The Commuter Challenge

1 December 2013

The December 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 22:17

Purchase a newspaper this month. This newspaper will provide the raw material for two pieces of visual art.

The first piece is the collage. For this, you can use as much or as little of the newspaper as you choose, but you cannot introduce outside pencil, ink, or any other source of marks or coloring other than what you can gather from the newspaper.

The second piece is the transformation. For this, feel free to color and draw on a newspaper page as much as you wish. However, you cannot include material taken from other pages, nor can you introduce any other source of paper.


1 November 2013

The November 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 10:40

The November 2013 Commuter Challenge is to draw (or paint, or sculpt, or photoshop, etc) an extreme caricature a la Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. You do not have to copy the style of Steadman or Scarfe, but you should make the caricature so extreme that the subject is nearly unrecognizable (or even completely unrecognizable). The subject of the caricature should be a specific person, but it can be anyone: politician, celebrity, fictional character, historical figure, or even yourself, or a friend or family member.


2 October 2013

The October 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 00:53

The Commuter Challenge has explored poetry in many different forms over the years. One form that we’ve never looked at, however, is the sestina. Just writing a sestina is too tame a pursuit for us, though. To keep ourselves interested, an extra obstacle has been added: We will not be choosing our own end words. They will be assigned to us, using the technique of electronic bibliomancy. In other words, they will be chosen randomly.


2 September 2013

The September 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 11:20

Create and submit an optical illusion. You may submit it in any format you like (drawing, photo, video, etc). There is no extra specification/constraint. A completely original optical illusion is preferred, but derivative and/or homage submissions are also acceptable.


1 August 2013

The August 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 12:54

For this month, it’s back to the drawing board, because this month’s challenge is to produce a diagram. What kind of diagram is up to you: it could be anything from an anatomical diagram to a scatter-plot, or even some kind of gussied-up infographic. The only constraint is that it has to have a mention, or some kind of link, to a mineral (or the field of mineralogy).

There are no requirements as to how the diagram is produced. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out, or search for “diagrams” on, or for a different approach, google for “xkcd infographics”.


2 July 2013

The July 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 23:59

The July 2013 Commuter Challenge is to write one or more poems related to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and/or “Through the Looking-Glass”. Write a poem in any format about one or more of the characters or themes. Try to focus on the less ‘famous’ characters and/or less obvious themes from the books.

If you prefer extra constraints, pick format and character combinations at random from the lists below:

  • Formats: Sonnet, Ottava Rima, Rubaiyat, Triolet, Double Dactyl, Lento.
  • Characters: Mock Turtle, Dodo, Duchess’s Cook, White Knight, Knave of Hearts, Humpty Dumpty.

(If you choose the random format/character route, please say so in your submission.)


2 June 2013

The June 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 12:05

Traditionally, summer is the time for reruns. So for this month’s commuter challenge, pick a challenge that you’ve completed before and re-run it. This can be an opportunity to explore a new aspect of the challenge, or to follow up on an idea that you had but ultimately didn’t use. Or it can be a chance to do yourself one better, or to make use of new skills or experience that you’ve acquired since that time. Or it can just be a chance to spend some more time on a challenge that you really enjoyed.


1 May 2013

The May 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 14:46

The May 2013 Commuter Challenge is to write an ottava rima poem using as much archaic, obsolete, and dated terminology as possible. Really go for it — don’t limit yourself to “ere” and “betwixt”; use words like “sweven” and “eft” (or even “mimeograph”, if you want to go that route). For extra credit, make it an ottava rima poem of two or more stanzas.

The ottava rima stanza is eight lines (usually iambic pentameter) with three alternate rhymes and one double rhyme, in the a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c pattern.


1 April 2013

The April 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 12:56

A “line-unit palindrome” is a piece of poetry that forms a palindrome on the line level. Each line appears twice (excepting the middle line if the poem has an odd number of lines), with the second half in the opposite order of the first half. Perhaps the most well-known line-palindrome poem in English is J. A. Lindon’s “As I was passing near the jail”.

Write a line-palindrome poem of at least twelve lines. As with Lindon’s creation, you are allowed to vary the punctuation in the repeated lines, but the words and their order must be the same. The subject matter is left open, with the exception that, like a proper haiku, it must include a seasonal reference.


1 March 2013

The March 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 00:48

Submit both cartoons and captions for our own Cartoon Caption Contest.

Step 1: Submit at least two captionless one-panel drawings, preferably without word balloons. They may be as intricate as you like, or as rudimentary as xkcd or explodingdog. You can carefully construct detailed illustrations, or you can slap some clip art together, or you can draw stick figures; any approach is acceptable. Any topic is fair game, but keep in mind that a good drawing for this challenge would involve a certain amount of ambiguity that even you don’t know how to resolve to its maximum humorous effect. The burden of making your cartoon funny will fall on the other participants, so you don’t need to draw anything with a built-in punchline. Draw a moose in a bubble bath. Draw a politician shaking hands with a robot. Draw an anthropomorphic book saying something to an anthropomorphic deck of cards. Draw anything at all.

Step 2: Submit captions for at least two of the illustrations that were submitted by other participants. You should not submit captions for your own drawings at any point.

Although any level of participation is encouraged, the suggested minimum requirements of this Challenge involve the submission of at least two cartoons and at least two captions. The deadline schedule is:

  • March 17 – Submit the drawing for at least one captionless, one-panel cartoon. The submissions will be posted here.
  • March 24 – Submit the drawing for a second captionless, one-panel cartoon. The new submissions will be posted alongside the earlier cartoons.
  • March 31 – Submit caption suggestions for at least two of the illustrations that were submitted by other participants.

If you don’t want to draw but you do want to submit captions (or vice versa), please do so. And of course if you want to submit more drawings or more captions than the suggested minimum, please do so.


1 February 2013

The February 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 18:05

Create a black-and-white illustration — not a grayscale drawing of various levels of shading, but an illustration consisting only of areas of solid black and solid white. Use ink, paint, or whatever medium you’re comfortable with. (And although you should be drawing by hand, you are free to use software to, for example, increase the contrast so as to remove gray-valued areas.)

The only other requirement is that your drawing’s space should be, as well as you can reasonably manage it, equally divided between black and white areas.


3 January 2013

The January 2013 Challenge

by CC @ 13:42

Make a self-portrait. The medium must be (or at least incorporate) something traditionally considered an art material and/or process usually associated with young children – crayons, or fingerpaints, or play-doh, or macaroni art, etc.