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Did anyone else take part in Inktober 2021?

As is becoming increasingly common in my life, I can’t quite remember how I was introduced to Inktober. I think my wife might have mentioned it in passing and I thought ‘ooh that sounds interesting!’

So I participated in 2020 and have just completed the 2021 event. The event consists of a thirty one day challenge over October to produce a daily drawing in ink in response to a given prompt, which is then posted on the social media platform of your choice tagged #inktober2021 and #inktober (mine are on Instagram). The prompts are released in advance allowing some planning. This all removes the artist’s question of ‘what the hell do I draw today?’ At least for a month.

A guy called Jake Parker started this up in 2009. The Inktober website now describes the event as: ‘a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year’. The site offers a mailing list, partnerships with materials suppliers and merchandise. I shall have to have such an idea. It’s also struck me that the challenge provides the now Inktober organisation with a library of amazing images from some excellent artists (so much better than me) for free. But I suppose that individual social media posting does this too.

The challenge is certainly challenging. Some of the prompts are little more than concepts, such as ‘sour’, ‘open’ and ‘risk’. It’s fun to consider which one to go for when a word has several potential meanings, such as ‘tick’ or ‘spirit’. Yes there’s a chance for forward planning, but most of mine were the first thing that came into my head on the day; I have little time for anything else. Some prompts might seem easy, such as ‘helmet’, but one wants to do something a bit more sophisticated than just drawing a helmet, so what does that look like?

Then there’s the choice of materials – fineliner, brushpen, handy fountain pen I had by the side of my bed. Do you bring in colour? I’m a black and white person myself. If you want shading, that’s hatching or stippling with the fineliner; brush pen – forget it, there’s no gradation, at my skill level anyway. This is all intended to raise standards and to stimulate creativity and I believe it does that.

Instagram ‘likes’ provides some way of measuring one’s performance; I suspect that individuals grow their own little fan clubs, it was mainly the same people liking mine. Almost sadly I have used a spreadsheet to identify a top five. Interestingly fineliner sketches score three out of five, a fourth is fineliner with a touch of brushpen, the fifth ‘fuzzy’ was done with the bedside fountain pen. So here are the scores:

  • Fan             49
  • Crispy         48
  • Vessel         45
  • Watch         45
  • Fuzzy         45

Don’t look for too many hidden meanings in these drawings as they start from a vague idea that pops into my head that’s embellished for visual interest. So ‘vessel’ could have had fishies surrounding the fishing line, but it occurred that submarines would be more interesting. ‘Crispy’ is from my life, as I had a cat that was bizarrely fond of eating cheese and onion crisps.

Has anyone else out there in Blackpool land done this challenge? It would be good to hear from you and hear about your experience. Surely I can’t be the only one.

It’s hard work to keep up with this challenge, albeit it’s satisfying to do so. Inevitably it’s good to do and good to finish. Some of mine were done fairly late at night and on the edge of sleep, which I am sure people will tell me shows. After a breather, the Inktober people are back to Inktober 52, an all year round weekly challenge – this week’s is ‘layers’. Quite a few cakes have come through already. Next question – do I carry on with this and do I do Inktober2022?

Inktober has attracted controversy after it was copyrighted. There has also been criticism after a related book about sketching and drawing in ink was accused of plagiarism. The partnerships and merchandising do cause me some concern; some really excellent artists (not me) are propping this up with free work. The event seems to have moved on from the free wheeling, jolly event amongst creatives that it seems to have started out as, while in my opinion still presenting as an informal creative network. But let’s face it, we live in a capitalist society. There are now a number of alternatives to Inktober and I might check these out – ooh, Doodlewash looks interesting, it leans towards my favourite watercolours.

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  • I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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