by Paul Wolf

Jackson artists — experienced or just starting out — have a place to call home.

The Jackson Drawing Club meets Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the back room at Sneaky Beans Coffee Shop.

Founders Justin Ransburg and Sam Clark said they crafted the idea at an art show last fall.

“It was right after you were in the [Portico Artist Rising] show at The Cedars,” Clark reminded Ransburg.

“Sam and I talked about getting together to draw,” Ransburg recalled. “We said, ‘We can get other artists together and turn this into a thing.”

Drawing clubs or meetups like these exist in other cities and Clark and Ransburg, followers of similar clubs on social media, decided to create a Jackson version. “You call folks you know and I‘ll call folks I know… just keeping it low key, having fun, and seeing who was interested in meeting up,” Ransburg said.

The only rule is this: “once you have a seat, you have to draw something, even if it’s just a stick man,” Ransburg noted (even suggesting I draw before I leave).

On the night we visited, about a dozen people were sitting around a communal table or on nearby couches, all content to work on their individual pieces. But that’s not always the case.

Ransburg details regular “challenges” that begin with one person drawing an element, only having ten minutes to complete their part. The paper is then passed around and each person gets a ten minute chance to add their own creative flair.

Clark calls the result “amazing.”

“People are learning: you learn from everyone,” he said. “Everyone is growing.”

“We push each other, even if not blatantly,” Ransburg adds. “Bouncing inspiration, sharing ideas, giving critiques.”

“I get inspired seeing others’ work… different styles,” Clark said. “It gets my creative juices going.”

Drawing Club is made up of more than “drawers.”

Sculptors, graphic designers, illustrators, video editors and digital painters have found a place to commune, to share skills and to inspire.

Frederick Roseman, who works under the name Kaz-Magic Arts, dabbles in many mediums, explored mostly through his You Tube channel. “I teach people how to draw there and encourage them on how to be better person,” he said, “basics on how to build up to be a good artist in your own way.”

Graphic designer Kathryn Shuff said Jackson Drawing Club is a good source of inspiration. “A lot of what I design is corporate,” she said. “When I come here, I’m making things I don’t normally. My art has gotten more colorful and vibrant! It’s refreshed my creativity and I take what I do here to my day job.”

Her husband, Bill Shuff, who works in the banking industry, said he grew up no artistic background. “My joke is that I’m banned from playing Pictionary in 12 states and Puerto Rico,” he laughed of his inability to even draw stick figures. “I still can’t draw, but Kathryn suggested collage. So I took this video game magazine and I’m cutting things out, creating vignettes and scenes – taking pieces and reimagining them. (Drawing club) has given me an artistic voice I never thought I would have and encourages me to do something I never would have done otherwise.”

Illustrators Jesse Labbe’ and Anthony Coffey have been working together for over ten years. The two have collaborated, even across state lines, on multiple books and art, and now are working to grow their own company, Certifiable Studios, which specializes in table top games.

“Our office is the perfect hang out,” Labbe’ said. “We’re there more than we should be and it’s hard to break away from work. We come here for the sole purpose of just getting out (among other creatives).

Through a group like Jackson Drawing Club, the co-workers say their Thursday night bursts of creativity could be their next big thing. Or as Coffey put it, “everything we work on could be the next project.”

While the group, in practice since last October, has moved around a bit, Sneaky Beans has them settled. “(Sneaky Beans owner) Byron (Knight) is such a supporter of the arts and local community and he was all excited,” Clark said, “so this kind of become a home base, I guess.”

What’s the end goal? “To have everyone in Jackson drawing on Thursday at six at Sneaky Beans,” Ransburg chuckled.

“If you’re used to an art department (in college), you are in creative environment,” Clark said. “Then you get out [of school], and think, ‘Where is everybody?’ Drawing club is a connecting point; we want to let people know, if anyone is missing that connective vibe, we’re here.”

Anyone is welcomed, all ages and all skills. Follow the group on Instagram. Hat tip to Garrad Lee and Byron Knight for the story idea.