consensus that drawing the figure, drawing people in motion, foreshortening, portraits and such was something we’d all like to learn more about.

To that end, we’ve set about making our first kourse devoted entirely to this subject. We’ve spent months thinking about the best way to teach and present it and finally decided to get together a large group of our favorite people-sketchers and compare and contrast their approaches. As we worked on this survey, we confirmed that, despite what Bridgman and Nicolaides and all those manga books and YouTube videos might have you think, there is no one way to draw people. In fact, there are as many ways to draw people as there are people to draw. This perspective helped us plan out the structure of the kourse.

Koosje and I pulled a bunch of models and artists from the US and Europe onto a soundstage and we spent days and days filming our exploration of the subject. We shot dozens of demos and recorded in-depth conversations full of tips and techniques. The resulting kourse, People Drawing People, will debut in a month or so and it is fascinating and inspiring. I’ll let you know more very soon when we make it available.

It’s been more than five years since we launched the first kourse at Sketchbook Skool and things have developed beyond our wildest expectations. People Drawing People will be our 25th kourse (I think), more than 50,000 people have enrolled in the Skool, we have 49 teachers, and the 19,000th person just joined our community on Facebook. We have six full-time people on our team now as well as a huge virtual support staff of cinematographers, editors, bookkeepers, marketeers, and all the folks who help us put on SketchKon.

We’ve come a long way since I was working in an LA garage and Koosje was still a part-time barista. Neither of us had ever run a company before and we have improvised all sorts of kluge-y solutions to deal with new challenges. It’s been a wonderful creative exercise but we have had to finally sit down with some experts to get a handle on the whole thing and get ourselves organized. To that end, we have been working on long lists and flowcharts and spreadsheets and ventured way out of our comfort zone as artists. Our goal is to keep Sketchbook Skool manageable so we have the time and resources to keep on making cool things and we have made some real headway in the last few months.

Have you ever run a business? It’s a fascinating and terrifying experience and I have had to do a huge amount of soul-searching in the process. My monkey has struggled wildly with me throughout, screeching at each new step into the unknown. Sometimes I feel like a poseur pretending that this humble enterprise is a bonafide company. I worked with so many CEOs over my years in advertising and they seemed like a species apart from me, with huge offices and expensive haircuts and legions at their command. But like most creative folks, trying to figure out how to make something in collaboration with others is something I am used to doing. It’s not magic or rocket science. I just need to remind myself of why we are doing this, who we are serving, and that doing it decently is a matter of mastering some new skills and tools, getting advice from wise mentors, and putting in the work.

Oh, and I have this new book bubbling on the stove. My publisher tells me that there’s been loads of interest in How To Draw Without Talent and they are itching to get it out there. That’s encouraging. Now I just need to find a day or two to do some final work on my design files and we will be able to send it off to the printers. The book will be out in September and I can’t wait.

What else? Oh, yes, we have three other new kourses in development. We will be heading to Europe to film the first one next month, we will finish outlining the next one in a few weeks, and the third one is morphing into new shapes and forms as we talk to a gang of new collaborators. Whew.

I hope this report doesn’t come off as hubris. I really enjoy writing this blog and sharing ideas with you and figured I should let you in on why I’ve been absent. Despite all the stuff going on, I have been eager to get back to it and I plan to return to the normal bi-weekly schedule next week. I promise it will contain less advertising and more helpful new ideas. Thanks for your patience.

38 thoughts on “Where have I been?”

  1. Glad to hear that y’all are planning another SketchKon. I propose that the third one should be on the Gulf Coast. 😉🎨🇨🇱

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Danny, who knew when you started this wee idea it would turn into a Real business?! Personally I’m thrilled. There is so much out there for us online in the way of classes. You, Sketchskool Skool, and your kourses are quality productions. They’re a terrific value for the price. The production is very professional and variety of artists/teachers excellent. I’m able to meet artists that I’d never have access to otherwise. Thank you and Koosje for all your hard work on our behalf. You’re the Best!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for the update Danny. Somewhere in all of this there has to be a klass on how to navigate SBS. I know it is impossible just putting it out there. Not necessarily a klass but a best practices sort of thing. My monkey kind of likes this sort of stuff. Forget it, just keep doing what you are doing.


  4. Mind boggling what you all have accomplished in five short years!
    And equally so how it’s affected so many lives in positive ways. I can only really speak for myself, but take yesterday for instance. Because of sketchbook Skool I spent time drawing in the morning, I later spent the afternoon with another SBS Klassmate at an art show where I spoke to several other artists. I did share information about Sketchbook Skool with others. My new friend and I are both members of a Sketchbook Buddies group of 25 plus local artists, who meet twice a month to draw together. I did attend SketchKon 2018 and I plan to attend SketchKon 2019 in October. I draw nearly everyday and drawing has become part of my fiber art as well.
    I’ve taken most all of the Klasses offered in Sketchbook Skool. I’d say it’s a huge part of my daily life, as I spend a lot of time hanging out in the FB playground ogling and being inspired by other SB folks art making and receiving feedback about my art posts there. I’ve made so many new friends there. People I really care about and who I feel care about me.
    I’m just one of the 50,000 Danny! My experience isn’t unique! Think about it! You and Koosje have created something huge, magical, wondrous! Be proud! And thanks! I need to get going. It’s almost time for me to go to Starbucks and draw the people there! I might even strike up a conversation with someone, who I tell about Sketchbook Skool! Ya just never know.
    Thanks again. ❤️❤️❤️ Color me grateful.


  5. Exciting news, for sure. You’re doing a great job with the skool. I’ve gained confidence in my drawing skills because of the kourses ive taken with such good teachers. And I’m grateful that momentum is ever increasing. Thanks Danny.


  6. I can only echo the sentiments of Lynn Cohen above, who said it all and I couldn’t find better words. Although I don’t participate in any outside SBS groups, it has changed my life in the past 3 years and I now do some kind of art every day- that was something I dreamed of for so many years. With you and the rest of the great SBS group, it’s happened and my drawing and painting skills are markedly better than ever. And…. just yesterday I was wondering about another Sketchkon. I didn’t get to go last year- maybe I can this year. Thanks again to you and Koosje for creating this amazing playground for so many of us.


  7. 2019-Week 42 and 43 are set aside! I’m joining SketchKon again! Has it really been 5 years! Wonderful community!


  8. A lot to look forward to! What about some virtual SketchKon sessions for those of us who may not be able to attend in person?


      1. I really want to participate!!! Having SketchKon in Pasadena was great because I live here, but getting back East would be tough (family, teaching schedule, $$…).


  9. Oh, Danny, you have shared so much of yourself in the last 5 years that in my mind you are a close friend. The other night you were featured in a dream about being an artist, in which you validated me and my work. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.


  10. I am so excited about absolutely everything in this post!! I’m looking forward to every single thing. I’m in Ohio!!! East sounds good!!!! Will the amazing Tommy Kane be a part of it???? So many teachers I just love and can’t imagine being able to see in person…you, Tommy, Prash, Mel Reim and ok, all of them. Sketchbook School is a wonderful part of my life. Thank you!!! 💜


  11. Looking forward to the new class and another Sketchkon. I am anxious to hear where it will be? Boston, NY, Hartford. I’m hoping Boston but since you live in the big Apple, a no brainer?


  12. I love that you and SBS keep reinventing yourselves. Sketchbook Skool has definitively changed my life. I had already begun a practice of drawing but so needed a support and SBS was it. The skool started the same year I moved with my partner and dog to the secluded wilds of Labrador. How perfect it was to have Friday videos to anticipate in a place where both coffee shops and art stores were non existent. Now I’m back in Nova Scotia which is much more cosmopolitan with so many distractions, but my practice is solid. Today I posted my 66th tree of the year. I’m drawing and painting every day. I have converted several pals and now when we get together we haul out our sketchbooks and fly atter. I’ve run several businesses, all based on creative need – some people like the game of entrepreneurship and some are makers that fall into entrepreneurship to support their creative needs. Makes no difference. Keep on keepin on and we’ll trail along – a joyful chorus!


  13. Thanks for the update Danny, I am so ready for this new kourse!!! I love drawing people & always keen to learn more approaches. You & Koosje & the rest of the gang at SBS are doing terrific work, you are all so attentive & responsive to what your students are looking for; look forward to the new kourse & hoping I can get to Sketchkon 2019 too. Cheers, t


  14. It’s been great to participate for the last 5 years and look forward to the new developments. A virtual sketchKon for the ones off center – or Down Under would be great! Cant’t wait for the people sketch people and maybe more klasses like Watercolor rules with other media? Trust you will hear us!


  15. There are more and more classes out there (on a whole variety of art topics of course) but I think Sketchbook Skool has a special niche…very high quality. I mention it in all my sketching classes which I do mostly for seniors (and mostly for women…sigh…yes I know you wrote on THAT topic already). I am so pleased that your health issues have been set aside and hopefully for good. We all worried and prayed while you were going through this. You seem to be getting back to full speed ahead!!! AND this of us that live in the south in the winter and the midwest in the summer hope that a Sketch Convention will be in one of those spots some day. What about Florida in the winter? We all ADORE Koosje and her Tuesday Tips are AMAZING. WHAT a gift. Keep up the great work.


  16. Wow! I am so excited about all the new courses, a new book, and a second Sketchkon. I have been enrolled in SBS since the beginning and love it. Thank you and Koosje for all your hard work in starting this creative venture! I’ve been teaching elementary/middle school art for 39 years. Being a part of SBS inspires and enlightens me, which in turn, inspires my students.


  17. What I’ve gained from Sketchbook Skool, Draw Tip Tuesdays, your blog (and books) is immeasurable. I can honestly say not a day has gone by in the last 5 years that I haven’t been impacted or reminded of something I’ve learned or food for thought that I’ve read about that I’ve gained from first being introduced to SBS 5 years ago (thank you Jane LaFazio). I LOVED SketchKon. It was a dream come true, and I’m holding off scheduling an Alaska trip until I know when the next one will be. Thank you so much, Danny, for all you do. I’m sure it has been a real struggle at times but we so appreciate it.


  18. We have missed your voice but very happy to hear that the time is spent for the benefit of SBS! I will anxiously await the dates and locale for the next Sketchkon. As you know, I thoroughly enjoyed the last one! Best, Lenore


  19. Too much fun! If I finish my SBS homework, eat all my veggies, and clean up my studio, can we have Sketchkon East in Boston? Pretty please?


  20. Thank you so much for sharing this! It is exciting to know that Sketchcon is coming to the East Coast, and it was inspiring to hear where you started with Sketchbook Skool and where you are now. Congratulations!!! That is truly amazing, and we are so grateful that you share your time and expertise with all of us.


  21. I echo the sentiment the SBS has changed my life. I also run a business – owning and operating 4 restaurants – so my time is very limited but SBS got me back in a regular practice and I schedule time to make art happen. Although the business varies greatly from what you do, I understand the stress of having a lot of people depending on you, growth, cash flow, etc. etc. I remember a time when SBS was first exploding and you shared that you questioned if this is what you really wanted. I’m so glad you persevered. Your mission of creating a place where everyone can do art has been realized and we are all so grateful. On another topic (and you may have already addressed this in another post) what happened to your podcast? I really enjoyed listening to that. Will you return to it?


  22. Love and use your books to keep me motivated and creating. Looking forward to the new one in September. Already 5 years since SBS started I’ll always remember that first class!


      1. Thanks, Danny ! I thought I was subscribed to the zine, but just signed up again–now I’ll have to make it a point to read it carefully.


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