Illustration Friday (2003-2020)

History of the greatest client-free playground for illustrators ever to get ruined by spammers

illustration friday logo

Illustration Friday logo, second edition 2012

Illustration Friday was a weekly online challenge that ran from 2003 to 2020. Participants illustrated the one-word topics globally announced on Friday mornings ET, post on their blogs or websites, then shared links to various discussion boards for networking and encouragement. Some used it to build their portfolios, but most that I interacted with seemed to be students, teachers, hobbyists, or retirees.

The concept of Illustration Friday was founded by Penelope Dullaghan in 2003 a Photo Friday for illustrators who aren't "handy dandy with a camera." She launched the official website in November 2004. After growing the group of participants from "many to many more" in a decade and wanting to focus on her illustration career, Dullaghan handed the reins to Illustration Age in March 2013.

The official site got hijacked by spammers in May 2020, effectively killing it and the unofficial discussion board on Deviant Art.

screenshot of illustration friday website

Illustration Friday website, 2004-2012

screenshot of illustration friday website

Illustration Friday website, 2012-2020

My iFriday

I participated from November 2006 to July 2007, usually drawing at 1369 Coffee House in Cambridge, MA 02139. iFriday (my personal name for Illustration Friday) was a weekend hobby, done between fatherhood responsibilities, making comics, job hunting, and later a full time creative position at LTSave.

With social media still in its infancy, most of our work was "powered by Blogger." I was getting about 10-20 comments a week by the summer of 2007, but began to lose my sense of purpose. Art directors weren't looking for talent there, and the hobbyist vibe began to make me feel like an outsider. My responses to the wholesome topics got darker, leading me to contribute a few X-rated drawings to the naughtier Illustration Friday Night just to keep interested.

I grew tired of hitting weekly deadlines with nothing to show for it. Unlike annual creative challenges (24 Hour Comics, 48 Hour Film Project, Inktober), this one didn't have a hard stop. Turns out nine months was enough for me.

Reposted Glory

I stumbled on these old drawings last week, after almost two decades. Reading the comments reminded me of all the enthusiasm. That's what drove me to repost a selected group (they weren't all winners) of drawings with the original comments, and write an intro to a topic very few people on Earth will remember or care about. But to those who do, thanks.


iFriday Dave