It seemed like too complex a project to simply produce and set aside — even though it was finished, and had succeeded in generating plenty of buzz.
Last spring, UK artist Benjamin Redford undertook to create a crowdsourced Web drawing by asking Kickstarter participants to reserve small cubes of space on the canvas for $1 each. Participants could ask the artist to draw whatever they wanted and could reserve any number of cubes. Internetopia was the final result, based on requests from all over the world over a 35-day period.
Hundreds of people suggested subjects for Redford to draw, and a dramatic hand-crafted rendition of the collective imagination, all in one place, made the whole much more than the sum of its parts. Released after three months of “nonstop drawing,” the artwork measured 24 x 36 inches, entirely done in 0.1mm technical pens and pencils. It was a subtle, detailed monochromatic work of art. Viewable online, observers could zoom into every corner and section of the picture.
Unable to completely put it down, Redford later circled back to his original contributors to find out their thoughts on how to follow up and where they wanted to take the project next. The answer should not have surprised anyone — though Redford admits to being somewhat taken aback: they wanted to see a color version. “It was a close call, but I expected the community to opt for another drawing– which was 2nd place — rather than seeing the same one in color,” he said.
Thus, Redford returned to the original work and rendered it in full, astonishing color, and now the second version of Internetopia is ready for viewing.
The new drawing lives online, of course, but Redford said several galleries have also expressed interest in displaying the work, so he looks forward to having a physical space for it too.
How did he decide what colors to apply to the drawing? While Redford referred back to the original list of requests to make sure any participant color requests were adhered to, apart from that, “It was mostly instinct. I wanted to restrict the color palette though, so I used a classic 64 color palette lifted from vintage comics — something I was brought up on and still love to this day.”
There’s now a limited edition of 500 signed and numbered full-color prints, lithographically printed on 170gsm Olin rough paper available for £100 each, including worldwide shipping.
Which version does the artist prefer? “Tough question,” he said. “Changes every day.”