1) Project : Rooftop
Perfect for: Artists focused on character design and/or comics.
Started in 2006, comic creator Dean Trippe and comic journalist Chris Arrant started Project : Rooftop as a way to invite artists to reinvent the costumes of classic and popular comic book characters, from Batman to The Fantastic Four. What has emerged is a wildly entertaining and inspiring collection of concepts from both established and emerging illustrators and cartoonists. Even if you don't participate in the redesign contests, it's addictive to flip through the archive and see all the amazing (and sometimes plain old wacky) redesigns of comic favorites like Superman, Spiderman, and Wolverine. Below are three great and different takes on Wonder Woman.
left to right: Joe Quinones, James Stowe, and Maris Wicks
Perfect for: Artists looking to experiment with hand-lettering, graphic designers, and foodies.
Brother and sister team Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell started this website simply as a pet project, but it's grown into a respected and much loved community where artists submit their illustrated recipes. Several published books later (!), you can also visit their equally popular sister site They Draw & Travel, which features an extensive library of illustrated maps. Both websites have developed a cult following and have even become a hub for art directors to find new talent. Artists can start an account and submit recipes/maps at any time, and Nate and Salli will post the cream of the crop on the homepage regularly to keep things fresh (hint: make sure you follow submission directions carefully, as your submitted piece could be picked for the next book!).
The talented Tracy Mattocks
They Draw & Cook co-creator Nate Padavick
Perfect for: Surface designers, artists focused on color and pattern.
Spoonflower is a site that prints custom fabric, wall decals, wall paper and giftwrap from your own uploaded designs. Basically, anything that could have a pattern on it! In the mix is a weekly contest where artists get a theme and make a pattern to go along with it. The winner gets their design sold for a week on the site (and earns 10% of all sales), PLUS a nifty Spoonflower gift card (perfect for buying a few yards of your winning fabric design, right?). Want to learn more about making patterns and repeats? There are many online web tutorials and e-courses available at sites like Make It In Design.
Contest-winning patterns by the lovely Miriam Bos
Perfect for: Artists wanting a wide range of creative freedom; recent graduates or newcomers to illustration.
Probably the most well-known site from this list, Illustration Friday was created by illustrator and former art-director Penelope Dullaghan as a way to force herself to regularly make new portfolio pieces early on in her freelance career. The name says it all: A topic is decided upon by the community, and artists have until Friday to post their visual interpretation of it. Past topics have included such themes as "Secret", "Creature", and "Explore". I particularly like this site because it allows people of all backgrounds to participate no matter what medium or style you work in. So whether you are into ethereal, somewhat surreal paintings or cute children's book illustrations, 99% of artists will find they can jump right in and adapt the topic of the week to their way of working.
Illustrator Kelly Murphy's submission for the topic "Midsummer Night"
So what are you waiting for? Dig in!