Rare Words is a collaborative drawing blog.

It began as a project to inspire collaboration with between the artist and the viewer. Readers are an integral part of the creative process by providing the spark for each work. They initiate the collaboration by submitting a word or phrase that becomes the creative starting point for drawings. Each illustration is an interpretation of the word(s) and is posted with the submitters name. The submissions keep pouring in and the blog has reached 200 illustrations and counting.

The Book

In the summer of 2010, through the forum of Kickstarter.com, fundraising began for a book collection of 100 illustrations that appeared on the blog. Response was overwhelming making the fundraising a success. In September of 2010, Rare Words Volume 1 was published as a full color, hardcover book collection.


Trisha Alaniz submitted one of my favorites: “relatively unscathed.” I begin each drawing in my sketchbook doing very small, loose thumbnails. If I find myself laboring over a drawing, a move onto the next one and will revisit it later. My first thoughts were to show some bodily harm that leaves the person still functioning (as you see from the 1 legged guy and the other split in half), but then the idea of a natural occurrence like a downed tree popped into my head driving home. Those doodles were done while driving and not looking down at the page!

I then pencil (again very loosely) onto a sheet of 9 x 12 watercolor paper. I knew I was going to ink this with a brush so I wanted the soft edges and dry brush effect that watercolor paper can give.

I scan the page in without erasing the pencils and as a grayscale image to retain the uneven blacks in the drawing. With all of the drawings, it’s been a goal to not be too precious with each drawing and to act on first instincts. While each drawing is colored in Photoshop, I used only flat colors and no textures that were not present in the drawing to begin with (ie. no fake backgrounds, gradients, etc.). I love the muted color palette in the finished piece.

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.