Building online community:

Seven years ago Enrico Casarosa, an artist working for Pixar went on a pubcrawl. He writes that the spirit of community inspired him to create a community for visual artists that he called Sketchcrawl. The first Sketchcrawl happened in 2004 in over 20 locations in six countires. Since then, there have been 33 Sketchcrawls and the event has grown to almost a hundred locations in over 20 counties and now has a website  The community now has over 3000 members and is still growing.  At first, only Enrico was moderating, but Sketchcrawl has since grown to have numerous other worldwide administrators organizing participation and the community has strong leadership in both Asia and Europe as well as in North America.

A Sketchcrawl is a day predetermined thoughout the world, where artists young and old, professional and amateur pledge to sketch for anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 hours.  The results of the event day are posted online for the whole worldwide community to see.  There are  some true gems in these online galleries. Participants speak of both the reward and difficulty of committing to draw for an entire day.  They recount the lucidity that comes from a full day of observation and moving from subject to subject.  They also comment on the difficulty of focusing their attention for so long. Side by side, these artists are creating a community through a shared experience and their love of art. Alongside their peers the collection of images lead us through a sense of movement throughout the day and objects and people that once were ignored as mundane become visible and interesting.

This community, built through a mutual love of the arts, is a strong sign of the growth of the arts online and should give the arts community at large hope for the future in the face of declines elsewhere.  The next Sketchcrawl is on January 21, 2012.  It is easy to sign up and there are also multiple social network sites for the community at large and for individual city groups.