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Index-Card-A-Day (ICAD) 2023
Thoughts on ICAD 2023, a classic summer art challenge on index card
The Index-Card-a-Day (ICAD) challenge from Tammy at Daisy Yellow starts June 1. I’ve been a long-time supporter of ICAD and have participated many times. Many of my favorite series have been on index card, including a ballpoint series (which looks sophomoric to me now but at the time was pivotal), a series that included chairs and windows in pen and ink (the summer just before I started drawing portraits), a sunglasses portraits series in Copic marker, and a second year of portraits with Copic (which I think may be my favorite series ever). You can watch a short flip through that shows some of these.
I encourage everyone looking for a daily challenge or looking to nurture a creative habit to do ICAD.
I don’t know yet what this year holds for me and index cards. I’ve been on a string of incomplete challenges already in 2023, and I think that trend may continue. Since starting Illustrate Your Week (and the year of keeping the 50 Before 50 journal that helped define the weekly format I now use), I am really protective of my art time “for” the illustrated journal. I carefully safeguard this as my “main” art project and creative habit. Because of my schedule, this has made ICAD more complicated for me.
I know I’ll draw each night, but I don’t know that I can manage two full portraits in the way I would like. I don’t want to “steal” the drawing time from the illustrated journal. I did that for a few years, but Illustrate Your Week is something I am really trying to grow, so I am protective of it as a daily project. My writing and work here on the substack also takes a considerable amount of time. I am also spending a lot of time ramping up some new digital skills. There is always something, right? Sadly, we have to pick and choose, and sometimes the choices are hard.
A Simple Plan
I’ve been thinking about my own steps for 2023. I am loyal to projects, to friends, and to challenges I believe in. Even though I know I can’t take on a big series, ideas keep coming to mind. Something about the index card format has worked so well for me in the past, and I know that series-based work is always where my strongest work emerges. I am torn about ICAD 2023.
I have had at least one portrait series idea spring up before me in the last week as I’ve made comments and written captions at Instagram. I also have one “simple” idea, and it’s the one I am most considering (though my heart really wants to do the portraits). I often push aside simple ideas because I have a really strong rubric for thinking through whether I think a series will be complex “enough” to have lasting power for me. Whatever I choose also has to have personal meaning or grounding. I have to love it.
What I am thinking about is simple but does have echoes of a prior (non-index-card) project that I loved. Repeat projects don’t always work, I know. But I think this might be a way for me to play along this year with something loose and flexible. I have trouble sharing super simple projects though, and when I don’t share, I lose the accountability factor. If the project doesn’t have strong enough roots, that is often when it falls off. (I saw that happen this year with my 100-day project. I’ve even considered picking that back up on index card.)
Because I have had company for the last month on top of all of the things going on in my house, I am behind in most ways. I opened my old “retrospective” file on the podcast site last night, and I got sucked into the whole idea afresh. I always recommend scrolling your feed or rifling through older work, in this case, older stacks of index cards.
I wish I could put June 1 off for another week so that I could think it through this week and really figure things out. But, of course, weeks roll on.
I hope you consider the Index-Card-a-Day Challenge, sign up for Tammy’s newsletter to get ongoing info, look for the prompts on her Instagram, and have fun making daily art on index cards this summer.
My favorite cards are thick white ones. I also used manilla tabbed ones for many, many years. They are also very thick. An index card is never a perfect substrate. That is part of the beauty of using index cards. Try something new. Surprise yourself. Play with the prompts or with an idea you have or something you’ve wanted to explore. Let yourself enjoy the process and the comfortable feeling of making daily art and creating a sustaining creative habit.
Learn more about ICAD on the Daisy Yellow site.
Find resources, podcast episodes, video flips, and tips for tracking a series like ICAD with Notion on the Creativity Matters Podcast site. This retrospective holds a quick look at a few years of ICAD. You might also enjoy:
Episode 314 (from 2018)
I can’t wait to see what you do!
If you are participating in ICAD this year, leave your Instagram handle below and share what plan you have (if any).