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Here’s Why Thousands of Artists Are Drawing Mer-People on Instagram

Welcome to #MerMay.
Artists like Ego Rodriguez take the month of may to get inspired by merpeople. Photo by Ego Rodriguez.

Throughout the month of May, sketchers and illustrators on Instagram have been finding their inspiration under the sea. In a #MerMay titled project, artists from all over the world have been creating mermaid inspired works to take part in a popular hashtag.

Started by Tom Bancroft, an illustrator who has worked with the likes of Marvel, Disney and Dreamworks on projects like Mulan, Aladdin and The Lion King, the hashtag provides a dose of daily inspiration for artists. "I wasn't able to participate in 2016, so I was particularly excited to join in #MerMay this year," Emily Chow tells Creators. Bancroft started the project last year. "I love seeing trends in the Instagram art community that inspire me to create and connect with fellow artists."


Like #InkTober, #MerMay's premise is simple: create mermaid inspired work during the month of May. This has turned up as everything from children's book-appropriate renderings as well as pin-up mermaids and a variety of muscled mermen. Some even have gone outside of merpeople, drawing other under the sea animals like the female anglerfish, knowing for absorbing male anglerfish and keeping them only for their testes. This year, Bancroft issued a series of daily prompts to keep illustrators inspired but adherence to sub-themes like "#MayTheFourthBeWithYou" and "Draw Your Friend As A Mermaid" wasn't mandatory.

For his contributions, Bancroft has created pieces inspired by pop stars like Ariana Grande and this year created what he calls Instagram's first exclusive children's book. It features Lani, a mermaid, as the titular character in The Mermaid Who Wanted To Fly.

"I particularly love drawing pinups, but mainly I just love drawing girls of all shapes and sizes, whether they're ladies I already follow, original characters or characters from pop culture," Ashleigh Beevers, a participant of the effort, said. For her #MerMay series, though, Beevers added an aspect. "I thought going with a fruit theme would help me develop a nice little cohesive set of illustrations that I may be able to put up on my store and I'm really happy with what's happened so far."

Others are also putting their works up for sale. Ego Rodriguez offered a signed print of a hunky merman created for #MerMay to One Piece, a group showing of artists hoping to support gay men who are reportedly suffering atrocities in Chechnya. Proceeds from the sale of his work, as well as the other works in the showing, will go towards the Russian LGBT network.


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