#Inktober 2017 is here!
If you’ve never participated in Jake Parker’s 31 day drawing challenge, now’s the time to pick up your pen. I know it might sound intimidating to draw and post your work every day throughout October. I felt the same way when I first heard about Inktober back in 2013. I only did one doodle that year, yet that single sketch sparked something in me and encouraged me to keep practicing.
Now I’m getting pumped for my fourth year, and I look forward to the challenge every October. Inktober has taught me a lot, and I think you’ll find it just as rewarding as I do.
Still not convinced? Keep reading for eight compelling reasons why you should get involved in this annual social media celebration of inky illustration!
- Inktober gives you an excuse to focus on your drawing skills
There’s always room for improvement when it comes to your art. Maybe you feel as though your sketching is in a rut or you long to find time to explore new techniques. Inktober presents the perfect excuse to try something new and step outside your comfort zone. For example, I rarely draw realistic stuff or do any copy work. Inktober is a great time to throw these kinds of projects into the mix to refine skills in areas you’d otherwise ignore.
- Inktober fuels your creativity daily
Creativity is a process that can’t be rushed. Still, I firmly believe that creativity acts as a kind of muscle. You gotta flex it to keep your creativity in top shape. Sure there will be days when you feel totally absorbed in your sketching whereas other times you’ll have to force yourself to get into it. This is part of being a creative professional, pushing through the lull periods. Now I’m not saying you should never give yourself any down time. I’m just cautioning you not to give into the temptation to stop working every time you hit a rough patch. Hell, some of my best work has come from having the self discipline to keep drawing when I didn’t feel in the zone.
- You can follow the official prompt or make your own
I highly recommend planning your #inktober list in advance. This will be a big help when you’re tired or otherwise unmotivated to sketch. Last year I did #inktober without a list of subjects, and I while I enjoyed the spontaneity, it’s not the most productive way to approach the challenge unless you have lots of free time. Thankfully, Mr. Parker provides a list of #inktober prompts for you to follow. There are other such lists that often zero in on themes such as gore or Halloween monsters. I prefer to write my own lists and follow the official prompts on occasion.
- You’ll connect with other artists and see inspiring work
The #inktober community thrives on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and more. Following other artists is one of the highlights of Inktober for me personally. I’ve forged great friendships with other illustrators simply by following the hashtag on Instagram. Yes, you’ll find a fair share of assholes abusing the tag with unrelated spam and snobs too good to say thank you or follow other people. You’ll also discover amazing work by emerging artists from around the world you’d probably never see otherwise. You’ll love following their progress and learning from fellow artists without giant egos.
- Drawing every day will make you a better graphic designer
I’m firm in my belief that drawing practice improves your design work tenfold. Yes, many marketing gurus want to pass design off as a drag and drop software-does-it-for-you item to check off your to do list. And when you’re starting out, you might think you’re better off focusing on software than the design fundamentals drawing teaches you. The truth is that software is merely a tool you use to execute your vision, which comes from within. So instead of slaving over Adobe Illustrator tutorials, take a break and start sketching. Drawing helps you understand good layout, perspective, and composition faster than any Creative Cloud program. Besides, if you can’t draw on paper, your vector illustrations will pretty much suck.
- Inktober affords an opportunity to unplug and enjoy the analog experience
Don’t get me wrong, I love Illustrator for its mathematical perfection. At the same time, I think being able to hit ctrl + Z every time you make a mistake can be counterproductive. The emphasis on precision also makes you a little lazy in my experience; you have less of a need to concentrate on getting every stroke right when you know you can redo any errors in seconds. Conversely, you miss the analog fun of going with the flow and using mistakes as opportunities with digital art. Then there’s the fact that drawing on paper gives you a break from staring at your screen or worrying about battery life and internet connection speeds. Inkotber is all about the simplicity of creating with only paper and a pen.
- Inktober helps you learn to embrace mistakes and imperfections
I already touched on this in the point above, however, I think it deserves further explanation. You see Inktober taught me to go against the conventional wisdom of beginning your drawings in pencil and going over the finalized versions in ink. I much prefer to start in pen as Inktober encourages, and I believe this approach accelerated my progress. This quote from the great Ralph Steadman sums up the point of starting in ink nicely:
“People used to say, ‘Don’t you make a mistake?’ But there’s no such thing as a mistake, only an opportunity to do something else, change, adapt it as you go along. I’ve just been doing a drawing of Willie Nelson for someone, and I was showing it to someone and the ink was still wet, and it dribbled down the drawing. But it’s okay: I’ll pull it round somehow.
I don’t like the second guess. I like taking the bull by the horns and going with it. Straight in there. Things happen, accidents happen, interesting things happen when you start drawing straight away into the white surface.”
I say listen to Steadman and see where the ink takes you.
- The challenge provides the pressure you need to thrive
You’ll find a fair amount of research on the topic of pressure and creativity. Some find pressure motivating whereas others find it crippling. I think more creative professionals find deadlines motivating than not, although the pressure of facing harsh criticism is another story. I’m of the opinion that a little self-imposed pressure helps kick you into high gear. To succeed as an artist you have to be willing to evaluate your work objectively and look for ways to improve. The Inktober community keeps you accountable for sticking to your commitment and gives you a group of people who expect to see your work daily. What more motivation do you need to start drawing?
Here you go! The official 2017 #Inktober prompt list. Pass this along or tag a friend who's doing this with you. – #inktober2017 #inktober #inking #drawing #ink #drawingchallenge #sketchbook #illustration #jakeparker #artistsoninstagram #artists #artnews #drawers #brushpen #micronpen #copic #penandink #kuretakezig #pigmamicron #micron @jakeparker
I hope this list inspires you to take up the Inktober challenge. If you’re participating in #inktober, leave your Instagram handle in the comments so I can follow your journey. Stay sketching!