Looking Back on a Month of Art: An #Inktober Reflection

With the recent conclusion of October, we’ve reached a time for reflection on the season of spooky costumes, pumpkin spiced lattes, and art!

While many non-artists might not be familiar with the trend that is Inktober, this annual challenge has become quite the phenomenon in recent years. Inktober was created back in 2009, by an artist who refers to themselves as Mr. Jake Parker. Originally, Inktober was developed as a way for artists improve their ink skills, requiring that artists draw with just ink for 31 days in hopes to create a developed and unique drawing routine.

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Fast forward 9 years later and Inktober has developed into a worldwide artistic movement. This past October, I attempted this challenge myself. I had many reasons for wanting to pursue Inktober. The first was because I was going through a funk of just not being pleased with the art I was creating. The second was because I wanted to improve my inking skills, especially with markers. Finally, I had failed at Inktober in the past, not giving it the proper time and attention it needed, so this year I was determined to see it through.

The Beginning :

I was feeling good, I had this. I was following the Inktober prompt list created by another artist who I follow on Instagram using the hashtag #elentober2018. The original creator of the trend, Jake Parker, does post his own prompt lists for the public to follow, but I found this one better suited to my interests.  The first few days were a breeze— I was sitting down and experimenting with the different inks I had, using everything from markers to fine liners to ink wash. My confidence was up, but this was only the beginning.

As the first week came to an end, I began to realize how hard this was going to be. Motivation wasn’t something I could go out in buy if I ran out, but I forged ahead regardless. A majority of my work varied from simplistic to detailed, not staying consistent with what ink I was using. I chose my art supplies based on my time and what I was feeling that day.

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Midterms:

School can be cruel, and by the time Midterms rolled around, I found myself with little to no time to complete my sketches. My classes had me running around trying to complete assignments, so I really had to mange my time if in order to fit in any reasonable time to draw. I never planned what I was going to draw, which was a personal choice, and while that helped the creative process some, it also made completing certain pieces more difficult.

I began to stress over having to do it until finally, it hit me. That brief time I spent drawing was my breather form all the stress I had accumulated from  school. Once I came to that realization, Inktober became my escape from the pressure of being a student.

The End:

As the finish line came into view, I was both relieved and disappointed. I was disappointed that it was over, and I felt I had not put forth my best work, but that wasn’t the point. Inktober is about taking the time to learn a new skill and learn how to ink— and that’s exactly what I did! I watched my style develop over the month and challenged myself with inks and markers.

Overall, I was proud of my achievement. I had successfully completed Inktober even though my life had turned hectic with the appearance of Midterms. My drawings weren’t masterpieces like the art I had seen on social media, but that’s okay. I would say at least 75% of my art was bad in my eyes, but we’re all a bit self critical! I was able to take the time and explore a new medium and at some point, discovered a new art style which I’ve come to enjoy.

I think anyone interested in art or ink should try this challenge once it comes around again next year. Your work doesn’t have to be great, because at the end of the day, it’s just for you to enjoy. It will allow you to get better at time management, help you develop consistent drawing habits, and get you to become more comfortable in the medium of ink. So give it a try! There’s no pressure. And who knows, at the end of the month, you may just surprise yourself with the beautiful work you’ve created.

Maggie Christianson