Whats Up With That Speedpainting Craze?

I recently ran into some trouble when I uploaded a sketch to a German conceptart group on facebook -because I wrote how long it took. Usually when posting to my tumblr -sketchbook, I have attached information about what I did, why I did  it, with which tools and how long it took me.

Sure, the time it took was and is not a necessary piece of information - only for myself. I thought about that matter for a few days and realized it might be better to avoid German groups. (Little known fact is that everyone in the world is more polite than Germans - trust me, I am German and hate so much of it:) There are a lot of (more polite) groups on facebook and elsewhere, showcasing "Spitpaints" or speedpaintings from artists all over the world. Either there is a given topic or entries can be freestyle.

This "craze" about drawing fast as a snap of a camera is a trend that gives me a very interesting lookout for the future.


Because many will give up on the way to get better - which is a pity.

First, let´s take the group speedpainting funtimes for example. This group consists of roughly 16.000 members. I estimate a 500 of them to be very active. Only 150 of them are very very good. What´s up with the rest?

I imagine the following:

The vast majority of the 99% is either frustrated or take longer to finish a piece than the other 1% and therefore are frustrated again if they try.

The craze is symptomatically adding pressure to a keyhole - as if there is a keyhole position that could be filled. Sure, visualization of concepts is an important asset for any conceptartist out there looking for work. But speed isn´t in the list.

I stumbled about an article of Mike Corriero in Advanced Photoshop Magazine from 2007 and he painted a landscape there and called it a speed-painting - but it took him around 6 hours to finish.

When you work with Inks or Charcoal, an illustration or painting can be created within the time of 15 minutes easily - and that is traditional matter.

So I believe it isn´t a problem of the members posting the time they needed, but the recipient who is bothered by these numbers - which can be a frustrated artist whose medium will either not allow for such a fast process or he/she´s still 10.000 hours away from reaching that level. (FYI. it take around 25.000 hours to be really good at any craft - but being good at speedpainting is not taken into account)

One important aspect about the matter that I learned through the discussion in the group was that it could have the negative impact of giving the impression to prospective clients, that a nearly finished piece of artwork can be done in the shortest amount of time.

Artists even get compared; an inquiry can include the sentence:"but this artist makes it in that amount of time, so should you..."

Sure, that can happen...

Personally I´ve never had this case and that is because I write what I do & why I do it - this can make the difference - if not, the $90 per hour can shy away the wrong clients very easily.

The explanation below is for my own work, I can´t write about anyone else, but here are some key facts about why I do speedpaintings and why that is important to differentiate from my regular work:

  • I use speedpainting techniques as a mean to practice, to exercise. Training the eyes and hands regularly is important for anyone practicing a craft, this helps to control the creative juices
  • Musicians do practice for concerts, a visual artist has to practice too.
  • Setting a timelimit can free your mind - time in which potential can run wild
  • New learned techniques can be enhanced by targeted selfmonitoring, resulting in overal performance boost 
  • Speedpainting techniques are there to strengthen efficiency, that means more time for the fun part, less time for the hassle
  • Clients often want to showcase placeholder designs - having original, good-looking sketches is always a better representation than a badly chopped collage that should resemble the idea - publishers love to be involved in the creation process, so give them some food isn´t a bad idea dear designers :)
Sure there are differences, what I call a rough sketch can be a masterpiece for someone else and vice versa, perception is a very important matter and communicating this can enhance a complete transaction from the onset.

Below you find some examples of sketches and concept drawings which I did as part of my weekly practicing sessions. Actually the fastest piece was drawn in around 10 minutes (2nd from below) and the longest work took 2 hours.

What I call a very rough sketch:

Crazy Linework and experimentation

Some landscapes

Figure Study, real and imagined

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


  1. I really enjoyed this blog! You make some god points. Thank you Oliver Wetter.



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