The very worthwhile stress of InkTober

by Max Vos

As we reach the two-thirds mark of the month, amateur and professional artists and illustrators all around the world are starting to feel the pressure. No, it’s not because they are facing the united, unending strain of fighting for recognition and fair publishing – this month, we brought it upon ourselves.


This month, artists all around the world are participating in “InkTober“, a global endeavour to produce one fully-inked drawing every day, for each day of the month of October – 31 drawings, 31 days. The challenge was created by Jake Parker in 2009 as a way to “improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits”. Depending on how intense you want to make your practicing schedule, you can decide to ink daily, once every other day, or weekly – as long as you draw and share the images online with the tags #inktober and #inktober2016, you’re participating in something rad.

Following the official prompt list (on the left) isn’t the only way to participate though. Many artists have created their own, original prompt lists. InkJournal has shared a zany prompt list, and Dory Whynot has shared a very occult/halloween-themed schedule. Other artists are completing similar challenges under the #drawlloween tag, where they participate by theming their work with halloween-inspired prompts. The #31witches prompt list by @ochibrochi is a particular favourite, and some artists are even combining the prompt lists (like steendraws on tumblr who’s combined #31witches with the official prompts in beautiful inked pieces). Other artists are using the challenge to draw attention to very significant issues and causes, such as Shawn Coss who is posting depictions of mental illnesses in dark, intriguing sketches.

Social Anxiety Disorder - day 9 of #inktober illnesses.
“Social Anxiety Disorder – day 9 of #inktober illnesses” – Shawn Coss

It’s well-understood that practice makes perfect. While the myth of 10,000 hours of work making anybody a master has been debunked, it’s hardly harmful to work hard and discipline yourself into focussing on your art. It’s shown multiple times over that producing a high quantity of art is far more beneficial to the development of any artist’s skills than producing a handful of quality works.

So what are the highlights of InkTober so far? Parker has shared many of his favourites on the official InkTober Instagram page (from 2016 and earlier). This piece by steendraws is a personal favourite, and Heikala has shared multiple adorable halloween-themed pieces. Andrew Mar has also shared this evocative, detailed piece of an impaled beast, and @kkamabr shared this much simpler but equally moving artwork. You can also follow the trends on twitter. It all goes to show the diversity between every artist themselves – it’s definitely worth spending hours upon hours of browsing time on.

Probably the hardest part about InkTober is when you have to balance the challenge with other parts and dedications of your life – study, work, family, friends, sleep – it’s very difficult to produce work daily that you feel is good and purposeful. Now the goal to overcome is not drawing every day, but wanting to. The point of InkTober is to just produce, whether you feel your work is well-done or not. For the artists who are struggling, Parker has shared a nugget of motivation: “Just keep going!” he posts on Instagram – “Around day 13 people get frustrated and want to quit #inktober because they’re A) out of ideas, B) missed to many days, C) just tired … Just keep going! Do a smaller drawing, do a bad drawing, do any drawing. A mediocre drawing is better than no drawing. YOU CAN DO IT”!

So far, the #inktober2016 tag has gained over 1 million hits on Instagram, and reached over 500,000 on twitter.

Image: mrjakeparker.com

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