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Drawger Forward
posted: October 13, 2010
As many here now know, Drawger is going to get smaller over the course of the coming year.

This decision on my part went into effect last week and Zina Saunders just happened to be the first one on a rather long list of people who will no longer be blogging from Drawger.com.

I very much like Zina personally and I'm pretty darn sure she knows that. At least, I hope she does. If Drawger survives this change, the same sentiment towards Zina applies to everyone who will no longer be blogging from here as the coming year lurches forward.

The "it's not personal" sentiment above. That's lame. I wish there was another option to express how I feel. I can't think of one. Drawger needing to get smaller is entirely my fault. Drawger being too large right now, all my fault.

What's actually happening. When a member's yearly subscription expires, each person who's moving on will have five days in which to have their say. If people feel the need to call me a rat bastard, they'll have the soap box to loudly do so. I think it's right that people be given the opportunity to say whatever they need to say about the changes taking place here. If you're moving on and think I'm a rat bastard, post it.

The me thing. I do not manage Drawger in the hopes of making a name for myself or to gather accolades. I also do not manage Drawger to make money, because it doesn't make any. More obviously, I don't manage Drawger to make friends or influence people. Consequently, I usually stay quiet in the background most of the time. The actions I am taking however do land me front and center in what is certainly a controversy. Pitchforks at the gate, the town on fire, looks bad, perhaps it's the end.

The controversy itself, the town on fire, pitchforks, they don't make me uncomfortable. Being in the spotlight does. I don't like spotlights, never have. Here I am in it and very uncomfortable. Alright then.

Here's where I'm at. Drawger has too many members for it to be enjoyed in the way that I originally designed it to be enjoyed. There are so many people here that remarkable articles, thoughtful insights and downright genius are only on our home page for a day, before they are pushed off by other articles and quickly evaporated from view.

When insightful, topical and thoughtful articles quickly disappear from view, there is clearly less incentive for members to invest the time and energy necessary to create those insightful posts.Why bother if all that hard work and thought is going to be gone from view in a day?

The result of over-population? Less cool stuff to read and look at.

Back to the rat bastard thing. Perhaps saying that about me would be just the thing, or perhaps a bit harsh. I think it would be more fair to say that I have managed Drawger very poorly. That rings true. That would be abundantly fair. For failed management, I take all responsibility. If people want to call me out for being a poor manager, I'll gladly hand you the rocks to throw. I've allowed Drawger to get too big and too big just sucks. All my fault. I'll hand you bigger rocks and let you stand as close as you want on that one.

My original vision for Drawger was that it would be a very small, private social club. For a couple of years, it was exactly that. I woke up every morning energized and excited. Drawger was my home away from home. Somewhere along the line, I let that original vision slip away. The small social club transformed into a over-crowded dance hall. Because I wasn't paying attention. You bet.

The result of over-population? I showed up to read stuff less often. I woke up bummed out every single day.

The changes taking place here at Drawger are, admittedly, all about my personal happiness. It's all about being horribly selfish and dreadfully self-centered. I do not want to wake up every day feeling the way I've been feeling. I want that small social club back, I need the original vision of Drawger returned.

I'm not going to talk about the criteria for how my decisions are made. I have made this site available to my friends with no expectation of reward, except the personal reward I receive when I get to read and see remarkable works and words. With that said, I'll get back to my place in the background. Take aim and fire away as you see fit.
33 comments
Bill Koeb October 13, 2010
Hi Robert, I really respect you for coming forward and making your statement. I think it is an incredibly difficult situation one puts one's self in when trying to create and maintain a private social club in a public arena like the internet. I have enjoyed all of the posts I have read on Drawger. I am not a fan of private social clubs though. Any club that has exclusivity, has to exclude people. This is both what makes the members of the club and the club as a whole feel special, but also what makes those on the outside feel left out. If you truly want a private social club, why not have it on a private server, one where only members can see and share ideas and work? It would not get the public attention that I think is part of what your site's appeal is, but it would solve your problem of it being too big. Anyway, I wish you the best with your newer, smaller group. Regarding the recent posts about Zina Saunders leaving the group. I think the thing that stood out as unfair or wrong, was that it didn't sound as though she was given a reason that she understood for being booted, and for being the only one at the time being booted. Best regards, Bill
Bruce Jensen October 13, 2010
I've enjoyed reading dance hall drawger.
Barry Blitt October 13, 2010
Um, er. The failed management thing, I don't think anyone can begrudge you that, it must have been tough reining the site in as it snowballed and got too big. But hanging Zina out to dry, by herself, without a public explanation until afterward - that did seem kind of harsh.
Andy Ward October 13, 2010
I was invited over here 3 years ago and had never heard of either Drawger or 95% of the illustrators who were contributing at that time. It took me 6 months and a few prompts to get going and after my first post i replied to everyone's comments personally by email as i'd never used a blog before. The inspiration, education, insight etc. is pretty obvious here, it's a unique place. But from a personal perspective i've learned to talk about my work. The projects that matter to me. I've learned to deconstruct what i do as a professional and put it all back together in a relatively articulate way and push it out into a place i feel comfortable in. Whatever incarnation Drawger takes or wherever the spirit of what i have been a part of drifts to, I hope in some way I can be a part of it again and continue with what i've begun. To Michael Sloan thanks for the initial invite and every one who approved. Zimm for the set up and all who've read my posts. I don't know when i'll be up for renewal but i'm guessing my fate as a relative newbie here. Onwards & upwards...
Flaherty October 13, 2010
Hi Zimm. Thanks for the update! I was thinking that within the basic design of Drawger, you might consider giving a blogger the option to publish their article and at the same time opt to not put it on the front page. This would allow it on their blog as an article but they would not clutter the front page if they thought it not 100 million times kick ass. Just a thought.
Harry Campbell October 13, 2010
Your baby, do as you see fit. Appreciate you posting the explanation.
Kyle T Webster October 13, 2010
Hi, Zimm, you created the site and then gave members the option to invite people. They did. The site got bigger than you wanted it to, but it is the community itself that made this happen willfully. People kept getting invited! Why should they, then, be punished for being asked to be here? And how are they meant to feel about the randomness of it all? - It feels a bit like 'eeny meeny miney mo' to some of us. To turn around now and "un-invite" half or more of the members is, I believe, the wrong way to move forward. Bill's suggestion above makes more sense: select the Drawgers you want, invite them privately and make a smaller, separate site (public or private - doesn't matter). Keep the branding, keep the URL and the original concept and all of that - make it the perfect place you want it to be. But please leave THIS thriving community (whatever it needs to be called moving forward) just as it is without removing more people, who, let's be honest, are here because they were ASKED to be here by the majority of the members themselves. If you want members to pay more money to make this exercise worthwhile, I don't think you would get any complaints, at least not from me. Thanks for creating Drawger. Though you may not like what it is has become, there are many who love it just as it is. There is more than one way to skin a cat - you need not dismantle this site to have the Drawger you truly want. Please consider other options. PS - I love Dave Flaherty's suggestion above. PPS - I know you can do whatever you want and we can't stop you. We can't learn the code fast enough.
David Hildreth October 13, 2010
From what I have read and seen on this site, it seems "thoughtful" and "insightful" are common words used by many people on this site to describe Zina's posts. Not to mention she has a distinct style that produces great artwork. Just look at the public outcry that came from her being booted. It just seems like you made an odd choice in booting her in the spirit of quality over quantity.
Zimm October 13, 2010
One thing I forgot to mention is that I always thought that other people would start small community sites, similar to Drawger. For one reason or another, that's never really happened, at least that I'm aware of. I'd be happy to share the technology with anyone interested in creating something similar to what Drawger does. All you have to do is ask.
Elwood H. Smith October 13, 2010
Bill Koeb wrote: "If you truly want a private social club, why not have it on a private server, one where only members can see and share ideas and work? It would not get the public attention that I think is part of what your site's appeal is, but it would solve your problem of it being too big." Bill, Drawger, as I see it (or perhaps as I use it), has not been about this being private. I'm one of those who liked it best back when the membership was small. We had 17 members when I joined. I have no idea where the cap should be, but I agree with Zimm that in recent years it has become impossible to catch all the good articles if you didn't log on several times daily. But, back to the idea of a private blog. Over the years since I posted my article on my favorite art tool, the Pelikan 120 fountain pen, and my search for a waterproof ink to replace the great original FW formula, I have gotten many, many responses from pen lovers. Not just illustrators responding, but questions and tips about pens and ink from all kinds of people. I think it's important that Drawger reaches out to a larger world. But, like Zimm, I prefer a smaller, more intimate group with whom to interact. I agree with Zimm that he fucked up by not putting up his "Drawger Forward" statement earlier--before he knocked Zina off the block. And he should have somehow capped off the membership when he first felt things had gotten out of hand here. Of course you know the old saw about hindsight. But he's now come forth to apologize for the things he managed poorly and make clear his goals for returning to a smaller Drawger. I have no idea if I'm one of the ones who'll remain or if I'll be searching for a new home. I guess, if there are enough artists here who get bounced, one or a group of them will start up a new blog, similar to Zimm's invention, to house a select group. I hope they'll keep in mind the lesson Zimm has learned--decide first how big you want your home to be. Do you, like Zimm has stated, want a cozy cabin, or do you want a bustling castle? If I get to hang here, it'll be interesting to see if it feels like home again. Can Zimm regain the small cabin he once had? If I am handed my walking papers, it'll be interesting to see where I end up and with whom I hang. Drawger has been a wonderful forum for me, but it is not my life. It is a part of my life. I have lots of parts to my life and, like the lowly earthworm, I have a regenerative system: a part gets nipped off and it pains me, but soon a new part appears to replace the old one. There is a somewhat Russian Roulette feeling here, which is too bad. We all wait for the that fateful date, five days before our next renewal is due, to see if we are IN or OUT. I think it would be better if Zimm would decide over the next week or so, who he wants to stay and who he doesn't and then let them know. Privately. That way those who are to be expelled, will have more than a scant five days to pull off favorite articles and imagery to ready themselves for a new home. I'd hate to lose the articles I've posted here and I'd like more than five days to pack up my belongings. Some articles I've posted are frivolous, but most are heartfelt stories of my life. They might be simply shared information, like my pen article, or they might be articles about loss of loved ones or delights in my life or about good beer. Some were simply me showing off my creations, like a New York Times illustration, a new animation or something from my passion for music. Obviously, however Zimm chooses to handle his baby is up to him. I wish him well. No matter who remains here on Drawger, I'll pop in regularly to visit my old friends whether or not I still have a bunk in the cabin. -Elwood
db October 13, 2010
It is your creation, do with it want you want. You want it small, keep it small. I went back and looked at all the earliest posts and I honestly find the larger Drawger much more interesting than the smaller Drawger. I am sure that the artists also liked reading comments from 20 to 50 people as opposed to 5 or 10. If your desire is for art directors to visit your site, I'm afraid they won't visit with less artists on board. If you simply want a place for you and your buds, Good for you.
Harry Campbell October 13, 2010
To all the pleas for Drawger to stay as it is-it's Zimms profitless endeavor, he can do as he sees fit. If he has a hard time even looking at this thing he created, and he has to maintain it as well, then that's like dragging your ass to a job you hate day after day, and you own the company. Shaving the back of my neck as we speak.....
Erik T Johnson October 13, 2010
As an outside observer, I can't help but imagine several smaller Drawger sites living together in the Drawgerverse (sorry, I read comic books). Drawger I, Drawger II, Drawger III - Maybe just a little crossover window between each (most viewed story, etc.) I'm sure this is entirely unappealing from a managerial standpoint, but I do hope someone takes you up on the technology offer. There are no competing sites because you've created something unique for insiders and the rest of us.
Kyle T Webster October 13, 2010
Yes, Harry- I agree with you. It is Zimm's profitless endeavor and he can do as he sees fit- I don't think anybody is arguing about that. Some of us are merely offering alternatives to the current plan; one that has just barely gotten underway. Where is the harm in this? If we think we have something to lose by no longer having the privilege of blogging here, it is not unusual to protest a bit, or brainstorm out loud about different ways for Zimm to accomplish his end goal. I think that is all that is going on here. I see your point about having to maintain it, though. If he doesn't like it and still has to keep it running, then well - yes, that is no fun.
chris mullen October 13, 2010
Sometimes a pat on the back is no different than a kick in the ass.
Elwood H. Smith October 13, 2010
Thanks, Zimm for letting us know about this: "Something I forgot to mention: I am not destroying any content. The content is simply being moved to another location and any links that are out there that refer to content will resolve correctly." At least for me, this in a really important part of this downsizing. I've made many links to my Drawger articles over the years and it's of great comfort to know they'll remain intact whether I'm IN or OUT come June of next year. I'd rather be in, but if my articles are accessible "at no charge and forever" I'm at peace with whatever transpires. Does that mean that I, too, will last forever? At no cost?
Mark Fisher October 13, 2010
Glad I paid up 10 years in advance! Seriously, thanks for the info Zimm.
Ken Eaton October 14, 2010
1) Your Illoz site is invitation only with dozens of invitees and as is Illogator. Why would Drawger not be their own forum to socialize in? Will those cut from Drawger be cut from Illoz and Illogator? 2) Your Dec 3, 2008 post praises Zina. Now you dump her. Did your opinion of her work or herself change in two years? 3) I hope your young students at Ohger emotionally survive an event like this. Will you cut the fat from there as well? 4) I agree with Bill Koeb. If you wanted a private fraternity, you should have kept it private. Kyle Webster is also right in that you have created a virtual home for your invitees and you're being a cruel landlord in kicking them out without reason. 5) If your motives for creating all these sites were selfish as you state, I suppose it's no surprise your current actions are. If you wanted to play virtual god rather than make money on your various sites, please try to be a more logical god if not a benevolent one. Your Drawgerites deserve it. Best regards from a part time illustrator.
Dennis Bolt October 15, 2010
Thank you Robert for making Drawger what it is. I, as a loyal reader/visiter for the last 3ish years, get daily inspiration from it. I am not a new graphic artist, but I am definitely not at the level of all of you, and the depth and breadth of this community is great. This has become a great teaching tool as well as visual marketplace and ego-boosting portfolio site. I say you designed this as a small club, but it is more than that now. As an outsider looking in, I don't mind the quick change of front page items. Honestly if I knew that it changed only substantially every week rather than daily, I would not find it as inspiring. I like that these are pretty "quick-hit" items that can impress me quickly. I can see the new work of a dozen illustrators each day. Eventhough I don't know any of you personally, I see your work outside of Drawger and think to myself "hey there's an Edel on the cover of Time......" By your warm comraderie to each other, I feel somehow part of it by association. Eventhough I am nowhere near your levels, I feel a real sense of accomplishment for each of you, and consider you all "colleagues of mine" Best of luck with the downsizing but please do not ruin the community by making it too insular. -Dennis Bolt www.dennisbolt.com
Daniel Fishel October 15, 2010
Hey Ken Eaton, I'm a member over on Ohger, and I am not "emotionally distraught" or hurt, more so than I am curious and critical of how Zimm is choosing who's in and who's out. Zina, Drew and now Kyle T. Webster?!?! In the end, it's just a blog and we shouldn't get so hung up about it. Drawger as well as Ohger, are simply blogs to show off the cool things we've been making and connect with other people. I wouldn't have met the amazing people I have and formed personal bonds with if it wasn't for Ohger. Will those relationships be lost because a member leaves the blog? I don't think so. Even though I am on Ohger, I still seek out people my own age as well as more seasoned pro's to build my own community of illustrators and artist I admire by looking at the SOI student show, conferences/AI Party, twitter, and various blogs linking to blogs. Am I a little sad to see some of the people I've admired over the last 2 to 3 years leave this forum? Of course, but it doesn't mean I'll stop following their work when they leave either.. I just think the drawgers should have the right to know how it's being determined who's in and who's out atleast. I don't need to know, because I'm not on Drawger. -Daniel
Zina Saunders October 15, 2010
Robert please stop referring to me as your friend. You are not my friend. There are many levels of friendship and you are on not any them toward me, not in your behavior to me. You are not even in the most surface way friendly or even polite. So stop it. Your words are hollow. Friends do not do what you did. Period.
David Goldin October 15, 2010
Zimm, I love you dude, but... ( sound of a hand hitting a moron)... drawger is a monster you've created and it's in it's nature to grow and evolve. Like the Huffington Post where there are different sections Political, Humor, Sports, etc... think of it: drawger-lite drawger-afterhours drawgrllll drawger.jr drawgerilla drawger.stepchild I think there should also be more private rooms and secret clubs with handshakes. Maybe our own skull and bones club. Just thinking...
Heidi Schmidt October 15, 2010
There are about 100 different ways to go about making Drawger a rich and interesting experience rather than than just kicking off the people you deem unworthy. How about moderating entries for interesting content, get rid of the grid of vanity that exists on the front page and invite guest artists to write articles. Bla, bla bla. Just letting the anybody post what ever, when ever, without offering any guidelines as to what is expected and hoping that brilliance will emerge is pretty naive. Zimm's statement: "There are so many people here that remarkable articles, thoughtful insights and downright genius are only on our home page for a day." Really? Show me one remarkable article or brilliant insight that has happened on Drawger in the last 2 years. It is not the numbers that drive away rich content it's the lack of direction and what is expected that is missing. The really interesting dirt happens in the stinky back room of the Drawger forums. That is, if you can wade through the porn, fart jokes, male wee-wee humor and general debauchery that exists there. The forums are the realm of bullies who prefer to share their pearls of wisdom only with their clubhouse cronies instead of broadcasting them on the front page where everyone in the illustration community can join the dialog. Why not cut to the chase and just provide the forums for the insiders to put forth their "thoughtful insights" and crass photoshop mashups for their own amusement. It will be interesting to see how many of the "keepers" post this scintillating content that Zimm hopes for. I bet that I can start a list of names of who will stay and who will go and it will not be based on how much value they have added to the front page. It is only a matter of time before they start to throw each other under the bus. And then there is Zina, who despite being one of two women who decide to actively stick it out at Drawger, gets kicked off the island. The illustration business has historically never been a hot bed of acceptance for women and Drawger is no exception. If you have ever ventured into the forums you will know what I mean. The only thing worse than having ovaries here at Drawger is having a career in Advertising art. Zina's career has been thrilling to watch. She has her developed her own unique style, taken on social and political commentary and struck out with her own ideas and projects when times were dry. Zina's work is always interesting and never stale. I have a hard time understanding what the reasoning could be for removing her from Drawger if the goal is to push more "genus" to the top of the page. There are some really good, thoughtful and talented people at Drawger who could add a lot of value to the illustration community. I hope that they find a voice somewhere and the cream rises to the top.
Harry Campbell October 15, 2010
"male wee-wee humor and general debauchery that exists there" With all due respect.wee wee? are we three? I think we can all say penis or vagina whether it be on this page, some private site, whatever. This is really getting silly. I'll consider this my last comment on all this. Really is revealing some strange animosities towards others in the field, personal feelings about off color humor etc. Personally, I like a bit of mindless bullshit during the day as I'm trying to plow through work.
Ashley G. October 15, 2010
Heidi Schmidt - you're my HERO!!!!
Richard Downs October 15, 2010
Hi Heidi Schmidt, The best artists in the world have been women in my book.My favorite Illustrators in our contemporary world have been women. I really don't know how you could perceive the print industry as not being accepting of women. And, my favorite art directors are, you guessed it, Women!
Anna Fosca October 15, 2010
I HATE EVERYONE ON DRAWGER! ESPECIALLY THE "MEN"!
NIck Wright October 15, 2010
Robert- hunting season is in depending on where you live,,, bear roasts are good! Best. Nick Wright
Elwood H. Smith October 15, 2010
C'mon, Heidi, that's not fair. You write: "I bet that I can start a list of names of who will stay and who will go and it will not be based on how much value they have added to the front page. It is only a matter of time before they start to throw each other under the bus." I can understand some anger at what's happened here, but I've been on Drawger a long time and I'm willing to wager that what goes on on the front pages is very important to Zimm. No one in the back room is going to throw anyone under the bus. Things are a bit strange here, but cannibalism is not hanging in the air.
Paul B October 16, 2010
You might take an example of winemakers. Many of the big names in winemaking have sold out their brand as it became too big, and started a new small winery doing the stuff they like the best. Thus a win-win. The big winery goes off in a direction, mostly happy and satisfying customers with a good product. The little old winemaker goes back to tinkering with the blends he likes, not having to worry about all the ugly big company stuff.
Ian Mack October 16, 2010
The whole thing reads a little like a dictatorship. You have allowed these people into this community. You were tolerant. They have breathed life into it. Now they are invested in it. Now you are kicking them out, on the authority of "I am Drawger" and with the justification of "There is too much content." Are you scared to start anew? To go off and explore new territory? You can do it, you already know that. As an illustrator, you also know that sometimes when you expose your 'baby' to others, sometimes you lose it when they pick it up and carry it to heights you can't reach yourself. Being in my thesis year though, I can well understand the feeling of wanting to say "Just back off, this is mine." I'm just a student though, I haven't been kicked out, or invited. What I can say about all this is so what, there are countless other blogs with valuable information, other websites of the same quality. This applies to both the ins, and the outs, of the illustrators. In short, Zimm, are you Drawger? Or are they Drawger?
Rob October 16, 2010
It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to... ;) na seriously I understand the reasons. I think a lot of websites lose value when the average quality goes down, i.e. too many people. On the other hand, I can easily imagine some big names leaving - whether it be at how people are being kicked out or even a slight embarrassment at being singled out as good enough to stay... which would have the same effect as too many people - not enough good stuff!
marko October 19, 2010
Thought I'd chip in as a follower and fan of the website for years and years. I've a bit of experience in the artist community building side and have been through many similar situations that can arise from time to time. One thing i've learned is it's far to easy to take web based grievances to heart, and as the tenacious image makers we are we can be damn pig headed when we want to be. It's no surprise so many of us work solo ;) I actually think the solution and the problem is with the design of the website itself. As a community evolves so must the solution. This can take a while and may take a bit of testing on other architectures but it I think it would be well worth the effort to maintain the community and to mix it up a bit. First off I'd recommend a more open non-public website blog or forum for those behind the scenes to air their issues with the website rather than needing to do it in the main website content comments. Just not a good idea to reveal the troubles to the public I feel. I'd then recommend looking at the content everyone is interested in - Main sections like Step by Steps, Inspirations, Articles, Rambling, News etc., that people can access across artists in top level blogs. Of course you can also then go down into individuals blogs. The big one I think that would be great would be to be able to 'follow' or 'add' your favourite people's blogs to your own 'personal drawger'. It's kinda nearly there with the RSS feed. And the homepage I would make more a standard vertical paginated blog than matrix of thumbnails. At the end of the day Drawger is just a group blog. And I don't see that there are really THAT many members. More options to view the content and display it should sort any need for interventions by the technical team.