Thinking of starting a 365 Project? Some advice…


Two years ago I was about to start a project that would take a year to complete and is, in some senses, ongoing. I made, as I’m sure regular readers of my blogs and whatnot know, a drawing for every day of 2013. I’d often thought of doing something protracted, but usually in the middle of March and I’d always shelve it until January 1st. Of course, on that day I’d be too distracted or forgetful to start anything much.

So, perhaps you’re thinking of attempting something that will take a year to complete and want to start, appropriately enough, on January 1st. Good, you’ve got a few days to think about it and to sort out a strategy. I’m assuming that you want to generate something that you wouldn’t otherwise do. That might be physical: in my case it was drawings, but it could be text (and there are LOADS of people online who recommend that you write every day, regardless of content), or perhaps something more crafty (embroidery or cross stitch would work) or perhaps something less tangible (reading to your kids, maybe).

Whatever you decide to do I offer the following top tips:

1 – Choose something that’s tricky but achievable. Small stuff done daily builds up surprisingly quickly. You can make the intangible tangible by ticking off a calendar.

2 – If you need to prepare stuff, do as much of it as possible ahead of time. This will allow you to concentrate on the activity, not the ancillary stuff that it generates. When I did my 365 drawings, I worked from photographs that I prepared in batches using Photoshop. It meant that when I sat down to work, I could get straight on with the work and not faff about choosing subjects, finding paper and so on. Make it easy to work.

3 – You’ll miss a day. Don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t abandon the project because of it. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make a drawing on every single day, so I allowed enough flexibility in the system for me to be able to get ahead of myself. If I was home and quiet on a Sunday, I might do Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday’s drawings. This meant that on monday and Tuesday evening I could produced the rest of the drawings for the week. It might not be absolutely in the spirit of the thing, but I did get to the end of the year. If you’re reading to your kids for 30 minutes a day, I don’t recommend sitting them down for three and a half hours on Sunday evening, though.

4 – Go public. Let people know you’re doing it. If you’re like me, you’ll feel that somebody, somewhere is waiting to know what you did today. I created a blog and scheduled a drawing to be published each day. To date the blog had has over 20,000 hits (a lot of them are me, I suspect). I also posted an album on Facebook for friends to see.

That’s it really. If I were to offer only one of these tips, it would be the first one. A relatively small commitment of time each day builds up. This blogpost has taken about ten minutes to write and consists of about 600 words. If I did that every day I’d have 219,000 words or so this time next year, which is just a bit longer than Moby Dick. Okay, so it’s quality not quantity that matter in the long run, but quality comes from quantity.

What staggered me is that my technical skills improved hugely over the twelve months. I could tackle much more ambitious and complex images in December than I would have dared try in January.

Good luck.


Carrying the Image Across: Drawing as Translation

This is the abstract for the round-table discussion that I will be hosting in a couple of weeks at the On The Image conference in Berlin. The drawing, published in my previous post, will be shown as part of the conference.

The act of translation generates hybrid objects that are positioned, Janus-like, on a threshold between spaces. Although usually thought of as the mediation of one linguistic form into another, this research explores an expanded definition to explore visual reiteration and using that to investigate knowledge production.

Translators stand between source and audience, using footnotes and prefaces to acknowledge their work’s shortcomings and contingent status. This practice-led research, in which images of art works by others are redrawn, uses knowledge from one discipline – translation theory – to better understand and reframe reiterative visual art practice. Antoine Berman’s ‘twelve deforming tendencies of translation’, for example, offer a yardstick against which to test reiteration, exposing and codifying the inherent flaws and difficulties of the practice.*

Carrying across knowledge from translation theory and applying it to the visual is an analogue of the translation process itself, folding practice and theory together. Discussion of how drawing might be akin to translation provides an equivalent of this research: testing and investigating how contingent art works provide, en passant, negotiated encounters where rethinking ideas of authorship, originality, and learning can take place.

*Translator Antoine Berman (1942–1991) identifies/codifies the following ‘deforming tendencies’ that he considers likely to occur in even the most conscientious and diligent acts of translation:

  • Rationalization
  • Clarification
  • Expansion
  • Ennoblement
  • Qualitative impoverishment
  • Quantitative impoverishment
  • The destruction of rhythms
  • The destruction of underlying networks of signification
  • The destruction of linguistic patternings
  • The destruction of vernacular network or their exoticization
  • The destruction of expressions and idioms
  • The effacement of the superimposition of languages.

After Joseph Beuys’ Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values)

After Joseph Beuys' Wirtschaftswerte
After Joseph Beuys’ Wirtschaftswerte (1980), pencil on sixteen paper panels (2014)

The piece reproduced here is a redrawing of a photograph, taken by me, of the Joseph Beuys sculpture that was the centrepoint of last year’s ArtSheffield event: Wirtschaftswerte (Economic Values, in English.) It’s made in pencil on sixteen paper panels that are assembled to make a compound square drawing about one metre across. As with other drawings, I reinstate the ‘square’ of the image by erasing material outside the grid used during transfer process. I have left a thin border around each drawing, meaning that when the full piece is assembled a white grid is created that appears ‘in front’ of the subject, much in the way that the shelves of Wirtschaftswerte are in front of wall-mounted paintings.

There’s more information about the source material here.

It occurred to me during my 365drawings show at Bank Street Arts that a large single image could be completed in stages, rather than as a single object. Logistically, this appealed to me as I find it easier to work using an A2 clipboard on my lap or at a small table which makes the creation of large drawings difficult.

Making a work this way would also introduce problems. For instance, the ‘look’ of the thing could change as I progressed and the separate sections would be unlikely to perfectly match up. As I am discovering in my research it’s this kind of interruption or difficulty that provides an opportunity for learning and progress.

At the moment, there are no plans to show the work.

After 2

In addition to the series of drawings of installations and videos (find them here), I’m also producing another series that might find their way into my final PhD submission. At the moment I’m not sure. But I wanted to post them. Each is 240mm x 240mm.

After Marcel Duchamp’s Tu’m
After Francis Alÿs’ Fabiola
After Juan Cruz’ Translating Don Quixote
After Etienne Bossut’s Les Gamelles
After Bruno di Rosa’s Les Carnets Bleu
After Robert Rauschenberg's Factum I and II
After Robert Rauschenberg’s Factum I and II
After Elaine Sturtevant's Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel
After Elaine Sturtevant’s Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel
After Louise Lawler: Pollock and Tureen, Arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Connecticut
After Louise Lawler: Pollock and Tureen, Arranged by Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine, Connecticut

365 Drawings

Throughout 2013 I made drawing for every day. Each day a new image appeared on a blog. You can find it here.

All of the images are of parts of galleries and museums that don’t contain any art. Lots of floors, lighting, sockets. That sort of thing. Posted below are a few of the images, but the blog (link above) is the best place to look through them.

Early on in the process I was asked to sell one if the drawings. This presented me with a problem as I wanted to exhibit all of them as a single work. I decided to sell the drawing and then ask the buyer to send me a picture of the drawing when it had been installed in its new home. I redrew that in the same way, meaning that there wouldn’t – in theory – be any gaps when I came to show the work.

At the time of writing about a month’s worth of the primary drawings have been sold and redrawn, and quite a few of the redraws have been sold too. Any unsold works are available for purchase for £50. Have a look in the comments sections of the drawing you’re interested in to see if it’s already sold.

25th January
Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
29th January
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
20th February
Museum of Catalan Art, Barcelona
28th February
King’s Place, London
26th March
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
29th March
Jewish Museum, Berlin
1st April
Moderna Museet, Malmö
7th April
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
19th May
Unknown Gallery
20th May
Berlinische Gallery, Berlin
3rd June
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
19th June
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
19th July
Zürich Kunsthalle
30th July
Zürich Kunsthalle
2nd August
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
24th August
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
4th September
The National Gallery, London
17th September
Bergen Kunsthall
20th October
Fundació Catalunya, Barcelona
31st October
Bergen Kunsthall
11th November
Western Bank Library, Sheffield
24th November
The National Gallery, London
21st December
Bloc Projects, Sheffield
26th December
Zürich Kunsthalle


The drawings that make up After are all the same size (270mm x 270mm, a little smaller than an LP), and all made in the same way. Photographs of works of art, taken by me, provide the source material for the drawings. None are made from life. A grid on both source and product is used to aid the drawing process. At the time of writing After consists of 27 drawings, five of which have been sold and therefore unavailable for exhibition. The modular format allows for a subset of drawings to be extracted from the corpus and for that to remain a legitimate iteration of After.

The drawings shown here are not intended as scholarly readings of the works on which they are based but rather as partial (that is, biased and incomplete), re-presentations of them, in order that a new work might be generated.

After Material Conjectures After After Jauma Plensa After Karla Black After Joseph Beuys After After Stephen Prina After After David Shrigley After Joseph Beuys After Thomas Hirschhorn After Emilio Vedova After Dale Holmes After After joseph Beuys After After After Anselm Kiefer After Adrián Villar Rojas After After Eastside Prjects After Robert Good After Jean Dubbufet After László Moholy-Nagy After Silvia Champion After James Turrell