Every October, artists around the world participate in Inktober, an annual drawing challenge that entails creating an amazing ink artwork every day of the month.
This year, I decided not to let the fact that I’m not an artist and am downright incapable of creating amazing ink artworks get in the way of participating in this challenge. Because what’s the worst that could happen? I would forever traumatize someone with my awful drawings? That’s a chance I was willing to take. You know, for art.
I’ve always loved to draw but have simply never had the time or energy to actually take on a proper art project. My life is busy, what with my daily routine of writing, taking care of my cats, eating, taking care of my cats, napping, taking care of my cats. My point is, them cats be high maintenance.
My other point is, I ain’t got no time to make awesome masterpieces.
So I decided a less fancy approach to Inktober - Inktober Lite, if you will - might be the way to go. Simple, quick drawings; no rules; all just for fun. It sounded good.
Except there was no chance I was actually going to make it past day two and a half on my own. Maybe it would be more interesting if I asked a friend to join me? So I messaged the lovely Anny - who is annoyingly good at arts and crafts - to see if she’d like to give Inktober Lite a go as well.
“Wanna?” I asked.
“Sure,” she replied.
“Woohoo!” I said.
Maybe not in those exact words, but you get the gist.
And so we set off on our month long journey. 31 days, 31 prompts, 31 drawings.
This was going to be fun. Probably.
We began with the kind of enthusiasm that is only brought on by the start of new projects.
We had decided that we were going to make simple pictures that didn’t take more than a few minutes to draw, and not focus on insignificant things like accuracy and precision and whether it looked like our designs had been drawn by human adults.
Skilled artists were using this exercise to create beautiful, intricate pieces that they could possibly even sell or use as a way to drum up commissions. We, on the other hand, were going to call it a win if we came up with a vague approximation of whatever it was that we were aiming to draw.
With that lofty goal in mind, we began our Inktober adventure.
Anny chose to make a two page spread in her bullet journal, filling up the month’s calendar, one day at a time, with her drawings.
I found some loose sheets of papers and a couple of pens, and sat down to draw. And the second I picked up a pen, my cat Jolly decided to join my art endeavours by plonking herself right on top of the paper. Over the course of the month, it would become fairly obvious that no matter where she is, Jolly can almost invariably sense when I’m holding a pen and then feels like it is her duty to immediately make her way to my workspace and demand cuddles.
With Jolly by my side, I breezed through the first week of Inktobering. Me drawing, Jolly smudging what I drew, me trying to fix what Jolly had smudged, Jolly smudging my attempts at fixing her smudges. Such fun.
The prompts may have seemed a little weird at first but they provided plenty of opportunity for creativity. And if I had more than one ideas for a prompt? No problem; I would draw both!
Things were going great. Forget a month; I could do this all year long!
By week two, the novelty of the mission was starting to wear off, but we were still very committed to our daily doodles. But also, I was trying my best to pick simpler and simpler ideas. My drawing for “frail” is basically a single line. I wanted to draw Mushu for “dragon” but knew how long that would take so didn’t even bother to try making my favourite Mulan character.
There were no attempts at making multiple drawings for the same prompt.
Sometimes I would just do a pencil sketch and leaving the inking for the next day.
Also, I seemed to have caught a cold. I, shockingly, do not enjoy having a cold. I, even more shockingly, do not enjoy doing anything when I have a cold; just convincing myself to keep existing feels like an accomplishment.
Ok, so maybe doing a whole year of this wouldn’t have been as exciting as it had seemed at the beginning, but I could surely do this for a month, right? RIGHT?!
By week three, I was becoming acutely aware of just how long a month is. My cold had turned into an annoying sore throat and my body seemed to be trying really, really hard to cough my lungs out. As a result, all attempts at drawing lines and circles were going very awry. Each piece was accompanied by a torrent of curses directed towards scientists who still haven’t managed to discover a cure for the common cold. Not cool, you guys. Not cool at all.
But I persevered, and finished all my drawings on time. Anny and I both did. Because we are awesome (as I’m sure you’ve already figured).
Increasingly shocked by the fact that neither of us had given up, we made it to week four, so close to the finish line and determined to make it to the end.
Jolly, however, had other plans. Towards the end of the week, Jolly went missing. I even took out all my art supplies, because surely that was going to bring her back home, but - hard as this may be to believe - even that didn’t work. The next few days were spent searching for her; more on that at a later date, but suffice it to say, no drawings were made in the last three days of the month.
In solidarity, Anny too paused her project. We eventually resumed and completed it at the start of November. It felt great to finish the project and then look back at this fun activity we had done together.
* Inktober is an annual art challenge that takes place every October.
* The challenge was created by American artist Jake Parker in 2009.
* The objective is to create a new drawing - preferably in black and white, using real ink - every day.
* The aim is to improve your drawing skills.
* An official prompt list is issued every year, specifying a different drawing prompt for each day of Inktober.
* Participants are encouraged to share their drawings and post photos of their artworks on their social media accounts with the #Inktober hashtag.
We are very proud of - and more than a little surprised by - the fact that we made it all the way through. And we have even blessed the Internet with our awe-inspiring artwork (which is something we initially did not set out to do), so ... you’re welcome, world.
Commissions are now open, obviously.
* Consider keeping it simple: If you’re an amazing artist who can make stunning drawings, then you are awesome and more power to you. But if you don’t fall in that category and feel a little intimidated by something like Inktober, then you might want to go with our Inktober Lite idea and keep things simple. You can still have a lot of fun making quick pieces and learn a thing or two about drawing along the way.
* Get a good pen: Using a shoddy pen is not the best idea. It will make your drawing process harder and you will probably also end up with smudges. If you’re properly invested in this challenge, then you might want to purchase Copic, Pentel, and/or Tombow pens. If you want something less pricy, then Sakura Pigma Micron pens are also a popular choice. If you’d rather go with something less fancy, then a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner will work just fine.
Getting some nice drawing paper, while you’re at it, will make your Inktober experience even smoother.
* Make sure your indoor cat stays indoors: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.
* Rework the mistakes: Mistakes happen. Embrace them. Try to incorporate them into your illustration. If that isn’t possible, then cover them up. Gently shade the area with a white Prismacolor Premier or Faber Castell Polychromos colour pencil. Cover up more prominent errors with correction tape. Resist the urge to start over because of small imperfections; explore different ideas instead.
* Seriously, keep that darn cat inside!
* Try a theme: Want to make things more interesting? Pick a theme. Choose a style or category or topic, and use that to guide your daily drawings. For instance, Anny embraced her inner geek and focused on her favourite movies and things; this made her choices even more creative.
Another idea is to combine prompts. Husky, enchanted, frail, swing? How about coming up with an enchanted husky or a frail swing?
* Share the experience with friends: Doing Inktober with a friend made it twice as rewarding for me. Ask your friends if they’d like to join you. See if you want to post on Instagram (or a social platform of your preference) and take a look at what other artists are creating; seek inspiration and inspire others.
If you do post your drawings on social media, most people will be encouraging, but at times someone might make negative comments. Don’t let that discourage you. Ignore the negativity and keep going.
* And don’t forget to have fun!