You’re welcome, from the Isle of Man Drawing Club.
I wasn’t the first comeover to Google “Isle of Man life drawing” and find disappointing results, but I was the first one to do something about it.
As a professional designer and illustrator and a lifelong New Yorker, I made the mistake of thinking that Drink & Draws were a worldwide phenomenon. Sure, I just moved to a charming little rock in the middle of the Irish Sea that 95% of my friends and family had never heard of, but art is universal! Creativity wasn’t born yesterday! Life drawing is everywhere!
As it turns out, the Isle of Man is about 10 years behind “everywhere.” I didn’t have 10 years to wait for my boozy drawing group to come to me, so armed only with an idea, a Facebook page, and a 6-minute slot to promote myself at Isle Expo 2017, I created the Isle of Man Drawing Club, a monthly event series with only two goals: drinking and drawing.
The launch event was simple. Whoever showed up to the designated pub at the scheduled time would spend 2 hours having drink and drawing the person sitting across from them. Everyone I talked to, online and off, was certain the club would be a hit, but I was still scared sh!tless. Who was I to be forming a club!? I put Isle of Man in the name and I’d only lived here for 16 months!!
But alas, it was a hit. Just over 20 people showed up to that first meeting, mostly complete strangers to me. I had exclusively promoted the event through social media and let word of mouth do the rest, and attracted a diverse range of people: professional illustrators, part-time hobbyists, grandparents that hadn’t picked up a pencil in decades, college students with cool haircuts. We all just laughed and drew each other and looked at everyone’s favorite drawings, and I floated home on a cloud made of community and vodka lemonades.
The portrait idea was a great way to start because it required zero props, money, or models. But I still wanted my life drawing class. So I reached out to the fitness instructor who taught my burlesque dance class. Was there any chance she’d be willing to strip down for our motley crew of artists? And could she bring her feathers? She was in.
So began the Isle of Man’s only boozy life drawing event. We moved up (literally) from the pub’s ground level to their private event space, I started charging admission to cover the model and venue fee, and for the last 5 months, we’ve been meeting on a Thursday every 4 weeks to draw a different nude model. Surprisingly, finding naked people on an island where everybody knows everybody wasn’t too hard; most of our muses have enthusiastically volunteered and said after the event that it was an incredible experience.
As our September meeting drew (no pun intended) upwards of 40 club members, I’ve had to go back to the drawing board (I’m so sorry) and find a new venue to accommodate our growing group. To my great excitement, on Thursday, 12 October, we’ll hold our first event at the much bigger Noa Bakehouse and draw our first male model. The Isle of Man was ready for a Drink & Draw after all.
While the ultimate dream is a venue of my own to host weekly events (and function as a creative co-working space, and a yoga studio, and a café, and… investors, get at me), our monthly format is working well for the time being. The interest is there, the models are ready, the alcohol is flowing. Anything is possible! Even on this charming little rock in the middle of the Irish sea.
By Kim Graziano | Photography by Jess Ward