For illustrator Craig Frazier, Drawords started as a welcome “relief from a day job where I’m given copy and am supposed to draw to it. Every stroke has to communicate something.”
“This is the reverse,” he says. Instead, as a way to keep his head and his drawing skills sharp, Frazier gave himself the assignment of producing a whimsical sketch a week, which he decided to email to contacts with an invitation to give it their own captions. “It was a way to connect with clients and give them a peek at the way I work and the way I see,” he explains.
The drawings were outside of Frazier’s commercial illustrations, experimental and surreal. He says that he discovered if he put enough “silly elements” in, then people let their imaginations take over from there. “They have come back with things that I would never have seen in the drawing. There is a collaboration going on that is very innocent and satisfying.”
In the 15 weeks since Frazier started his Drawords exchange, several hundred people have asked to be put on his Drawords email list. Now he gets anywhere from 200 to 400 captions a week. “I read them as they come in,” he says. “I do a final review on Friday and make a selection. Then I post the drawings with the captions each Monday, along with a new drawing.”
Frazier says that the captions he tends to like best are “the ones that pick up all the inferences and tell a story that is not really there, tell something that is going on outside of the drawing — which means there is a bigger world than the drawing. They don’t over-tell a joke. They take the clues and let viewers fill in the blanks.”
At some point, Frazier says he plans to pull the visual pun drawings together into a print-on-demand book, giving all those who had their caption chosen a free copy. Meanwhile, he says, “I don’t have any client for this. It’s like releasing a bootlegged album. It’s not highly finished; it’s an experiment. I am of the belief that you have to feed your career. You have to do things to keep yourself interested, have to keep your audience interested. If they learn something about my commercial work, that’s great.”
We liked Frazier’s Drawords so much that we asked him if we could share them with @Issue readers. We are pleased that he said yes.