A sketch that is part of the 2015 art installation
A sketch that is part of the 2015 art installation
Art installation in the Denver architecture studio made out napkins sketched during 2015's event
The 2016 event at Euclid Hall in Denver's LODO district

Napkin Sketch Bar Crawl: Sketching, Bonding, and Fun!

Blogger: Catherine Brown, Architectural Project Coordinator | Denver, Colorado, USA
August 31, 2016

What do you get when you invite a group of architects and their clients to a few bars and challenge them to a napkin-sketching competition? Abstract sketches, bonding, and a great art piece for the office!

Hosted by the summer interns from Denver’s architecture studio, the Progressive Sketching event, aka “Napkin Sketch Bar Crawl” was introduced to the staff last summer by a fellow intern. This year’s participants, who included members of our staff and some of our clients, visited three bars in Denver for a much-needed creative happy hour. We offered a different sketching challenge at each bar, and we intentionally made the challenges difficult in order to take the pressure off of the less-confident sketchers in the group.

Among the rules was BYOP: Bring Your Own Pen.

First stop: Henry’s Tavern on 16th Street Mall. Challenge: Sketch your favorite part of the bar with your NON-dominant hand

This is a new sports bar in Denver with large garage doors that open up the space to the outside. Using our non-dominant hand was definitely a challenge for most of us, and it ended up making everyone very focused and quiet. Sketches ranged from simple elements of a table or a glass, to more elaborate details of the garage doors, to perspectives of the space. It was impressive to see the results!

Second stop: Corner Office in the Performing Arts District. Challenge: Sketch a blind contour of a person (Draw a person with one continuous line without looking at the napkin)

We gathered in the front corner of the bar among the multicolored glass and lime green chairs and got to work. We certainly had some very curious looks as we awkwardly stared at each other and at other people across the bar. Since we had to draw one continuous line, it made it difficult to get detailed or exact, but it did encourage flexibility and interpretation.  We created all sorts of crazy-looking people—and yes, some of the sketches actually looked like people!  Most of us found that drawing a person’s profile was a lot more successful than drawing someone straight on, although all of our sketches lacked hair and large noses for some reason.

Final stop: Euclid Hall in LODO. Challenge: Sketch your favorite place in Denver without using your hands

This was the most uncomfortable challenge for me, but it definitely was the most entertaining and difficult for the group. People got creative and sketched with their wrists, elbows, and most commonly, their mouths. From what we could decipher, most people drew the mountains or some version of the outdoors. 

After the event, all of the napkins were brought back to the office to be enjoyed and voted on as a staff, and there was a winner for each category (They earned high-fives and bragging rights). The napkins are currently being repurposed into a new art piece that will be displayed in our studio.

This was a great opportunity to spend some fun bonding time with our coworkers, as well as a chance to  get to know some of our new clients in a unique and creative atmosphere. Will there be a third annual Progressive Sketching event? Definitely!

 

Reader Comments (1)

On a recent visit to the Denver office, I saw the wall of napkin sketches. I was impressed and a bit jealous. I try to sketch and doodle everyday as a way of thinking visually and enhancing my communication skills. Some teammates and I started a 30-day sketch challenge. The first couple weeks went well, but then things go busy and it fell by the wayside. Thanks for the jolt of inspiration and motivation.

PS - Check out the game Drawful. It is super fun to play with colleages, friends or family. And highly addictive. 

- mj

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