Inktober was started in 2009 by Jake Parker, an illustrator and cartoonist, as a way to motivate himself to improve his ‘inking skills’.
While for most people, October is all about pumpkin spice lattes, creepy decorations, interesting costumes and everything Halloween, for most artists and doodlers around the world, it is the time when they finally clear up their schedules to let their creativity and imagination flow free.
You might be wondering, why does this happen though? Well, the answer lies in the hashtag attached with most of these artworks – ‘Inktober’. What started ten years ago as a simple challenge to oneself has now turned into a global phenomenon on the Internet. Inktober was started in 2009 by Jake Parker, an illustrator and cartoonist, as a way to motivate himself and few artists he knew to improve their ‘inking skills’ by putting up a fixed list of 31 prompts – each for every day of the month. Visual artists on the Internet have been taking this unique tradition forward now by putting up artworks inspired by the list of prompts uploaded by the official account of Inktober. “I found out about this trend through Instagram about five years ago. A bunch of artists I had been following for a while, were doing it. And since I’ve always enjoyed working in ink, I thought I’d give it a go,” says Raya Sarkar, an illustration student pursuing a Masters degree in Fine Arts.
With almost 2,000 followers on Instagram, Raya started her Inktober journey by making one art piece every day. But, creating art regularly is not an easy process. “I had a death in the family around the time I was participating in Inktober the first time. It becomes really hard to draw on days like that. Since then, I aim at creating one every alternate day,” shares Raya whose Instagram art account goes by the name of ‘rabbitbucket’ and is a delightful mix of pastel shaded animations and animal illustrations. Speaking about how she manages the time to balance her academics and this, she says, “This year I am producing lesser number of artworks as I am working on my thesis. But, sometimes it acts as a good break between all the research and writing. For her creating good content is more important than creating content regularly.
For media student Dharshanya V Ramanan though, Inktober is all about using the prompts to stimulate her imagination. “To me, Inktober stands for the month of creativity, with a pre-made list of prompts, which helps me draw everyday, even when I don’t have any ideas or inspirations,” says Dharshanya who posts her art on her Instagram account ‘colors.culture’. The young illustrator also speaks about how there are debates regarding digital art being counted as Inktober contributions. “But this year I want to diversify the art I do. So, I am planning on doing paper-ink drawings, digital paintings and also maybe explore other mediums like makeup and clay modeling,” explains Dharshanya.
While for some illustrators like Yogyata Arun Joshi, prompts are like “borrowed thoughts.” She explains, “I find the concept very binding and can’t make art every day like this. So, I don’t follow Inktober.”