Johanna Basford's sabbatical diary, week 8: Tell Johanna what to draw

This week has seen Johanna launch her first Kickstarter project, Wonderbeasts.

Johanna Basford is on a four-month sabbatical from paid work to concentrate on making herself a better artist, illustrator and all-round creative person.

Every week Johanna aims to publish a diary entry, which we'll be running on Digital Arts so you can follow the ups and downs – hopefully mainly ups – as she pushes her creativity and vision into new areas.

Week 8

This week has been all about launching my first Kickstarter project, Wonderbeasts. For it, I’ll be turning a huge blank sheet of paper into a monochrome menagerie of hand drawn insects, animals, birds and mythical creatures, each one suggested by a project backer.

You make a pledge and in return you get to decide what I draw.

The start of the week was a whirlwind of video edits, project descriptions and rewards – before submitting everything for the official Kickstarter thumbs up and unleashing it into the world on Thursday.

It’s a tense time. I’ve put the idea out there, now to see how many bites I get. I feel pretty exposed…

You can find out more about Wonderbeasts in the video below and how you can be part of the project here.

Wonderbeasts is almost like the continuation of my TwitterPicture project from 2011. Like most people on Twitter, I’ve experienced that crisis of faith where you stare blankly at all those 140 characters and think, “what the hell is the point? Surely there’s more to Twitter than telling the world what you had for lunch?”

It was this quandary that inspired TwitterPicture in 2011, my interactive drawing project where I drew your tweets.

Turns out there was more to Twitter than lunch.

Long story short, this idea of social media co-creation captured imaginations and lead to a handful of rather nice commissions for the likes of The Edinburgh Fringe, Smart Car, Famous Grouse, and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art.

Usually I’d have 24 hours to draw the hundreds of suggestions and create the final artwork, all under the watchful eye of a live webcam audience. It was exciting and challenging, but I was always left a little frustrated at the style (and quite frankly the quality) of the final artwork.

For this co-creation project I wanted to focus on the drawing: lose the constraints of a 24 hour deadline and the live streaming and instead concentrate on crafting something really beautiful – but still with the interactive element.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve allowed myself three weeks for the creation of this piece – not my usual 24 hours with zero sleep, little food and a whole lot of hand cramp – but three full weeks to sketch, amend, ink and tweak. What a luxury!

Post launch, the remainder of the week has been consumed with tracking the project’s progress. How many views/tweets/backers per day have I got? I’m currently in love with Kickstarter Stats, it’s like a whole new world of OCD has opened up to me.

This could be the distraction to end all distractions…

Learn how to successfully use Kickstarter to set up your own project.

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