Stuck at home? Take free drawing classes from famous illustrators

Most are designed for kids—but all welcome the young at heart.

Stuck at home? Take free drawing classes from famous illustrators
[Source Image: DragonImages/iStock]

Work-from-home has become the new normal for adults in the U.S. at the same time that school closures have forced millions of children inside. Parents are trying to juggle being teachers, caretakers, and coworkers while also staying sane. So illustrators have stepped up to create virtual resources and free classes for kids, parents, and anyone else who needs a creative break in the midst of the pandemic.


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Drawing classes

Carson Ellis
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: @carsonellis
Illustrator Carson Ellis is leading art classes for adults and kids alike with her Quarantine Art Club. Every day will have a different drawing prompt to get the creative juices flowing, so after watching a couple quick step-by-step video clips, you can take your eyes off a screen for a change and put pen to paper. The first assignment? Draw a self-portrait. Everyone from fellow illustrator Mister Hope to 8-year-old Olive Herrera took the challenge. See what your other club members are working on with the hashtag #quarantineartclub. (Each prompt also has its own hashtag.)

Wendy MacNaughton
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @wendymac
Wendy MacNaughton, the well-known San Francisco illustrator who did the art for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, launched a daily drawing class on Instagram for “kids of all ages, parents of kids, parents of parents, aunties/uncles, friends and pets.” The first class involved both: students drew each other and a dog. While she initially intended it to be a five-minute class, it ended up going for 20. MacNaughton is offering the classes via Instagram Live, but if you can’t make the set time, it will be on her Instagram story for 24 hours. Be sure to use the hashtag #drawtogether.


Trisha Zemp
Frequency: Ongoing
Where to find it: @trishazemp
Designer Trisha Zemp has made her stop-motion kids camp free. You need to take a few steps in order to access it: share her post announcing the free service in your Instagram stories and tag her account. If your account is private, DM her a screenshot of your story. She’ll then DM you a code to access the camp at no cost. “I am hoping that by offering this resource, it can distill some of the worry that many of us are feeling. (And keep kiddos busy with creative play!),” she wrote in the post. Zemp notes that the class is for kids of all ages—which means grownups are welcome too.

Jarrett Krosoczka
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
Where to find it: Krosoczka’s YouTube channel
Children’s book illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka has launched a daily YouTube series called “Draw everyday with JJK.” If you can’t catch the episode when it goes live, not to worry—all the videos are posted on his YouTube channel. The first episode provides a quick introduction to the series, which will “give you practical tools so you can tell stories using words and pictures on your own.” Or it will just give your kids the opportunity to draw Baby Yoda with the help of a professional. Each episode is about 20 minutes long.

Jarrett Lerner
Frequency: Daily
Where to find it: Lerner’s website
Comic book illustrator Jarrett Lerner is releasing a series of illustrated activities each day, including blank comic book pages, a “character-maker,” blank clothes your kids can help design, and a “Finish This Comic” Activity, which is like MadLibs for artists. The activities will be archived on his site so you can access them whenever your kid needs some brain stimulation and you need what one mom called #creativesilence.


E.B. Goodale
Frequency: Daily on weekdays; 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. PT
Where to find it: @ebgoodale
Children’s book author and illustrator E.B. Goodale is launching a drawing class for toddlers aptly called “Drawing with toddlers.” This one has a looser structure: Goodale will take requests for what to draw live, “or you can just sit back and watch the chaos.” It’s specifically geared toward toddlers “because that’s what I’ve got on my hands,” she says in the post, “and their attention span is short. It will be a messy experiment!”

Thyra Heder
Frequency: TBD
Where to find it: @thyraheder
Heder is breaking out of the 2D with all sorts of creative projects on her Instagram feed and stories: You can make animal costumes inspired by her book Fraidyzoo out of cardboard and Scotch tape, or even simpler animal masks out of cereal boxes with step-by-step instructions. The best part is you don’t need to leave the house—all of her projects use basic supplies and kitchen staples.

Read alongs

Other illustrators will be using Instagram Live to read their books aloud during a daily story time. Times are posted on their Instagram feeds should you and your kids want to participate:


Oliver Jeffers
Frequency: Daily; 2  p.m. ET/11a.m. PT
Where to find it: @oliverjeffers
Jeffers will be reading his popular books like How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found, and more every day on Instagram Live. The posts will be up for 24 hours, and then the recording will be available on his website, according to his post.

Sophie Blackall
Frequency: Every few days
Where to find it: @sophieblackall
Children’s book author and illustrator Sophie Blackall is reading from some of her favorite books too, including Ivy and Bean and Hello Lighthouse. Each video is about 10 minutes long. She hasn’t announced a set schedule, but the videos so far have been posted two days apart.

Mac Barnett
Frequency: Daily; 9 a.m. ET/12 p.m. PT
Where to find it: @macbarnett
Children’s book author Mac Barnett is starting his own daily book club and will be reading one of his books everyday for about a month, according to his announcement post. The video will be available on Barnett’s Instagram story for 24 hours after it’s posted. So grab a hat, join in, and start reading.


About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.


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