The speed and quality of a professional artist’s work is no joke. It becomes even more apparent during Inktober – a month where artists start and finish a new drawing, every day, for the whole month of October. If you participate in Inktober, you know that the community is primed for engagement. It’s a great way for you to get excited about drawing things you love, making friends, and getting better at drawing. The only drawback is you can easily fall into burnout if you’re not careful.
Inktober 2021 is a new opportunity to feel accomplished and with a new opportunity comes a chance to grow. We’re just getting started! If you want to crush Inktober like a boss and avoid the burnout that affects most artists during this time, then strap in.
This is a hot take you won’t find anywhere else.
The rules for Inktober are simple:
1. Make a drawing in ink from the prompt
2. Post your inked drawing
3. Repeat this every day for the 31 days of October
Take those rules and throw them out. They’re not important. And they’re certainly not the point.
Inktober was started in 2009 by Jake Parker. He started the challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. Parker has since then twisted Inktober into something toxic and been accused of plagiarism. The majority of artists no longer support him, but Inktober 2021 is off in full force. He may have started a movement but it’s grown bigger than him.
The point of Inktober is finding a healthy way to grow as an artist. Inking is the medium and your progress is the goal. The rules of Inktober have nothing to do with improving your skills or developing positive drawing habits. Get rid of them. They won’t help you and they’re the reason that many artists burnout quickly.
Most artists are lucky if they make it to week two of Inktober. You spend the rest of the time feeling guilty about not accomplishing more. When October is finally over, you can breathe a little easier.
The point of Inktober is about creating positive and lasting change in your drawings and your drawing habits. It’s evolved into a supportive community of like-minded artists. As a community, you can hold each other accountable as you commit to progress and spread confidence in your effort to improve.
If you already have good drawing habits, Inktober will be a breeze. You can spend the time enjoying inking and supporting other artists. If you don’t (which is why you’re likely reading this article) you only need one thing to help you carve a new path.
I took part in Inktober a few years ago. I made it two drawings in and was already feeling stress. I wanted to improve my drawing skills and tried to use Inktober to start a new habit. That was my first mistake.
The first time you see Inktober drawings, it’s exciting! Once you decide to participate, that excitement can disappear faster than cake at a birthday party.
Maybe you start the first prompt and can’t think of anything to draw. If you do manage to find something to draw, you realize you don’t know how to ink anything. And if you do have some skill at inking, you realize you need to do this for another 30 days. The pressure can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you have no good drawing habits and you’re using Inktober as a way to develop them.
Like I said before, using Inktober to start a new habit was my first mistake. The second, was not using that mistake as a learning experience to use Inktober in a different way.
I told you to before to throw out all the rules. Now I want you to make one of your own. Instead of focusing on inking a new drawing everyday, let’s focus on building a good drawing habit. If you want to get better at drawing, you need to develop a good habit to maintain a strong relationship with your art.
Your rule only has to do one thing – get you to draw consistently. Decide to draw for a specific amount of time, every day, and make it small enough that you have no objection to start.
You might be wondering why this is the only rule. There are artists out there hustling every day to make drawings for Inktober and doing more work on top of that.
There are two reasons why you need to do this:
1. Comparing yourself to others doesn’t do anything positive for you.
2. Other artists are faking their way through Inktober.
There’s a very small handful of people who participate in and complete Inktober in its entirety. It’s a difficult challenge! It should come as no surprise that many artists who post a new drawing every day aren’t entirely truthful about the origin of said drawings. It wasn’t long ago when we found out where smaller influencers were trying to fake being on private planes.
Full-time artists are busy. They draw things in advance in order to keep up with the pace of Inktober. They’ll use old drawings, find unfinished sketches, or even go as far as to hire people to draw things for them. They’re resourceful because they have to be. Just remember when you start comparing, not everything is as it seems.
We all compare ourselves to other artists. Whether you think another artist is better or you're simply just envious of their style, we compare constantly. Remind yourself to stop. The only person you should be comparing your drawings with is a previous version of you.
When it comes down to it, just remember you started Inktober to get better at drawing. You want to connect with others and use that to propel you forward as an artist. It doesn’t matter what how good it is, it matters that you put in the effort. That effort will compound over time and lead to the quality you desire.
You have to start somewhere. Inktober is a great place to start. The community will bolster your confidence and make you want to continue your practice. If your specific amount of time is only 5 minutes, you’ll still be able to finish a drawing in the 31 days of October. Instead of looking at Inktober 2021 as a way to flex your ability to complete 31 incredible drawings, look at it as a way to get better at drawing and build better habits.
You’ll welcome November with a better mindset and relationship with your art.