Saturday, January 2, 2016

The 'Stupid Drawing' Challenge

-By Vanessa Lemen

I recently found a sketch book that I decided would be fun to share here. There are some pretty funny and wonderful drawings in it by several different artists. Here's the story...

A few years back, one night during the week of ComicCon in San Diego, many of us had gathered in the old meeting spot of the lobby of the Westin hotel. There was quite a large crowd of people, and it was a mixed group of friends, acquaintances and friends of friends or strangers that were soon-to-be-friends.

Many of us carry around a sketch book to draw in while hanging out, and I happened to have a new one that had not been drawn in yet. I can't remember how it all started, but I suddenly found myself being challenged by Rick Berry to a “who can draw stupider” battle. He actually sounded off with a very loud whistle which silenced the entire lobby full of people, and he announced that we were going to start the battle for anyone who'd like to watch.

It started off as a one-on-one battle. First, Rick drew something to which I argued “That's not stupid enough!”, and then I'd draw my attempt. (Apparently, I was really competitive, and thought for sure I had this one in the bag). After a couple of those, we ended up even doing some collaborative 'stupid drawings', until many people began to gather around to witness this battle of 'bad' drawing. Much to our delight, the battle grew to any and all who challenged us.. or anyone who just wanted to try their hand at 'stupid drawing'. It made for a really entertaining night!

What happened was pretty interesting, and aside from accumulating quite a great group of quick drawings that each of us thought would surely be the Winner of Stupid, we all realized that drawing a 'stupid drawing' really wasn't as easy as it might've seemed. What it came down to was always the question “what is stupid?” Though many drawings might've been silly, perhaps a little less tasteful (some might say), or an attempt at 'bad' (as in not as good as one might usually draw), none could really be deemed 'stupid'. Some tried scrawling more crude drawings or sketches that seemed more childlike, but these also didn't really equate to stupid. It ended up really getting us all to think, and had some of us realizing that to not think while drawing isn't necessarily the equivalent of stupid either.

I've since occasionally taken this sketch book to other get-togethers and asked people to draw in it – only 'stupid drawings' are allowed in this particular sketch book. It's yet to have been graced with a drawing that might fit the criteria, and it's pretty apparent that it really may never happen. I'm sharing just a few of the drawings here. This book now has about 50 pages filled front and back, and really is a hoot to flip through.

The first drawing of the challenge.

A 'stupid drawing' collab.

This artist actually drew this giraffe with no hands, but by holding the pen between her breasts.

A new spin on the ol' hand-traced turkey.

Throwing swaddled babies is definitely stupid, yes, but the drawing itself is pretty funny/clever.

A collection on facing pages by several different artists.

If anyone feels so inclined to try their hand at drawing a 'stupid drawing', please share it! I'm sure everyone would love to see it! And it would be great to hear your thoughts about the experience and/or outcome too!


  1. I drew a self portrait once.. ehh? ehhhhh?

    ... points for stupid joke, at least?

  2. Nice thought provoking post (and I was going to take the day off from thinking!)
    Stupid: lacking intelligence or common sense. If you use that standard definition then how DO you define that in a drawing? How do you 'undo' your training?
    Well, I have called my own drawings stupid but only when I am actually trying and fail miserably. But then it probably is not the drawing that is stupid in that moment.
    Maybe it has to be less childlike?
    I would like to see more pages.

  3. I taught a class with kids where we folded paper into thirds. First drawing at top - the head of an animal. Next drawing (can't see top) was middle by a different person. Then the bottom third. The drawings were hilarious. The kids couldn't stop laughing.

    1. I played the same game when I was a kid, the surrealists called it "exquisite corpse".

  4. I love these sketches ! I don't find them stupid at all :D !!


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