Photo by Violet Wang

Brooke O'Flaherty and Taylor Girard

Artists, recreational and professional alike, struggle to schedule the time to focus and improve their work. Every October, however, they prepare their pens and pads of paper for the month ahead. For the following month, they will be challenging themselves to ink a drawing every day to improve their skill level and work ethic.

Inktober is an annual tradition started by the comic creator, concept artist, illustrator, and animator Jake Parker in 2009; it began as artists brainstorming ideas and drawing something every day of October. In 2016, Parker spread the tradition online, as he began making lists of prompts for each day of the month, providing artists with one-word ideas to work off of such as “cat” and “bench.”

Freshman Evelyn Zacks, who has been an artist as long as she can remember, comments on how Inktober aids her in her work.

It’s great because [the prompts] give you inspiration on what to do. October is already a spooky season and it’s great to have creativity because when you have an idea of what to draw, it helps you draw something.When I see the prompts all over social media it makes me want to draw more, just seeing other people drawing [as well as] what they create” said Zacks.

The purpose of Inktober is to serve as a challenge to artists so that they improve their digital and traditional inking skills while developing regular drawing habits. For this challenge, artists are restricted to one color, typically in ink, but also in watercolor, marker, or digital mediums, and must create on a regular schedule. Art is not exclusionary in the tradition, so drawing, calligraphy, typography, and all other art form using “ink” counts as participation. Though many try for, as Parker puts it, the “full marathon” of a drawing a day, the purpose is to reinforce regular drawing habits and share ones works, so artists may participate in the “half-marathon route” of posting a drawing every other day, “the 5k” of posting a drawing once a week, or any other regular integral they set for themselves. The value of Inktober is not for abundance, but instead consistency.


Photo by Brooke O’Flaherty

Further, the rules are meant to build the spirit of Inktober, so the official prompt list does not need to be strictly followed; artists may use the prompts in any order, follow others’ lists, or even make their own prompt sheets. Still, most artists follow Parker’s list in chronological order so online art communities can compare what each prompt elicited from each artist.

Inktober is not only for experienced artists: anyone of any skill level may join in the effort to improve. On the official website under the “How to Ink” tab, Parker offers links to inking lessons and resources for varying skill levels, while under the “Tools” tab, recommended inking pens, inking brushes, dipping inks, “white stuff” for detail work, travel bags, and other essential art supplies from partnering companies, like Blick Art Materials and Artsnacks, are listed. They also have merch people can buy to show off their love for Inktober with shirts, pins, and phone cases.

It’s great because [the prompts] give you inspiration on what to do. October is already a spooky season and it’s great to have creativity because when you have an idea of what to draw, it helps you draw something.

The Inktober official website also gives artist information on annual Inktober events taking place in early to mid October that help artists connect with each other and improve their skills in person. The events scheduled for 2019 included an inking tutorial, an Inktober Party, and an Inktober Exhibition by Jake Parker which take place in multiple cities throughout the United States, from Scottsdale to Los Angeles to New York City. 

People can buy tickets to the Inktober party, which provides a place for artists to connect with each other on a more personal level than a standard social media post. Other events like Jake Parker’s booth at NYC Comic Con and the Jake Parker Exhibition in Los Angeles give artists the chance to meet, obtain an autograph from, and view the art of the man behind Inktober. Artists who really want to get into the Inktober spirit and improve their artistic skills can even go to an inking tutorial hosted by Jake Parker himself. 

If unable to attend any of the events, artists can still interact with other artists through #inktober and #inktober2019. Even if artists do not use social media, the official website encourages artists to continue sharing their art with friends and families, or even ask permission to get art posted on a school bulletin board. The website says that part of the purpose of Inktober is not only to create something, but to also share it with others. 

Even though it is in the spirit of Inktober to practice consistency, it can be hard to stay on track. Senior Grace Cossen shares her experience with the event.

“I have tried [for three] other years, but have only done a couple days and then stop. It’s fun and it really pushes you out of your comfort zone because you have a set of things to [draw] each day for a month. [Overall,] it really pushes you, and it’s just fun to try to draw daily,” said Cossen.

Other students, such as freshman Cynthia Lin, are facing the challenge of Inktober for the first time. Lin comments on how this year she is breaking from her area of familiarity to participate.

“This is actually my first year because I usually don’t do ink drawings So far, it’s only been like four days, but it has helped, and I’m sure it does [help] because [it is] just continuous drawing and drawing and drawing. [Also,] I like just seeing everybody’s art. [It’s interesting] how many different things you come up with off of one word,” said Lin.

All the students agree that seeing what other people create online is a large part of the Inktober experience for them. Cossen shares her enjoyment for seeing Inktober pieces online.

“I love seeing all the art and what people come up with. There are so many different things that artists produce that are completely different from other drawing you see. For example, with the ‘ring’ prompt, they were all involving physical rings, but [the rings] were incorporated in different ways,” said Cossen. 

Inktober, aligning with Parker’s vision, has become a globally used challenge in October that improves both artists’ work ethics and skills, while also providing a platform for artists online to come together as a community and collectively improve their skill sets and consistency. The event’s success is evident in both the multitude of artistic media posts and prompt lists people create aligning with their own interests: in entertainment, in anatomical practice, in culture, and in anything else they may enjoy. Within the restrictions of Inktober there is freedom of expression, and a general festivity that has evoked the creativity of the creator, rekindled the excitement of the exhausted, and inspired the inexperienced.

Photo by Cynthia Lin