What is Inktober and How Do I Get Ready for It?

 Inktober. A combination of the words Ink and October.
It occurs when you ask? THE MONTH OF OCTOBER, I shout.

Inktober started as a internet-wide tradition in the eary 2010’s, originating in 2009 by an illustrator named Jake Parker (link to website: here). The concept is very simple, and promotes the ideology that sketching isn’t just a talent, it’s a commitment. To be exact: 31 days, 31 drawings. You make a drawing in ink, and post it online to any social media community you would like. The official rules can be seen below (posted via twitter by @Inktober link here).


Now there are often many questions and anxieties that naturally come with this kind of challenge. What will I make? How will I find the time? What is acceptable? Can I just draw cats? Can I just make cat memes? Do I have to draw it with ink or can I do a pencil/watercolor/digital drawing? And I’m here to let you know that it’s going to be okay, and that Inktober is really more about expressionism and self exploration than anything else (P.S. plz @ me in all your cat memes).
As far as what you will make, that is completely up to you, however there is an official prompt list posted every year to help you out over the 31 days (2017 prompt list seen right posted by @Inktober link: here). Some people enjoy using this list explicitly in their work and some like to use a more abstract version of the word provided: the point is to make it your own. Finding the time to make all of these drawings can be tricky, but the point isn’t to make them the best pieces of art you’ve ever created – it’s so you can have the experience of creating something simply for yourself. Any subject form is acceptable, although if it is NSFW (Not Safe For Work) I would market it as such on public forums as there is no age restriction on who can participate or view Inktober drawings.

Now specifically the point of this series isn’t to make it so restrictive on yourself that you feel uncomfortable, but there are a couple unofficial rules that artists abide by in good faith. Most people create hand-drawn sketches of their subjects in black ink. This means that in the spirit of the event you shouldn’t rely on being able to move your piece around to get better lighting and contrast, or “cntrl+z-ing” your work. However don’t fear – many doodlers do find it alright if you want to briefly sketch out the size and dimensions in light pencil before going in with pen or ink. Many also use shader ink pens to add dimension, and some also use watercolor paint or markers to add color. BUT Remember that this is a time of self-reflection and understanding of your work and yourself, so if you want to throw the prompt out the window and create pixel, macaroni, or lego art in multi-color, go for it!

If this challenge does in fact seem too broad, there are some tips many sketchers use to help narrow down their field of view. A good way to prepare for Inktober is to try and research different techniques or subjects that you may want to implement over the course of the month. Many stick to one subject such as a specific character they want to develop or topic that is close to their heart. Many give time limits on the sketch such as an hour or two. Many set a specific dimension for the sketch such as a 3 by 5 notecard.  The point is, whatever establishes the best medium for your creative flow is the way to go!

Here are some examples from last year 2016

Ezequiel Vera (@ezequielvera) focused his subject to birds of Argentina and limited his dimensions of the width and/or height to two pages within his moleskin book (link to pictures here)


Amany. (@amanyaboita) took inspiration from the movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s and the animated short Paperman, along with adding subtle pops of color to add some points of interest (link to pictures here)


Katrina Klark (@katrina_jclark) decided to expand upon the sketches she created last year and turned her original inked art into colorful digital art (link to picture here)


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