the closure of the 52-week illustration challenge

Wednesday, 31 January 2018



Today, the 52-Week Illustration Challenge has been archived. It's odd 'archiving' something that brought such happiness, produced the most beautiful community, inspired endless creativity and opportunity, and, quite frankly, changed lives, including my own.

Many people have asked why the Challenge closed, and my stock standard (and true) response, is that we never expected it to last a year, let alone four. Every single year, we presumed we'd close, but people stepped in, especially my dear friend and Challenge partner, Nicky Johnston, to keep it running. We 100% did this for our members, not ourselves. Our members were the reason it ran for so long.

Unless you've managed a Facebook group of 6000+ creative people, you will never, ever know the strain, the stress and the overwhelm it takes, and indeed, I lasted just one year as Director, it was so full-on (predominantly wonderful, sometimes horrid). Nicky took over as Director for almost three years, and I can't even find the words to thank her, and all of our beautiful admin over the years, for their time, energy, love and dedication, in keeping the Challenge alive and growing it into something quite phenomenal.

For the sake of transparency, and the fact that (shockingly) all these 'questions' are being bandied about by people, and to address the horrendous snark we've received over the last month or two regarding the closure (another reason the Challenge became unsustainable--the shisters), I will admit there were other reasons the Challenge closed, too. I never in a billion years expected this group to become as huge as it did, but my name is attached to it, and I feel compelled to be clear on the reasons.

The first is because careers blossomed and burgeoned and practically exploded thanks to the Challenge, especially for the people running it, and we simply found it too difficult to invest the time needed into such a large group. Four years is a long time--we needed to refocus elsewhere, and even though I was no longer active as admin, my head, heart and soul were still very much 'distracted' by the group, and in the behind-the-scenes management. It became exhausting.

The next reason... the Challenge was so successful because of the dedication and the calibre of the people who took part in running it, and finding people like this is not easy. Life is busy, committing is hard, and we knew it was too much work to find new, committed people and then hand over something that is literally like our own child.

I think it may be easy to forget that the Challenge was run voluntarily and that moderation was constant. It was an enormous effort, and no one could spare the considerable time and energy to pass it on to anyone else, and also worry how it would be treated after transferral. When people take the time and love to build something beautiful, it becomes beloved, and 'just handing it over' was not an option in the end.

Lastly, the Challenge was, and still is, one of the most beloved and memorable stops on my career as an author/illustrator. It was a place of deep friendship, connection, love, passion, creativity, enlightenment, joy, happiness, laughter, support and beauty.

But it was also (confounds me that I even need to write these words) a place of betrayal, snark, underhandedness, back-stabbing, insecurity, cruelty, flagrant using and attempts to burden us with guilt (the latter being particularly prevalent). These latter elements absolutely contributed to our closure. The good did far outweigh the bad, and my goodness, 95% of people were so utterly gracious and left endless messages of support, but the snark and self-serving and ingratitude absolutely did accelerate our decision. To say it was hurtful and confounding is an understatement.

Hence, it was really important to Nicky and I for the Challenge to go out on a positive note, on a high.

We did this today.

In our behind-the-scenes admin discussions, we have had long, emotional conversations over the four years, and most especially the last four weeks. In describing how I feel about letting the Challenge go, I am borrowing a word from Nicky, who simply said 'grateful'.

I think this word sums up the Challenge perfectly for me, and the enormous part it--and its people--holds in my heart. Grateful.

Thank you to everyone who brought their love, dedication, honesty and open hearts on this journey. This is not goodbye. It's only the beginning.

Love and gratitude,

Tx

Footnote: A big thank you for these lovely comments and for all the messages we're received. Thank you for being so gracious and supportive. x x x


5 comments:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Dear Taz, I think you have made the absolute right decision. You and Nicky and your helpers made a huge wonderful commitment towards the live of art and also the love of people too, because it has helped people become more confident in their work, and also their blossoming careers.

I'm sorry to hear the baser side of human nature got the better of some people. How could they justify being that way? I'm astonished.

Anyway, you're going out on a high with this wonderful amazing site, and I guarantee you can hold your heads high knowing that so many of us tips out lids to you! You rock, T. And Nicky et al.
Much love
Sheryl

DimbutNice said...

Grateful. What I feel to the nth degree for you both, as well.

Here's to even better views from the heights to which you are soaring my friend.

Dim x

Katherine Appleby said...

Yep! Grateful. Beyond words. Love.

Katharine Harper said...

Yes, I'm grateful too
For all the reasons already stated, but clearly for filtering the experience of being a challenge member so I felt I was in such an extraordinary safe and happy bubble
Thank you to all the admins 'parents' xxx

jen storer said...

End of an era. What an extraordinary journey you've all been on. I'm in awe of you all. Onwards now! Much love xox

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