What is Inktober and Why Should You Participate?

Monthly creation challenges such as Inktober and NaNoWriMo have become a larger phenomenon as the internet allows a wide community to reach each other. Inktober is a monthly drawing challenge that was created by artist Jake Parker in 2009 to “improve [his] inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.” When October rolls around every year, Parker reveals an official list of daily prompts to work from. While this started off as a personal challenge for growth, it was quickly taken off within the artistic community. 

Image via Inktober

The rules themselves are quite simple. For each day of the month the artist comes up with an idea based on or inspired by the daily prompt, creates a piece of artwork in ink, and shares it with others using #inktober. Even within these simple rules, artists are allowed to work fast and loose. Some artists utilize traditional inks to create elaborate and fully shaded drawings. But other artists will utilize color or digital tools or even completely different prompts. By this point, Inktober has grown to such an extent that a quick search can reveal hundreds of prompt lists, some even based around a specific theme. The interpretation and application is completely up to the individual artist.

Image via IcarusMask

The entire point of the event is to facilitate learning and develop good creative habits. As such, for best results the artist should theoretically start each day anew with the prompt and create the entire piece within that day. This frequent practice, regardless of the result, will eventually better the artist’s skills as they gain more and more experience. It also provides a time to explore and mess with new techniques that the artist may not have worked with before. Hopefully, by the end of the month, the artist will have begun to form the habit of creating daily and will continue to form that habit even outside of the monthly challenge.

Image via IcarusMask

Of course, this is a competition for fun, not a contest, as Parker repeatedly points out. As such, the artist can feel free to create at their own pace. Not every piece has to be a masterpiece. Doodles are just as good. Additionally, this is supposed to be a personal, growing experience. Sharing the artwork with a community is supposed to allow artists to inspire and motivate each other. It is not to pit artwork against each other. 

You can fulfill all the prompts or just one. You can work one day at a time or at your own pace. No matter what, in the end there will be a new creation that didn’t exist before. Even if you don’t think that you’ll ever actually participate in the event, it can be fun to check out what others have created. You never know if you might just get inspired to pick up a pen this October.