What About Inktober?

This is the time of year when artists around the world start thinking about picking up their pens and taking part in the annual “Inktober” drawing challenge. It takes place in October, and the objective is to improve your drawing by making an ink drawing each day of the month. That’s a total of 31 drawings, which can be a hefty goal if you’re doing highly detailed ink drawings.

The official prompt list for 2021 has been published, and for those who are thinking of following along with the challenge, here are the suggested prompts:

I love prompt lists like this, and it’s always fun to see how different artists in the community turn these words into drawing ideas. Of course, using this, or any, prompt list is optional. Participating artists are free to choose their own subjects each day.

My track record with Inktober has been a bit checkered. In 2015, when I began learning to draw, I knew nothing of Inktober. In 2016, I was aware of it, but I knew I wasn’t ready to take part. Working with pen and ink was a frightening thought at the time. In 2017, I made a stab at it, and I did complete a few drawings. I didn’t make it through the whole month. In fact, I probably didn’t last more than a week.

In 2018, I completed Inktober for the first time. My drawings were a bit comical — a lot of odd-looking “monsters” and weirdly-drawn “characters” who began telling a story. I had fun with the highly dysfunctional family I created, but I did find their story to be almost emotionally overwhelming.

So, when 2019 came around, I prepared ahead of time, choosing to use prompts in a creative way to search various species of trees. For 31 days, I drew different trees, including fruits, flowers, bark, and even a friendly squirrel. I actually completed 33 drawings. I learned a lot, and it was one of the most enjoyable drawing challenges I’ve ever done.

Last year, however, I decided not to participate in Inktober. It was a difficult decision for me in many ways. I felt I’d be “missing out” on something I might enjoy, but for various reasons, I chose to skip the challenge.

Now, it’s 2021, so what about Inktober this year? I’ve had several friends asking me about it, and I’ve given it a lot of thought. It might be fun to do Inktober with some of my new ink-related art supplies — acrylic inks, shadow color inks. It’s tempting, yes. I have, however, decided to sit this one out. One of my art goals presently isΒ slowing down, keeping things as simple as I can, and focusing my art time on three specific areas: graphite drawing, oil painting, and watercolor.

I do enjoy pen and ink drawing, and the 2021 prompt list has a lot of interesting words. Yes, it would be fun to put something together, to come up with a theme or narrative of sorts, but it would also be time-consuming, and for me, it would be a bit distracting right now. I don’t want to feel pressured to complete an ink drawing every day. I don’t want to rack my brain to come up with ideas. I don’t want to push myself to keep up with a challenge.

I will still enjoy visiting other blogs and seeing what artists in our online community are doing. Inktober can be a very creative challenge. It’s one that I’ll be involved with only as a spectator this year. That’s what I feel is best for me.

Are you going to take part in the challenge? You can find all the information here at the official Inktober site. If you are going to participate, please let me know. I’ll share a list of art bloggers who are doing Inktober, so make sure I have the link to your blog. I will be putting the list together throughout September, and at the end of the month I will publish it here.

To those who do accept the challenge, have fun with it! I can’t wait to see the creative results you come up.

14 Comments

  1. A few years ago, I did the sketchaday app for 300 days, in many different art media. But it became a chore. I tried #inktober several times but abandoned it early. Right now, I am in 4 online groups with monthly challenges and still have limited art time so #inktober is a no this year. My main foci will be watercolor, gouache and basic drawing skills.

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    1. Your plans sound a lot like mine, only I’m also adding in oil painting. Challenges can be great — if they’re the right challenge at the right time. I’ve learned, though, that it’s not good to jump in and do every challenge just because it’s there. I’ve enjoyed Inktober in the years I’ve completed it. I was able to focus on it and make it my priority each day. That’s not where I am now, though, so it would be a distraction, and as you’ve said, “a chore.” I don’t need that in my art life.

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  2. INKTOBER!! Gaaah!! It sounded so cool at first! And it wasn’t a big thing at first. People had fun! I did it for 2weeks that first year – with a 150-year-old dip pen! – but finally had to admit to myself that I don’t know how to use a dip pen and what I was doing & sharing was awful. The stain I made on the sofa when I knocked over the ink bottle was better than what I drew! So, I’ve tried it. Several times. Lovely idea! But now it’s a “big thing” & the images I see posted on social media under the Inktober hashtags are slick, sleek, fantastic, pro work. If I had fewer other things to do, I might do it this year, just for me. But life is crowded with commitments and obligations, and ink has to wait. Maybe. LOL – I may try it again but probably won’t do the entire month. Thank you for posting about it! Good reminder — and CONGRATULATIONS for finishing in 2018 & 2019! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

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    1. Your thoughts echo mine. When it started, it was a fun, friendly thing, it seem. (I wasn’t involved the first few years.) But then, over time, it grew, it became a big business, and there’s a lot of controversy surrounding it now. It’s not as much fun. Like you, I might enjoy doing Inktober on my own “just for fun”, but I’m focusing on other things this year. I love seeing what other artists do, but I don’t want to get caught up in it this year.

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  3. I used the prompts last year, but I did not use pen and ink. I used pencils, markers, and watercolor. I just enjoyed the challenge of drawing something every day. Whatever you choose to do, make it an enjoyable experience.

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    1. I know people use the prompt lists in many different ways. Some people even use them as writing prompts for stories or poems. Anything that jogs our creative spirit can be good. Even though I’m sitting Inktober out this year, I’m still making use of the prompt words in my own crazy way. I’m using them as part of a serendipitous online research project — and I know I’m going to learn a lot of very interesting things!

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    1. It’s great that you’ve found a way to manage two creative challenges. I’ll post a link to your blog later this month so readers can visit and see both your artwork and your poetry. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. I’ve done Inktober in the past and discovered that doing something every day is a bit hard on me. However, I’m tempted to to use Inktober to get some drawing practice in. I sketch with a ballpoint (I don’t like how pencil smears), so I could do my live-drawing practice (sketching birds and animals from videos) as a project for Inktober. Sometimes the pressure of a challenge is a good thing and sometimes it isn’t. I’d like to be practicing more and this is one way I could do it.

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    1. I’ll add your blog to my list. Challenges can be great as “kickstarters” at times… or, at other times, they can become burdensome. I’ve learned that it’s all right to set a challenge aside if it’s making me uncomfortable. πŸ™‚ I hope all goes well for you and that Inktober gives you just what you need.

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  5. this is gonna be my 3rd year of inktober, which makes my sense of time crumble and shake around me thinking about it, but cool. I’m proud of myself in a way for being able to stick to it, but i absolutely get other people wanting to sit out, last year when I was done I felt like my soul didn’t return to my body till january. which might have been made worse by the fact i did a 10 page comic as part of the 31 days, which i didn’t perfectly plan out which then resulted in me doing two comic pages, in two days, before the deadline (the 29th + the 30th). but now I’m rambling about last year’s news- I look forward to sharing this year’s on my blog, I’m not sure what to really do as I’ve never followed the prompt list, but I normally come up with it on the spot each day anyways haha.

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    1. Oh, I can so relate to what you said about your soul not returning to your body for a while. That’s how I felt in 2018 when Inktober turned (unintentionally) into a story of a very dysfunctional family. My drawing were simple and cartoonish, but they sure stirred up a lot of emotions. That’s one reason why I planned my Inktober 2019 drawings well in advance. It kept me sane throughout the month. I’d like to do Inktober, but right now it would be a bit of a distraction for me from other art projects, but I am really going to enjoy seeing what you and other artists do. Whether you use the prompt list or not — it makes no difference. I will add your blog to my list, and I’m looking forward to seeing your Inktober art.

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