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3x5 Series

Grid of past 3x5 pieces The 3x5 Series is an ongoing project built on limitations and constraints to fuel new ideas, techniques, and exploration with ink. The rules and format are simple:

  • Create unrelated ink studies daily
  • Powered by a new randomized prompt, everyday
  • Completed from start to finish the same day
  • Limited to using ink on a 3x5 index card
  • Focus on creation over perfection”
  • Document the prompt, date, and number of the piece

The inception of this project started in October 2018 when I paticipated in Inktober. What is Inktober? It is a creative challenge that occurs yearly for the full month of October. On the first of the month, the complete list of 31 single-word prompts is revealed publicly. Artists (honestly, anyone) from around world can challenge themselves to create art daily, based on the prompts, and share their art with the community via social networks.

Same, with a twist

I wanted to continue a daily creative challenge like Inktober, but with my own constraints. The goal was creation over perfection. I accomplished this with a few simple, yet important constraints:

1. Randomized prompts

It was important to not know the prompt in advance, so as to avoid intentionally or sub-consciously thinking ahead or planning. To achieve this, I built a randomized prompt generator with a list of words seeded from the internet. This generator produces a random prompt for me with the click of a button. Since then, I’ve created a submission form where anyone can add prompts that are automatically added to the prompt generator. Getting a random prompt the day of really reduced the chance of overthinking, and encouraged doing.

2. Index cards

Index cards were ideal for a couple of reasons. The main reason was that by using a small canvas of just 3 inches by 5 inches, I would more likely find time in my day to accomplish the goal. Another reason to use index cards was that it removes the subconscious notion of preciousness” that can happen with art when using higher quality, archival mediums. This lack of material quality also makes it more cost-effective for an ongoing project like this.

3. Creation over perfection

The small, low-quality medium of an index card, and the randomized prompt re-inforced this notion that the endgame wasn’t a beautiful/clever/incredible piece of art, rather the experience in the process and open exploration. This all in conjunction with starting and finishing the piece the same day forced creativity and movement, instead of overthinking and preciousness. The series is ongoing with no goal or endgame. Since its inception in 2018, I have taken some very large hiatuses from this project, due to creative ups and downs and lack of inspiration. That said, I have created over a hundred of these 3x5’s up to this point, with many more to be made. And while there is no ultimate goal or purpose for this project, I have curated a small collection and printed limited run volumes in a zine format.

Printed volumes

Assembled run of Volume 1 I curate the collection, design the layout, print the booklets, and put together each volume by hand in a very limited run. Every cover is different and hand-drawn with ink. The covers are each a different take on the same prompt, which happens to be the name of that volume.

Buy a copy of Volume 1: Abstract