In just a few days from now, a new month of Mermay will start. So, to help you be prepared as much as you can I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about MerMay 2023!
Mermay is a 31-day drawing fest during which you have to draw a mermaid every day for the entire month of May. Every year there will be an official prompt list released by the original creator. Artists may use this prompt list as an inspiration for their artwork.
Keep reading to find out how to participate and get this year’s prompt list. But most importantly: keep reading to get tips on how to tackle this year’s Mermay!
What is Mermay?
Mermay is a 31-day drawing fest in which you have to draw a mermaid every day for the entire month of May. It was invented by Tom Bancroft, a very talented character designer, teacher, and animator, who has worked for big companies such as Disney.
As you have probably already guessed, the name Mermay is derived from the first 3 letters of the word mermaid, and the word May. That’s why sometimes Mermay is written as MerMay.
Mermay has become one of the biggest art challenges there is, having thousands of artists participating from over the world. This is why Mermay is an excellent way to make a ton of online art friends!
Simply browse the #MerMay hashtag and commend and like artwork you’re genuinely interested in.
MerMay 2023 official prompts
This is the official Mermay 2023 prompt list:
- May 1: #SelfPortrait
- May 2: #UpsideDown
- May 3: #Twisted
- May 4: #StarWars
- May 5: #CincoDeMayo
- May 6: #Mushroom
- May 7: #Merfairy
- May 8: #Dystopian
- May 9: #Heartbreak
- May 10: #Celestial
- May 11: #Villain
- May 12: #Companion
- May 13: #OldMoney
- May 14: #Mama
- May 15: #Horror
- May 16: #Celebrity
- May 17: #Emotion
- May 18: #DeepSea
- May 19: #Sunrise
- May 20: #MusicForASushiRestaurant
- May 21: #BodyPositive
- May 22: #Zodiac
- May 23: #Tradition
- May 24: #Zaddy
- May 25: #Food
- May 26: #Jewel
- May 27: #HalleBailey
- May 28: #Sailor
- May 29: #Barbie
- May 30: #Blue
- May 31: #GoodNight
Mermay is used by a lot of artists to have fun and challenge themselves. Did you know it’s also a great way to let people know you’re out there? Show off your skills and art style by participating in this super fun art challenge!
31 days of making new artwork every- single-day can be very daunting, so don’t worry: it’s totally a-okay to only do a few mermaids. Or even just one! Enjoying what others create is just as fun.
Mermay Prompt lists by artists
If you are in need of some inspiration you can follow the official prompt list. But a lot of artists make their own! A lot of lists are out there already, so a quick Google search will give you the results.
Here´s the prompt list I created this year:
I choose 12 days so that my Insta feed will be fully filled with mermaids when looking at my feed. But no more than 12 because creating 31 mermaids is very overwhelming as I learned last year.
Feel free to use my prompts! But please give me credit when you do use it :)
Don’t forget to check out prompts from previous years. You can use them just as well!
The rule is that if you use a prompt list you include it in your post. So the first image is your illustration, and the second slide in your post is the prompt list.
Mermay prompt lists from previous years
This was last year’s official Mermay prompt list (2022). Feel free to use this one as it doesn’t matter which prompts you use if you want to enter the competition.
I made my very own prompts last year:
You can find my illustrations for this prompt list on my Instagram page.
How to participate in Mermay 2023
In order to participate in Mermay 2023 you’ll have to upload original artwork of a mermaid to Instagram or TikTok and use the hashtag #DrawMerMay2023.
Your Mermaids don’t have to be based on the official prompt list. You can create your own, or follow one that was created by someone else.
Follow this Pinterest Board which collects Mermay prompt lists from different artists. I’ll be collecting prompt lists throughout April.
If you want me to add your custom prompt list to this Pinterest Board just send me a message. And who knows your prompt list might be seen by over 110,000 people per month!
Mermay 2023 official rules
You can participate in MerMay without entering the contest. If you want to enter the MerMay contest, here’s what to do.
Overview of the rules to qualify in MerMay 2023 contest:
- Post artwork of a mermaid from May 1st to May 31st on either Instagram or TikTok
- You can work either digitally or traditionally
- All mediums are allowed
- Your artwork must be original and cannot be based on existing artwork
- Your artwork does not have to be based on the official prompt list
- You may use a different prompt list or get inspiration elsewhere
- You do not have to submit every single day in order to qualify
- But it helps in terms of visibility
- In each post you must use the following hashtag in the caption to qualify:
- You must be 18 years or older in order to qualify
- No AI-generated art is allowed
- You can also submit an animation video of 1 minute (or less) involving mermaids instead of illustrations
- Use the hashtag #AnimateMerMay2023 in your Instagram or TikTok captions
The contest ends at 10 PM on May 31st central time. For the official rules, you can visit their website: www.mermay.com/contest
Remember you don’t have to follow the rules to participate in Mermay :) Just note that if you don’t follow the rules you won’t have a chance to win one of the prizes.
I, like many others, only post on certain days. Simply because creating 31 mermaid illustrations is way too much to keep up with! But it’s just as fun.
These are the mermaids I created last year. I kept a small diary about MerMay 2021 which you can read about here. I planned on doing the full 31 days but turns out it was way too much work.
5 Mermay 2023 Tips
Drawing every day for 31 days is hard.. Even for professional illustrators. With this tutorial on how to draw mermaid tails and these tips you should be able to keep up:
1. Start now so you’ll have leverage during Mermay
A lot of prompts are out there already, so nothing is stopping you from starting now! Yes, you read that right. Start BEFORE May! You could make sketches or finish a couple of illustrations so that you have a buffer if life happens. In fact, a lot of people are actually doing this ;)
2. Keep your canvas small to avoid extra work
If you work traditionally, don’t start too big! Choose a small canvas. I like to go no bigger than A5 size. The bigger your canvas, the longer it takes before you finish your work. Remember, tomorrow you’ll have to do it again!
3. Keep your illustrations cohesive
Do you want to create a whole story or do you prefer independent illustrations? To keep everything cohesive, you might consider using a similar color palette.
Maybe you could reuse characters so it looks like they find themselves in different situations? Come up with something that ties it all together!
Last year I decided to have a set gradient for each of my Mermay pieces. When looking at my Instagram feed you can see that the illustrations gradually flow into one another.
If you would like a tutorial on how to do this let me know in the comments below!
4. Official MerMay tutorials
Check out the official website of Mermay to watch some mermaid tutorials by no other than Mermay creator Tom Bancroft! Mermay is also a good opportunity to get better at anatomy. I know I know, mermaids aren’t real, but their upper body sure is human! Not having to learn the anatomy of the entire body will make the learning process somewhat easier.
5. Use images of fish as reference pictures
Think about it: Mermaids are basically half-human half… fish. If you look up reference pictures of fish you see how their tails move in the water. Look for the following things:
- Tail movement
- Colors of the fish
- Pattern of the scales
- Placement and fluidity of the fins
Simply look for fish photography and get inspired!
Extra tip: Look for ”Betta fish photography” to really see the beauties!
6. Use hashtags to reach your peers
A great thing that comes with participating in Mermay is that with the use of hashtags, you can reach others who are also interested in art. I’ve made plenty of art friends during Mermay last year.
These are the hashtags I almost always include in my posts:
- #MermayDay*insert day*
- E.g. #MerMayDay4
- #*current day’s prompt*
- E.g. #Drought
I don’t only use these in my posts, I also browse these hashtags. It’s a great way to discover new artists!
Official MerMay Instagram account has been hacked
UPDATE: The new official MerMay account is @MerMayHQ
As of May 29 2023, Tom Bancroft announced that the official Instagram account of Mermay, @MerMayOfficial, has been hacked and deleted. This means that there is no central place to come together for MerMay.
Fortunately, Tom Bancroft’s personal account, @tombancroft1 is still up and running. Another art account by Tom called @pencilishstudios has also been hacked and deleted.
From what I can gather MerMay is still going on it’s just that the account has been hacked and deleted. You can tag the judges like @lb.illustrates in your captions instead of the official account.
We wish Tom Bancroft and his team good luck and we all hope he can get his accounts back.
It’s awful there are people out there that would do this.
MerMay drawings from previous years
Get ready for some *actual* amazing Mermay pieces from previous years.
Similar art challenges
If you enjoyed Mermay you might also like:
- Create artwork with ink throughout October
- 31 day Christmas lyric challenge
- Create artwork based on Christmas lyrics throughout December
Remember to have fun
This might sound cliche but the most important thing about Mermay is to have fun. Know that 31 days of drawing can be stressful. If you can’t do the entire 31 days, don’t worry about it. It’s not supposed to be a chore.
If you make an illustration that you really don’t want to do it will reflect in your work. But your art doesn’t have to be perfect!
Now that you know everything you need to know about Mermay 2023, I hope you’re just as excited as I am.
I wish you a lot of fun and success in your Mermay adventure. I hope to see your work when browsing the #Mermay2023 hashtag!