For many aspiring writers November is a National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it is often referred to today, was founded by Chris Baty in 1999 in San Francisco Bay Area. It was ‘to use the power of the internet to make novel-writing easy and fun for everyone’. Since then more and more people join NaNoWriMo every year to challenge themselves to see if they can write a complete novel within 30 days. When I learned about NaNoWriMo from my husband Bill who writes novels for a living and took part in it last year I wondered if there is something similar for visual creatives, painters, photographers, or graphic designers.
After a quick search on internet Art Everyday Day Month came up. AEDM was founded by Leah Piken Kolidas ten years ago. As she says on her blog she took inspiration from NaNoWriMo. To cut the story short Leah was first publishing her art on her blog, later she invited other people to join in and the AEDM was born. We could rephrase a sentence from Chris Baty about the purpose of NaNoWriMo and apply it to AEDM: “AEDM is for everyone who ever wanted to create any kind of artwork.” Yes, if you join AEDM you can create and share anything from drawing, painting, designing, photography, jewelry making, video or poetry every day. On top of sharing the artwork being part of the AEDM online community allows to exchanges comments, encouragement and inspiration on daily basis among all participants. Unlike in NaNoWriMo you are not obliged to ‘count words’ or deliver a complete novel or artwork at the end of the month. That makes it more flexible and provides wider area to experiment and try virtually anything on the way if you wish.
Yes, there are many great things about AEDM but there are also challenges or downsides! If you are not a pro being used to showing your art in public then suddenly publishing your work can be scary. Moreover committing to exposing your artwork before knowing how each piece is going to turn out makes it more scary! Will it be good enough to share? What if there is not enough time some days to produce a decent creative work or any artwork at all? From my experience these struggles are common for many people, often even regardless of whether they are professionals or not. These thoughts and fear can stop you from showing your work or from doing it at all! That is the challenge you face if you join AEDM. That’s where AEDM works amazingly. The community apart of sharing their artwork often share all that comes with it; the everyday struggles they go through, personal obstacles they have to overcome, and different approaches to art and the project. Some are picking up pencils or brushes after a long break, others share already mature artwork. The community works as a catalyst and embraces each member in her or his unique circumstances.
This is my first time to be participating in AEDM. Each day for past eight days I posted a photo and each day I would look at new posts on the Facebook AEDM group, read through the comments, comment on some and would receive comments back. I had no idea about if I was doing it ‘right’. I did worry about it upfront, about what technique to use or what topic, what my approach should be. Should I post what I do every day in random manner or should it be more project like with an overall theme? I had many ideas and was not able to pick one. Then November first came and I found out that during my busy days this is not an issue any more. I had to publish something, anything. After first five posts my approach to the process crystallized: I take photos with my phone Nokia Lumia 930, use Instagram filters which gives me big pleasure to play with the light, shadows, sharpness and then all are saved in black & white. The topic is not specified. I capture all that looks beautiful or is special to me.
If I was to plan everything in advance the ‘project’ would most likely never be kicked off. It would never feel I have a ‘perfect plan’ or the right approach. This is a very important thing that a community project such as AEDM can do for you on top of other things. It can help take away your block to start working on your art. It forces you to ‘create and share anything’. If you accept that and go ahead you will discover something new about your creative process. I know that to some this might not sound like much. To me it has been so far a great experience and learning.
Thank you AEDM group. Thank you Leah Piken Kolidas.
My AEDM page: https://radkaking.wordpress.com/art-every-day-month/
Art Every Day Month: http://creativeeveryday.com/art-every-day-month