What is Skav Art?

Skav art is simple in it's basic form. It's creating a small piece of work straight from the imagination, using cheap and convenient materials like a pencil or a biro. It can be fair to describe it as "advanced doodling" or "finished thumbnail sketching" as it focuses more on that first initial creative idea. It does away with pre or post development processes as practiced in other artforms that could corrupt and change it. It's that first raw concept that is worked on as the finished piece using a single, basic medium. The word "skav" derives directly from words "scavenge" and "scavvie" as well as other derogatory words used against others for no other reason except to make them feel inferior. The word skav also fits the frugal nature of the artform.

Materials used for it, such as a pencil or a biro can be easily obtained from most places, along with something to draw on. A vast array of expensive and encumbersome art materials isn't required and is shunned by the skav artist. Anything upto the size of A5, such as a small scrap of notepaper, or even the back of an envelope is as good as the finest artboard to any skav artist (and alot cheaper!). If they really need to buy any kind of drawing medium (such as a fineliner or a used second-hand technical pen), then a couple of pounds is the most they are likely to pay for them.


  1. Only work from the imagination. Which means that no reference can be used. This keeps the finished artwork honest, raw and personalised to the artist. It may look a little rough around the edges, but to use any reference to tidy the image would only corrupt and dilute that initial spark of creativity which skav art tries to capture. The results tend to be more of a "memory of things" much like a dream can be. This, in itself, can add to the piece where using reference cannot. Cultural references are fine if they can be remembered, but they cannot be directly copied.
  2. A5 in size is the limit. Skav art isn't meant to be worked on in large formats. The idea being that it should be more convenient, with a skav artist's studio being wherever they are. If they're having to carry around numerous materials then they're doing something wrong.
  3. No mixed media. When working on a piece, I use only one pen, or pencil, for the complete work. Like rule 2, it's meant for convenience and to stay within the area of it's doodling origins. Using an array of different colours, or even pre-pencilling the image (for inking) detracts from that.
  4. Use only cheap art materials. One good thing about skav art is that it's easy on the wallet! The materials used shouldn't cost much. A couple of pounds (at the most) should buy all that is needed. Expensive art materials are not considered unless they can be bought very cheaply second hand. A simple biro or pencil is really all that is required, and anything suitable which can be used to draw on.
  5. No pre-thumbnail sketching. It doesn't make any sense to do thumbnail concepts beforehand, because the thumbnail sketch itself is the actual artwork and is worked on as the finished piece.
  6. Mistakes are part of the process. Skav art has no concerns about making mistakes because it doesn't demand perfection. The skav artist learns how to encompass them, or work around them before ever deciding to discard a piece.
  7. Commissions are incompatible. Skav art never works to any set brief as it's entirely from the artist's imagination. This doesn't mean that someone cannot use a skav artwork for some project, it's just that skav art cannot be commissioned in the same way as, say, graphic designers or illustrators would be. A skav artist can take on commissions, but the results would never be true skav art.