On the last Wednesday of each month, creative Amazonians attend a virtual meet up open to all Amazon employees called Drawing After Dark. On a zoom call, dozens of creatives work with a professional artist who guides them through figure drawing. We captured the origin story from Josh Sternberg; a principle UX designer who started this initiative and attends each month as an active participant.
Josh often threw drawing parties at previous companies. You probably wouldn’t hear about these events taking place in traditional corporate America settings; but they were a popular event Josh would frequent when he was going to art school in New York City and Boston. He’d attend these all night “draw-a-thons”; describing “multiple rooms and each room had different...DJs or live music and models and people drawing.” Josh would attend, intending to draw, but would stay for the creative party that ensued. Josh felt inspired each time he attended one of these events, so he thought that implementing this in the tech industry could be a unique way to connect creatives. “The idea was to get figure models and make it into...a three-hour sort of social event,” he explained. Just a few months after his doodle notes were discovered, that’s exactly what happened.
“Drawing After Dark” started in Stackhouse; a renovated laundry supply building with architecture that evokes creativity. Josh Sternberg worked with co-founders, Nastasia Tebeck and Anthony Olinares, to bring pizza, drinks, and art supplies into the building. They worked with “models from a local art school who would come dressed in themes” to the building in dazzling costumes and “do poses that were really challenging, interesting and acrobatic” for attendees to sketch. The first event was a success and word spread quickly about the unique sessions. As the events grew in popularity, they moved locations to spread out more comfortably, taking up entire floors in Amazon buildings after hours. Roughly 30% of the time was spent drawing and learning how to sketch unique poses. The other 70% involved a whole room of drawers from various skill levels, engaging in fun conversation.