Thank you for joining the movement to use drawing as a vehicle for connection, and helping people see one another, two strangers at a time.
Questions? Contact email@example.com
Special thanks to the Muriel Pollia Foundation and fiscal sponsor Intersection for the Arts
Anyone can host DrawTogether Strangers. You just need to be comfortable interacting with all sorts of people, and be able to offer clear, enthusiastic support. (Note: If you’d prefer, you can also host DrawTogether Strangers with a friend or colleague — more fun, less work for each of you.)
You will definitely need strangers — between 2 and 2 billion, specifically. If none are available, non-strangers will work in a pinch.
Ideally a public space with a lot of foot traffic and different kinds of people, libraries, parks, public transportation hubs, museums, city centers, schools, fairs, community events, etc.. Safety first! Be sure you are in a well-lit, highly visible place that you are familiar with.
Setting up: Create a comfortable, casual table. The simpler the better. Make sure your sign is visible.Put a stack of paper in front of each set with a pen on top, so they are waiting when people sit down. If it’s windy, you’ll want to use a paperweight of some sort.
How to get strangers to participate: Getting people to sit down and draw can be challenging at first.But you’ll get the hang of it, and soon you’ll have a line of people waiting to participate — and a small crowd eager to watch. Everyone engages with strangers in their own way, but you (and your co-host if you have one) will have to be outgoing. Flagging people down, kindly hollering at people, trying to catch their eyes, walking up to people and asking the to participate - all of these work. Waiting for people to come over does not. Remember: You are offering people an awesome experience they will love. If you’re excited about the opportunity and extend it like it’s a gift, people will respond in kind. Once you have two strangers sitting across from each other, use the script below. You can tailor it, of course, but it’s important to hit a few main points. The most important points to communicate are in bold.
Hi, I’m (your name here.)
What’s your name? Nice to meet you X.
What’s your name? Nice to meet you Y.
X meet Y, Y meet X
X and Y, you are going to draw each other. Don’t worry! I promise it will NOT be a good drawing, in fact it’s going to be terrible, so you don’t even have to worry about that.
There are two rules:
1) Use one continuous line. Do not lift your pen up off the paper. If you are drawing over here and you need to get over here, just draw right across to there, don’t lift up your pen.
2) Never look down at the paper you are drawing on. You can only look at your partner, never at the paper you’re drawing on. If you do look down, your partner will see you doing it! No cheating.
Okay, ready? I’m going to set a stopwatch and you are going to do this for 60 seconds. Get your pens ready. Look at your partner and decide where you are going to start on their face. That point is where the tip of your pen is on your page. Start there and go slow. Okay?Let’s take a deep breath together. Inhale... Exhale... And begin.
Now GO SLOW. You’ll feel tempted to go fast, but this is about really slowing down and looking and drawing what you SEE, not what you think you see. Slow down. Pay attention.
Imagine your pen connected to your eyes. And as you move your eyes around the lines and shapes on your partner’s face, your pen moves right around with your eyes. Pay extra attention to all the little lines and hairs and dots, there is so much going on around the eyes. All the eyelashes and shapes of the eyes, so much to see.
Slow down. The slower you go, the closer you look. The closer you look, the more you’ll notice. The more you notice, the more you’re paying attention.
Find something you didn’t notice at first. When you first sat down, you got an immediate sense of your partner’s face. Now see if you can find one thing you didn’t notice. Maybe two things. Include those in your drawing.
If you find yourself getting lost on the paper, that’s totally fine. Just pick a place on your partner’s face and keep drawing from there. Remember this is not about doing a good drawing. It’s about going slow and paying attention. Okay five more seconds.
See if you notice one more thing that you didn’t see before.
3…2…1… And stop. Put your pens down. Now look down at your drawings.
So great right!??! Picasso is so jealous! Okay, now show your partner your masterpiece.
They are so wonderful right? SO great.
Here’s why they are wonderful: Not only are these unexpected portraits fun and magical and silly. These drawings are evidence of you slowing down and paying close, unbroken attention to each other for 60 seconds. When do we ever do that? NEVER. Especially not with strangers. And you let a stranger look at you. Good job.
(Check in with participants.) How was that?(Instructions on writing names)
Please write “X by Y” on yours. And “Y by X” on yours.
You are welcome to keep your drawing. OR you can leave them with me and they might end up in an exhibition.
(If they choose to keep them, ask to take a photo of the two of them holding the drawing the other person did of them. If they choose to give leave them, offer to take a photo of them and suggest they post it with the hashtag #DrawTogetherStrangers)
If you share anything about this, please just tag #DrawTogetherStrangers so we can keep track of things.
With people’s permission, post any photos of people or their drawings on Instagram. Be sure to tag them #DrawTogetherStrangers. Include the location in the comment.
Please put drawings into a manila envelope and send it to:
1459 18th Street, #333
San Francisco, CA 94107
Be sure to include the date and location and your personal contact info along with the drawings.
Drawings may be included in an online and IRL exhibit.
In all the cities I’ve hosted a DrawTogether Strangers, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. And of course, there have been challenges. Here are some lessons I learned that might help you, too.
Sadly, people can be rude.
It won’t happen often, but someone having a bad day might take it out on you. My best advice is to smile and offer to do the drawing exercise with them yourself. It will disarm them. If it doesn’t, just thank them so much for their opinion and brush it off. Have an artist's confidence. Remember: if everyone loves it, then it can’t be that interesting.
How to break up couples
It's often easier to get two people to engage than just one. Maybe they think it’s something they are going to do together. If a couple approaches, maybe say something like, “Okay who is going to go first?” And then while they are deciding, start looking for a stranger to join them.
When writing is a challenge
One person who LOVED the drawing experience ended up being unable to write his partner's name on his drawing. After noticing him struggle, I quickly offered to write it for him and he was delighted and relieved. Do not be afraid to offer help at any moment.
Be sure to offer to create space if someone with a wheelchair engages, and offer a standing drawing experience if someone’s size makes sitting challenging, for example.
Play it safe. If you are experiencing any kind of harassment, ask for help, and call 9-1-1 if your safety is threatened. Legal disclaimer: DrawTogether and the DrawTogether Strangers project is not responsible for anything damage or injury that occurs during a DrawTogether Strangers event. This is a decentralized public art project, and hosts and participants participate at their own risk. Where to go to learn more. Send people to #DrawTogetherStrangers on instagram to see drawings and participants around the world.
If someone wants to download a toolkit and host an experience themselves, send them to WendyMacNaughton.com/DrawTogether-Strangers