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Industry Insights

Inking Outside The Box!

31 days. 6 team members. A lot of drawings.

Every October, artists all over the world take on what’s called the “Inktober” drawing challenge, daring themselves to do one ink drawing a day for the entire month. It’s a great exercise to stretch creatively and sharpen drawing skills.

Since this was our first year participating, our team opted to start slow, committing to drawing one drawing per week. Each Thursday, one member drew something based on the official prompt for the day. All of our drawings connected to the landscape profession in some way to keep it even more interesting (and challenging!)

This post compiles all of our finished drawings with the sketches, as well as the stories behind each drawing. The goal? To give you a little insight into how the creative process unfolds for our designers. Enjoy!

Jason Bouwman, our owner and principal, was up first. His prompt was the word “bait.” This is the contractor’s version of carrots and sticks. He calls it “Timmies and sticks.” And he scrapped the donkey, swapping it with an excavator.

Our Art Director Nick’s prompt was the word “pattern.” Our team helped him brainstorm ideas, settling on the beautiful patterns left behind by a lawnmower. Nick was inspired by the designs of traditional Celtic knots and connected that with the idea of overlapping checkers left on a freshly cut lawn.

Diego’s prompt was “ornament.” He immediately thought of the iconic Little Tree car air freshener, those hanging paper evergreens that adorn the rearview mirrors in countless trucks and cars. We all loved the idea but thought we could add a twist.

As an ode to our landscaping and contracting clients, Diego drew what he thinks is a missing scent in the Little Trees portfolio… “gasoline.”

Little Trees actually come in many more scents than the classic Royal Pine. There’s also Leather, Bourbon, Strawberry, Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum, Pina Colada… the list goes on. They even have one called “Vanillaroma.” But they definitely don't have anything like this one.

Teri’s prompt was “Dizzy.”

The beauty of old, worn-out tires is that they still have a lot of uses. Whether it’s tire swings or a tractor-tire playground, they're always good for some horsing around!

When Teri was a kid, she found an old tractor tire with her siblings and cousins, getting her dad to hang it from a tree for them to swing around on.

As we brainstormed as a team, we were inspired by the "dizzying" amount of childhood memories we had: somersaulting down hills, spinning in circles, going on amusement park rides. But the one that stuck was rolling around inside of tire. If you haven’t tried it, it’s never too late!

On Halloween, the very last day of #Inktober, our Web Designer Jeremy went a little gruesome with his drawing. His prompt was “ripe.”

There were two inspirations for this drawing. The first is the video game, “Fruit Ninja.” It’s a game where you chop through fruit with a variety of ninja weapons. A watermelon chopped in half with a ninja sword is featured on the cover. (Yep, it’s awesome.)

The second inspiration is a childhood memory. As Jeremy tells it, when the colder weather came around in the fall, his dad would start heating up the woodstove. Jeremy would go out to their family’s 36-acre woodlot to help his dad cut wood by chainsaw.

This was followed by getting the family tractor stuck in the mud. And then getting the other family tractor stuck trying to get the other one out. According to Jeremy, this happened consistently every year. Usually, they needed their family car to get the tractors out. Classic.

He added some red digitally after finishing his original sketch. Some of us here in the office think this gives it a bit of a gory look. Spooky!

Old School = Out of Our Comfort Zone

There’s something really cool and tactile about going back to pen and paper. Despite all the technology at our fingertips, we went old school. Some of the major takeaways? Classical drawing stretches your muscle memory and dexterity. It also drives creativity. More importantly, it’s a skill that you need to keep practicing like everything else.

And that’s not to mention the time crunch (we limited each team member to five hours or less) as well as the challenge of coming up with an idea… and then figuring out how to execute it!

As a team, practicing a creative activity like this together is a regenerative activity. It makes our work better in the long term and gets us thinking about new ideas and connections.

In short: it was fun!

P. S. Jay ran the full marathon!

Jay drew every single day of the month, posting his drawings in the kitchen at the Compass office. Here's some of the highlights!

Written by Dan Galenkamp

November 22, 2019