Inktober: A Survival Guide for Digital Artists

So you’ve seen hashtags flying about your favorite social media platform with the word Inktober in them.

You’ve seen some of your favorite artists rushing out and buying supplies, or posting about how they’re getting ready for Inktober.

Just what the heck is Inktober?

What is Inktober?

Inktober is a drawing challenge set forth to artists created by Jake Parker in 2009. The idea is that you create a work of art using ink every day in October. (I know, my digital friends, don’t worry, we’ll get to you.) It’s meant to create positive drawing habits and encourage people to stretch their artistic muscles.

Okay, digital artists breathe. You don’t have to pick up a pen. You can stick with your stylus. There are some caveats I’ll get into, but in the official FAQ on the Inktober website, digital artists are allowed to participate. 

Should I do Inktober?

This is a question that may not come up if you’re brand new and have never participated in a drawing challenge, so let me lay out some guidelines of what you’ll be going through. Then you can decide to do Inktober or not.

Digital Art Inktober Drama

Even though the official FAQ states that digital artists can participate in Inktober, that doesn’t mean we’re well received. As with most of the world arguing that digital art isn’t real art, those that participate in Inktober (at least some of them) can get cranky about digital artists participating. Why? They like to say the original Inktober was only for traditional artists, and such, digital artists shouldn’t participate.

Not to mention, part of Inktober is getting your work recognized on an official social media platform that everyone is watching. When you participate in Inktober, you’re encouraged to post your work online with the #Inktober hashtag. Of those, some are chosen to be featured on the Inktober Instagram. Wellllll… if you look at that Instagram, the vast majority of works selected are still traditional art. So be aware of that before you decide to participate.

31 Days of Art

31 Days in October

Sit there and think about that one for a moment. If you want to do the entire challenge, you will be setting yourself up to do one full piece of inked artwork every day. Think about how long it takes you to do one art piece now. A couple of hours, maybe? That’s a couple of hours every day devoted to art. While that’s good, it can cause stress and self-depreciation if you fall behind because you got sick, or the kids got too loud, and you couldn’t draw or a thousand other reasons.

Which leads me to the next topic…

Stress

Inktober is a challenge. Read that sentence again, here; I’ll do it for you: Inktober is a challenge. Challenges are inherently stressful and meant to stretch your limits. Evaluate your mental state. If this isn’t a good time of year for you to undergo stress, or add extra workload, step back.

The Good Things

Okay, I always like to get the negatives out of the way before we get to the positives. It leaves you with a better taste in your mouth. If you have the time to devote to Inktober and if you want to develop better drawing habits – then Inktober is for you, as are other drawing challenges. Sometimes, we need that outside nudge to get ourselves onto a better path. Drawing every day for 31 days will improve your drawing. And after it’s over, you’ll probably still have the itch to draw every day.

Kind of what the challenge is designed for.

Inktober Don’ts

Alright, again, negatives first. Let’s go through some things you should not do as a digital artist for Inktober. So here’s the list of Don’ts.

Don’t:

  • Think you’re a bad person if you can’t complete it
  • Sacrifice your mental health/sleep/responsibilities
  • Think you have to follow the prompts to the letter
  • Feed the trolls that say you’re not doing it right cause you’re using digital mediums

You would think a bunch of this would be common sense, but there have been many videos and stories out there of artists that try to participate in Inktober and end up causing themselves so much stress it damages their will to do art. Don’t do this. If you start to feel yourself getting burnt out, take a break. If you want to continue in the challenge the next day or a few hours later, then keep going.

Inktober Do’s

Now that we’ve gotten the standard warnings out of the way let’s go onto the things you should be doing during Inktober.

Do’s:

#Inktober
  • Manage your time to make sure you can complete a work every day
  • Use the prompts if you’re stuck
  • Use whatever process is best for you – but make sure it’s a single color (preferably black)
  • Post your work online with the hashtag
  • Be proud of your progress through the month

Remember that Inktober is a challenge designed to help you develop better drawing habits and to stretch your artistic muscles. Doing Inktober can be a fantastic way to progress quickly, as the best way to improve something is to do it repetitively.

Other Challenges for October

Not a line artist or inker? That’s okay; there are other challenges you can participate in during October. I know I won’t be participating in Inktober as line art isn’t my interest at the moment. But I might check out one of these other ones instead.

Orctober: Have a love of orcs or fantasy art in general? Here’s your chance to draw a lot of orcs!

Drawlloween: Draw spooky stuff all October long!

Are you going to participate in Inktober? Know someone that might and want to send them this guide? Hit the share button below to send this to your friends on social media.