How Daily Sketches Saved My Creative Career

How Daily Sketches Saved My Creative Career

It all started as a way to hold myself accountable. 

For two months, I'd been buried developing ads for clients in the outdoor industry, art directing photo shoots, hitting deadlines and running my business. I was producing all kinds of things, but I wasn't actually creating anything. I wasn't bringing anything to life. I hadn't picked up a paintbrush or a pencil in an embarrassingly long period of time.

As an artist, that's a bad place to be. I've always prided myself on improvement. Not on perfection — only on improvement. To develop any skill as a professional, or life in general, it takes time, discipline, dedication and patience. I bet Michael Jordan never went two months without touching a basketball (even during his baseball days). Patrick Mahomes probably doesn't go two days without touching a football. And even though their salaries have more zeroes than mine, the principle is the same. If you're going to be great, you have to put in the time. 

And I wasn't.

So one night, after putting our two year old to bed, I poured myself a "daddy drink," sat down in a recliner around 9 PM and opened my sketchbook under the dim yellow light of a coffee table lamp. And I drew a deer. 

Ryan Kirby Whitetail Deer Sketch

This was the first of what I called my #SketchDaily series. From that first evening through the end of the year, regardless of what I did during work hours that day, I sat down every night and sketched something…anything. From a doe white-tailed deer to an alligator to a bullfrog and everything in between, I simply chose poses and postures that I found interesting and drew them, with no bias towards species, size or sex. 

I didn't draw with the intention to sell them or impress anyone. In fact, I avoided that like late season ducks flaring from a blind full of rookie waterfowl hunters. After spending all day handling client requests and revisions, the last thing I needed was more pressure seeping into my creative work.

I used my nightly sketch time to relax and lose myself in the creative process, finding joy again in my work. As a result, I did better work and improved dramatically. The sketches became extremely popular with fans and followers, who appreciated the unpolished, unrehearsed authenticity as much as I did. 

Ryan Kirby Sketching

My DMs and inbox filled with requests to buy them. My answer was always a polite no. While I used them as supporting art in our paper prints (like the Growth & Maturity of the White-tailed Buck), the original sketches just stacked up in my office. I never sold them and never printed them…until now.

The result of these years of sketching has been some of my most authentic work ever. In fact, I believed this fresh approach to drawing saved my creativity, and my career. They offer a more personal glimpse into my life as an artist and hunter, and I'm proud to now offer them as a special edition of prints for a limited time.

Here's how it works:

Throughout the year, we'll be announcing a new Sketch Drop with 4-5 themed sketches available for purchase for ONE WEEK ONLY. We'll print as many as we sell, and then close the vault on that run of sketches. When they're gone, they're gone. 

I carefully inspect each sketch for quality, then sign and stamp it before it leaves my studio. The prints are 8" x 10" - a size that's easy to frame and fits on virtually any wall space. They're $44 each, and with each drop, we'll be offering a bundle package where you can buy all of the sketches in that drop and receive a free bonus sketch (one that's not available for individual purchase).

Ryan Kirby Sketch Drop

Sketch Drop 001: The Grand Slam

For our very first Sketch Drop, we're offing my Grand Slam Wild Turkey Subspecies art: Eastern, Osceola, Merriam's and Rio Grande. Buy all four and get this edition's free bonus sketch: an early morning longbeard gobbling from his roost. Check them out below and order yours here.

Sketch Drop 001

Framing Options

We do not offer framing on our website, but we've searched far and wide to find 5 perfect, easy to order frames that look great with these sketches. Order yours through our Amazon Affiliate links here:

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