SketchCrawl Inc.?

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The good news is, the next announced sketchcrawl is October 16th.  I may organize one around Salem, MA.  It could be cool.

Well, maybe.

Right now, I’m on the fence. The email I rec’d from was very different from the fun, wide-open, no-rules announcements of the past.

First, there was this:

– A key thing, help us spread the word!
If you are reading this, we are sure you have a number of friends that might be interested in this as much as you are. Tell them about SketchCrawl! Let’s share this idea with the rest of the globe. No borders.

“No borders.”  I like that reminder. The idea of a global, art-based event always delights me.

So, I was in a happy mood, already thinking about where I’d like to organize a sketchcrawl in October.

Then, I reached the list of rules that weren’t on previous SketchCrawl announcements.  Here they are, cut-and-pasted from the email.

When you participate, please remember to:

-Notify us of any sketchcrawl events (as applicable)
-Link back to
-Give credit to Enrico Casarosa as the founder
-Must be a non-profit event
-Include sketches in and Flickr pool (as applicable)
-Try and time your sketchcrawls with the World Wide dates we promote at

Those sound reasonable enough, individually, but — in combination — they seem a little too much like corporate rules.

I did a quick check.  So far, the U.S. Trademark Database doesn’t show anything when I search for “sketchcrawl,” so the term “sketchcrawl” is still free to use without trademark-type restrictions.

However, it bothers me that I even thought to do that.

I may have to come up with a new word for these kinds of adventures.  I’m fine with giving the founder credit voluntarily, linking back to the official site, and so on, but… I dunno about this email from them.  Something in those rules feels a little hinky*.

Maybe it’s just the times, y’know?  Maybe I’m being hypersensitive. I’m seeing people staking out their own territory, trying to make money off things that were initially created to be free, fun and cool.  I don’t want to see SketchCrawls edging in that direction. It’d be like someone slapping a trademark on Earth Day.

I’m watching what’s going on, cautiously.

*”Hinky” is a reference to a term used by one of my favorite characters in the TV show, NCIS, to indicate something that’s not quite right.   (No, I don’t usually watch NCIS. I don’t like crime shows.  However, the character in the show… she’s truly cool.)

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3 thoughts on “SketchCrawl Inc.?”

  1. Hi, Aisling. Glad you wrote this.

    I was thinking of joining a sketchcrawl for the first time this October, until I read the rules — and I actually had the exact same reaction you had. So many rules seemed to take the fun out of it — especially since it seemed there weren’t really supposed to be any rules according to how I’ve seen sketchcrawls explained.

    Also, I really wanted to take my teen niece — who draws all the time, it seems — with me, but her family has Saturday as a religious holiday. I would have to go out to sketch on Sunday with her instead. So, I was not happy with the last rule “Try and time your sketchcrawls with the World Wide dates we promote at” at all.

    I mean, really, since the whole thing is going global, why would everybody be expected to start at the same day and/or time? That really just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Just sayin’.

  2. Hi Arielle,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m nodding in agreement.

    I’ve been enthusiastic about sketchcrawls until now. These changes sound too corporate… the exact opposite of why (and how) many of us enjoy art.

    Sure, I’m in favor of experimenting with limited color palettes, to push one’s skills, but that’s a self-imposed limit.

    Like you, I think the single-day approach is rather silly. Though they only say “Try and time your sketchcrawls…,” I’d be happier if it was an agreed-upon extended weekend, like a Friday through a Monday, simply to give us some focus and/or motivation to get out and sketch.

    Scheduling it on a Saturday takes a lot of very religious people out of the equation, and… well, that’s not right, especially if the concept is truly going global.

    I think we need a new word for the concept of sketchcrawls, and it needs to be kept in the hands of the artists. Sure, the people organizing and maintaining it should be recognized, but how we recognize them (and how much) should be up to the artists. I think we’re all eager to shine the spotlight on anyone who’s contributing to the community; that’s how the whole sketchcrawl scene evolved and was publicized.

    However, trying to take control of the spotlight and shine it on themselves…? I dunno. That sort of violates the original concept.

    I’d make one weekend a month the “official” weekend, and extend it for a four-day window, just to give it a general structure as people make plans. Then, anyone who wants to play and participate in the online community can do so. Or not. It’s up to them.

    I’d set up a site for this, but I just haven’t come up with a good alternative word for the sketchcrawl concept… yet.


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