Submissions are now closed.

4 years. 300+ drawings. Hundreds more in submissions. Rare Words, in this form, has served it’s purpose.

I began the blog in 2009 as a means of instilling some discipline to my illustration work. I was stalled with writer’s block on a comic book and found myself drawing the same imagery when I sketched. I created Rare Words with the theory being that I would be challenged by these mystery submissions and guilted into drawing them in a timely manner because people would be waiting and watching. It worked.

On a good week, I posted 2 drawings. I would often sit and draw 5 in a sitting and just time them to go live on the blog with a few days in between. I’ve always preached that practice is essential for an artist, but wasn’t following my own advice. The blog challenged me with some truly extraordinary and bizarre words! Many had me running to the dictionary.

I was fortunate to meet the mystery submitters in person at comic conventions and hear why their submission was important to them. Many of these drawings have been re-posted, hung in homes, above cribs, and emblazoned as tattoos. Rare Words Volume 1 was produced as a deluxe hardcover edition.

In 2012, Flying Dog Brewery asked me to do a Rare Words-inspired event. We solicited words from their fans. Hundreds poured in as I had a 2 week window to produce as many illustrations as possible. We unveiled them, not on the blog, but in person at the brewery in a live setting. All were for sale in a buy it, take it fashion. As the night went on the artwork dwindled down in number. I liked the impermanence of the live setting. That event was captured as Rare Words Volume 2, a folio of prints.

I have since held workshops at universities down to elementary schools about Rare Words as a brainstorming process. I’m passing along a method that works for me to help others snap that writer’s block or creative monotony.

With that said, Rare Words as a blog has reached it’s end. But as a method of working, I see no end in sight.

Thank you to all who submitted in good faith, waited with patience, introduced yourself at shows, bought artwork and the books, and above all else, was a part of something special.

With gratitude,


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About The Blog

Rare Words is the collaborative drawing blog by Mark Burrier where readers submit words that become the creative starting point for drawings. Look behind-the-scenes at the process.

Mark Burrier is an illustrator, cartoonist, and designer whose work has received awards from the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, Print, American Illustration, 3×3 Magazine, HOW Magazine, and STEP Inside Design.

The Book

Rare Words Volume 1 is a 100 page, full color, limited edition, hardcover book collecting 100 favorites from the first year. Purchase online.