October Surprises

In the summer of 2011 I was in-between book projects and felt certain another would never come along. I had moved my studio home from a nice space in downtown Seattle to take care of my wife. The space I had at home was a bit smaller than what I had downtown and I felt crowded and cramped and uninspired. I even felt a little angry for the cards I had been dealt. Then I felt guilty for being angry, angry for feeling guilty, etc. This amplified my fear of never getting another book project. And it stayed that way through the summer and into fall. 

Though I slowly became used to my new studio space, creativity was still mostly elusive. 

This is the very first monster-a-day post, nine years ago.

By September I was sketching again and trying to write. And on October 1st, I gave myself an assignment. Create a new monster from scratch every morning for the whole month.

It could not be something I created earlier, and it couldn’t even be from sketches I had done previously. It had to be created from a completely blank page everyday. Thirty-one monsters in thirty-one days. Just in time for Halloween.

I could share them everyday on Facebook. Which was fun because who doesn’t like to share their work and reap the likes and compliments.

Of course sharing your mission of daily monsters with others set me up for a kind of accountability. A good thing. If I hadn’t posted something new by 1:00 or later each day, I’d get messages asking where today’s entry was.  

Creating new monsters also helped my writing. Most of them seem to have a story swirling around them.

One of them was the eventual inspiration for my book Bunnies!!! Though the monster and the bunnies are completely different, the seed was planted with this entry from October 21, 2012 (and yes I know about the typo.)

This daily monster inspired my book Bunnies!!!

I did monster-a-day in October for the next several years until life became more complicated. I would try each October and get a third to half of them done and even skipped one year entirely. I never again filled a whole month. Until this year. I am exercising my discipline and creativity again this October and am a day or two behind on entries but plan on finishing strong this year! Hopefully there is a story or two I can drag out of some of them.

You can see my daily monsters at Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/kevan.atteberry, and on Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/kevanatteberry/



  1. So fun. So fierce. 🙂

  2. Awesome, Kevan! Such cool artwork – I love monsters!

  3. So many fun and creative monsters.

    May the sweet memories of your dear wife continue your creativity. Cheers to pink drinks.

  4. Most of the time deadlines work for me, too. If you’re still caring for your wife, that’s huge! Doing something like your art is probably very therapeutic! Good on ya!

  5. Ah, battle a monster each day! These are great Kevan.

  6. Kevan, your monsters are such lovable creatures!

  7. Monsters are just what I needed!

  8. One of your incomparable monsters lives in a Vermont ArtBarn and feels right at home. Thank you again.

  9. Each one unique and fun. I admire your commitment and creativity. 🙂

  10. Kevan, I love this so much. I’ve followed your monsters and appreciate the advice to set up a challenge with accountability! Thank you for the inspiration.

  11. Wow! These are so cutest monsters. Thanks for the inspiration to keep creating this morning, Kevan.

  12. What a creative assignment! I think writers could use this is reverse. One sentence for thirty days (choose month) to write one line about a monster, rabbit, dog, cat, etc. Thank you. Thank you.

  13. You have a marvelous imagination!

  14. Should monsters make me smile? I hope so because these do!

  15. That’s a great challenge and accountability method! Good luck!

  16. Truly inspiring!

  17. What a bunch of adorable monsters!! I loved your story & your creativity is off the charts!

  18. Creativity is never wasted! Even if nothing comes from the effort, you have sharpened your creative skills and flexed your creative muscles. That will pay off in the end.

  19. I’m betting there’s a story or two in this year’s monster creations! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Very inspiring and creative!

  21. These monsters under a bed wouldn’t be so bad! 🙂

  22. I appreciate your story on different levels. As the parent of a child with complex disabilities who also has a day job (and sucky commute), keeping up my creativity and energy level in my writing can feel challenging. And yet it is so therapeutic when I do get some writing time, whether for 5 minutes or 2 hours. Your creative solution and your art are inspirational. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Love, love, love these!! You are so talented! Keep those little monsters coming!

  24. I forgot to add that I bought the Tickle Monster book for our one-year old granddaughter! She loves it! It is adorable!

  25. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    Monsters with heart and soul – love ’em!

  26. Wow, love that, and love the monsters–thanks for sharing!

  27. LOVE them! Each one is so unique and adorable (not the thing you are going for, I’m sure). Thanks for sharing!

  28. Cutest monsters I’ve ever seen!

  29. Your monsters are adorable and so lovable. You must be proud.

  30. We all have monsters (in our lives), but Kevin, yours are so dang cute. Plus, your persistence is an inspiration to all of us.

  31. I’m coming to your post a little late, Kevan, but wanted to let you know how lovely this was. Very relatable, and impactful to hear how this exercise was intertwined with a specifically challenging time in your life. 30 monsters in a month was an ambitious challenge! It’s great that you’re continuing on the tradition each October. I hope you can give yourself permission on any given year to scale it down when you need to—even a monster a week would still be a great accomplishment. ?
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us all.

    • Thanks, Eliza! Yes, I have given myself permission not to create at times. In fact I have not completed a whole month since early on. Skipping a couple non-sequential years when I was in a couple of particularly bad place. But I am so thrilled with finishing this year’s collection. And I think I saved the best for last!!

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