I’ve been looking forward to Inktober 2020 ever since I completed my last Inktober 2019 drawing. For weeks now I’ve been thinking about different ideas, different concepts, different themes, and Cheeky Monkey Mind has been jabbering in my ear about trying this and trying that, and between the two of us, we have yet to come up with a truly do-able idea.
I took out my ink pens, bought alcohol ink, practiced ink-drawing exercises and shared them here on the blog. I tapped my foot impatiently as I waited for the release of this year’s official prompt list. I was ready, I was set, but unfortunately I wasn’t ready to go. There was still that dreadful problem about what I should draw.
Alcohol inks sound fun! But all I can really do with them is make colorful backgrounds. Zen doodling with colorful inks sounds fun, too. But do I really want to spend an entire month making mostly meaningless doodles?
Draw birds. That was Cheeky’s first suggestion. Later, he decided that we should simply reprise last year’s successful Inktober run and draw trees again. The idea had some appeal. It might be interesting to see if or how I’ve improved. On the other hand, it could be discouraging to feel I haven’t improved at all, or that — horrors — maybe I’ve gotten worse!
Matt Fussell has come up with a 31-Day Ink Drawing Course at The Virtual Instructor. It does require membership, but even if you’re not a member, I highly recommend checking out the site and taking full advantage of all the freebies Matt has to offer. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today had I not discovered The Virtual Instructor soon after I began learning to draw.
Back to Inktober. Matt’s new 31-Day Ink Drawing Course covers a variety of ink techniques, and includes lessons on drawing objects, flowers, landscapes, food, animals, and people, not necessarily in that order. I’m tempted to enroll — I am a member — and it might be a good way to keep up with Inktober this year. I wouldn’t be using the official prompt list, but that’s fine.
For me, I think the big stumbling block right now, however, is the whole idea of keeping up. Last year during Inktober — and also in 2018 — I essentially set all other artwork aside for the month and focused solely on ink drawing. I don’t want to do that right now. I really don’t think it would be practical.
I’m learning mixed media. I’m slowly but surely building an online art business. I’m doing an art journal. I’m working with a lot of different ideas, different techniques, and different media. Quite simply, I don’t want to put all else in my art life on hold while I doodle and draw with ink.
Although I’m reluctant to say, “I’m not doing Inktober 2020,” I’m beginning to think that would be my best choice. I haven’t done well with challenges since we’ve moved, and I’ve expanded my art into a full studio! It sounds crazy, maybe, but having a studio gives me so much more opportunity to work on so many different things that trying to fit in Inktober drawings would feel like an imposition on my art time.
Plain and simple, I don’t think I really want to do Inktober this year.
Remember the 100-Day Art Project I took on in May? It took me much longer than 100 days to work my way through the project. Remember the 30 x 30 Direct Watercolor Challenge I began in June? I made it about half-way. How about World Watercolor Month in July? I completed… what? Ten watercolors?
The point is, right now I’m obviously not at a point where I can fully accept and complete any art challenge, and taking one on without any real plan would almost certainly guarantee failure. Even so, I’m still reluctant to say those words:
I’m not doing Inktober 2020.
Just saying them, or writing them here in this blog makes me feel like a quitter. I feel like I’m giving up on something before I’ve even begun!
But I’m not alone with my ambivalent feelings about Inktober. I did a quick Google search and found other artists with similar thoughts.
And then there’s the whole “Inktober controversy” that’s come up. Or maybe it’s the “Inktober scandal”. Actually, it’s both — two different problems that have cast a dark shadow on the entire Inktober event.
First, the controversy. Creator Jake Parker became upset with artists who were taking his creation — the Inktober concept — and profiting by it. He determined that the best course of action would be to trademark the Inktober brand. Here, in his own words, is Jake Parker’s story — in part. You can read his complete statement here.
Inktober is and will always be free to participate in. The hashtag is free to use (as are all hashtags). Every artist is free to sell the drawings they made during Inktober if they want to. Contrary to misstatements recently made on social media, I am not trying to stop any artist from profiting from their own artwork, and I am certainly not trying to steal your work, nor receive back payments from work that has been sold.
Since 2009, Inktober has grown into a world-wide event with hundreds of thousands of people participating each year and millions of drawings being posted online during the month of October. Every year Inktober takes more and more of my time, resources, and attention to lead the challenge and engage with the community.
However, as the Inktober challenge got bigger and bigger with each passing year, it started being invaded by individuals outside of the community trying to make a quick buck. These people are not artists like you and me, and have profited off the popularity of the challenge, with no concern for the Inktober community.
I could have let these bad actors win, eventually taking over Inktober and diluting its purpose, or I could have chosen to fight back. I have chosen to fight back using my intellectual property rights, which is why I registered the trademark that I have been using since 2009.
As artists, we are all in this together. I want all artists everywhere to have success with their work. And every artist has a right to protect the things they have worked hard to create.
I will keep using the Inktober platform to inspire artists to draw and create, to spotlight artists who are doing amazing work, and to teach people to get better at drawing.
— JAKE PARKER —
But then came the Inktober scandal in which Jake Parker himself was accused of copyright infringement.
Jake Parker, creator of the popular online art challenge Inktober, has been accused of plagiarizing large sections of his upcoming drawing tutorial workbook “Inktober All Year Long” from artist Alphonso Dunn.
“Inktober All Year Long” was scheduled for release on Sept. 15, but in the wake of this controversy, its publisher Chronicle Books has withheld its release until further notice.
There are many different links sharing this tale of woe around the world, such as this one from London:
I would be untruthful if I said this controversy and scandal hasn’t affected my thoughts about Inktober. Where I once saw it as an exciting challenge that could help me improve my ink-drawing skills, I’m seeing it now as simply a bad situation where people have been exploited. I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong, and I’m not following the story closely.
Truth be told, I don’t want to hear anything more about Inktober. At least not this year. So, I’m going to come right out and say it:
I’m not doing Inktober 2020.
For those who choose to participate, I wish you well. Inktober can be challenging. It can also be fun and deeply satisfying to an artist. I know that for this year at least, I wouldn’t find it fun. I don’t think I would find any artistic satisfaction, no matter how hard I might try. And that’s where the real crux of the matter is. To participate in Inktober 2020 would require significant effort on my part — artistic effort, emotional effort, an investment of time — that right not I’m not willing to make.
So, Cheeky Monkey Mind and I are sitting this one out. Good luck to those who take part in Inktober 2020.