In May, I entered my first item on a challenge blog. It got me curious about the idea. Challenge blogs seem to have become a subculture all their own. Nearly all of them–at least the dark ones–are on Blogspot. The designs are generally fun, old-skool, almost Geocities-like. The only thing they lack are animated backgrounds. They are often sponsored by companies that make stamps or digital designs. Usually, there is a design team associated with the blog. The design team posts inspirational art, often made with materials from a sponsor. They may also choose winners. Sometimes there are even prizes!
One universal rule: no back-linking. This means no linking some old thing you made a couple years ago for the challenge. It isn’t fun if you aren’t creating something new.
In participating, you get to touch base with like-minded artists, often getting to see their process along with their work. Most of the entries are papercraft, very often with colored stamping, nonetheless; there is a lot of variety included.
There are a lot of them, and I think they’re a blast. Below is a list of dark challenge blogs I’ve found. They are a great way to kick your creativity in the pants when you’re having a slump. If you know of another dark challenge blog, please mention it in the comments.
DARK ART ONLY:
Haunted Design House is a no-cute zone. They insist your entry be “creepy, dark, or macabre.” They have monthly themed challenges, and attract a lot of non-paper, mixed-media work. Their rules don’t mention the process, but I’m assuming a design team chooses winners. HDH welcomes all media, including digital.
Forever Dark is another creepy-only blog. They are brand-spankin’ new, posting their first challenge this month. Winners are chosen by a design team. All media accepted.
Dream in Darkness is only a few months old. I am in love with their background image. They are usually anything goes, just keep it dark. Winners are chosen randomly.
Smudgy Antics is associated with Smeared Ink stamps, which, alas, is no more. But the challenges continue. You can enter on the blog, and/or join their facebook group. Entries must include a rubber or digital stamp image. Winners are chosen randomly.
Quoth the Raven gets even more specific–they are a Poe-themed challenge blog. “Bring ye not thy fluffy, smushy if it be not POE !!!” I can’t tell how they choose their winners, but they accept all media.
DARK AND MAINSTREAM:
Create and Inspire doesn’t look particularly dark, despite their url of a-step-in-the-darkness.blogspot.com. For each challenge, both mainstream and dark art is accepted, and there is a winner chosen by the design team for each.
Left of Center accepts both dark and mainstream, but if you submit a mainstream project, you must follow the theme. Dark projects can choose to follow or not. All media are accepted, and winners are chosen by a design team.
It’s tempting to pitch a creepy hat in the ring for all the challenges. In many cases, you can enter an item in several challenges, so that helps. I like them because there’s no deadline pressure. If I don’t make the challenge, well, I didn’t commit to it anyway. I had a lot of fun making that first cuff, and hope to do more.