Last year I read this article on Bust about Ladies’ Drawing Nights, an art event hosted by New York-based artists Julia Rothman, Leah Goren and Rachel Cole. I thought the idea was delightful and wanted to join a ladies’ drawing group myself.
I love to draw, but I’m not great. I’ve never taken classes or anything and I possess very little natural ability. Drawing always seemed like one of those things you leave behind in childhood unless you’re great at it. When you’re a kid, you’re all about the drawing, every story has to be illustrated and each piece of artwork is met with great acclaim. As an adult, however, unless you’re extremely talented, drawing is not encouraged – because it’s no longer cute how terrible you are. The same goes for ballet and singing publicly but not, unfortunately, playing the guitar. Anyone who knows two chords is allowed to pick one up and start strumming.
But fuck that, I wanted to join a ladies’ drawing night and the best way to do this was to start one. I was encouraged by the article itself and also inspired by my friend Dervilia, who started a map club. Basically, she’s really into maps and wanted to join a map club but there were none, so she started her own. That’s the best way to do things. If you want something that doesn’t exist, make it yourself. This probably doesn’t apply to everything, but to clubs and groups, it definitely does.
Lady Drawers is a relaxing space for women to come together to discuss feminism and make art – at least, that’s our tagline. We also gossip and talk nonsense and listen to music and comedy (ideally written/performed by women though we’ve been slipping on that lately – Kate Nash, Robyn, Miranda Hart and Mindy Kaling have been past inspiration/entertainment). We have snacks, of course, though unlike the New York Ladies’ Drawing Night, our event is dry. There’s no reason we couldn’t drink and draw but we just don’t happen to.
It’s rare to find an all-female non-competitive dry activity so, to me, these events are pretty special. Each session has a theme to help us get started, we all vary in ability but the end results always look wonderful! You can see some of them on my Instagram, if you can sieve through the selfies and food.
If you’re thinking of setting up a club or group of your own, here are some tips to help you get started, some more useful than others.
- Is this something you want to do? Then you already have your first member! It’s very likely, then, that you’ll get a second member because you are not that unique.
- Start small, invite a few friends that you know are interested – for Lady Drawers, I posted on facebook then invited those interested (who still lived in the country) to the group.
- These things can be a great way to meet like-minded people if that’s your thing, but I already know enough like-minded people, to be honest. Dervilia founded the club with her friend and picked up some other enthusiasts via meetup.com. That’s a good resource if your club/group is something more niche than feminist drawing – shark dentistry or American hotel matchbooks, for example.
- Decide where you’ll host it – I always have Lady Drawers in my house because I have so many pencils and I enjoy wearing my pajamas, but it’s a nice idea to rotate the hosting, especially if it’s a messy activity like baking or a sex thing.
- Pool your resources – I have plenty of materials for drawing, but most people bring their own sketchpad and pencils. If you want to host a similar event, people could bring their favourite materials for arting and everyone could swap around.
- Don’t worry if it’s not an immediate success, these things take time. I tried to start a book club about three years ago and my co-founders suggested Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries as our first book, which both of them already had. To this day, I am the only one who has finished it. You can always scrap them and start afresh with new friends, right?
- On that note, maybe start slowly with modest expectations. The Luminaries is 848 pages and bigger than most of my handbags.
- Come up with a catchy name. Lady drawers is funny because we are ladies and we’re drawing but also because of PANTS.
- Just do it.
I know that last one is the Nike slogan but I think it’s bigger than sportswear. If you want something done, do it yourself. If you build it, they will come. These are cliches for a reason.
The greatest things are born out of passion, and some of them are born out of something “sounding pretty cool”. Go and start something you can be proud of!