We are halfway through September, which means Inktober 2017 is right around the corner. Are you planning on joining the art challenge this year? If so, I've put some tips together below to help you prepare ahead, stay organized and make some awesome art.
What is Inktober?
Starting October first, hundreds of artists will take up their pens and take on Inktober. It is, simply put, a month long art challenge. The only requirements are that you create an ink drawing every day of the month. (It's okay to sketch with pencil first.)
There are no real "rules". You aren't restricted to any style, genre or size. You don't even have to make a drawing each day.
Basically, it's a totally chill, flexible challenge that has been around since 2009. Every year there is a prompt list, but you don't have to use it. Lots of artists simply draw what they want, or they choose a theme for the month. Some create their own prompt lists instead.
You can read everything about it on the Inktober website. There are no winners or prizes. The fun is in meeting your goals, improving your skills, and hanging out with other artists doing the challenge.
So are you in?
I did the whole 31 days last year. It was hectic, but I learned a lot! Here are my tips to help you get ready well before the challenge begins:
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1. Have Your Materials Ready Before October First
If you already do a lot of pen and ink art then you are probably well stocked. But you might be like me and forget to check whether your ink pens were ready for 31 straight days of abuse. Ahem. Mine were not and I have to drive a loooong way to find replacements.
You can use any pens (or ink and brushes). Most of mine were (big surprise) Sharpie drawings. But I used my Prismacolor illustration pens too for some of the more detailed drawings. There are some amazing artists out there that just use regular old Bic ballpoint pens.
Whatever you go with, have it on hand, as well as the paper or sketchbooks you will be using.
2. Have Your Workspace Ready
It helps to go into a challenge (or any project) with a clean space. Removing distractions like unfinished drawings will help you stay focused.
If you are one of those free spirits who just takes a sketchbook and draws anywhere (how do you keep people from bumping you??) then you probably don't need a clean desk or workspace. (Though you will have to scan your drawings or take photos of them, so make sure that equipment is handy.)
Otherwise, just keep all your Inktober supplies in one place so it's easy to get to work every day.
3. Plan Your Drawings
Okay, this one is tricky. If you are going to use the official prompt list then you have to wait until it is published. If you are going to get creative with your own ideas, then you can plan weeks in advance.
And by plan I don't mean drawing all of your stuff before October. That would be cheating!
Just grab a piece of paper or open an app and write down ideas for stuff to draw. It can be random or themed. The more ideas you have, the better. No one wants to get artist's block in the middle of a challenge!
4. Decide On a Display Style
Do you like to scan your work in and edit before posting? Or do you just want to take snaps of your open sketchbook or drawing paper?
Although it certainly isn't crucial, sticking to one display style makes your work stand out as your own. That can be a simple as taking a shot of your drawings at a certain angle, using the same props. Just a little something that let's people recognize your posts right away. :)
Last year I used a template that I pasted my drawings over. A lot of people asked me about how I made it or where I found it, so I am including one for 2017 at the bottom of this post if you want to use one too.
5. Be Organized!
I got all mixed up in my first week last year. I was sharing the Inktober drawings to several sites, and posting them in a weekly round-up on my blog. I was impatient, and saved the files all over the computer, and the physical drawings all over my studio. Then I couldn't remember which ones went with which day.
I'm sure you aren't that big of a disaster, but I have to say it anyhow...
Stay organized from the beginning. If you are making loose drawings, keep them in a folder or a basket on your desk. If you are using a sketchbook, label the drawings somewhere! And if you scan them or upload photos of them...well, save them in one place. (Duh, right?)
Whether you plan on turning your drawings into prints or products, or you just want to mark your progress each year, you will probably want to know where to find them. Organize them as you go, because you might be burnt out and sick of them by November!
6. Browse Previous Inktober Art for Inspiration
A simple search on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook will pull up tons of Inktober art from all years. It's great motivation! Plus, you will easily find artists who will most likely be doing the challenge again this year.
One of the coolest things is being surprised by who takes part. You may see an Instagram account that is all photos of sunsets and gourmet food. Then boom, for a whole month that person will be producing madly awesome ink drawings. And you would never have guessed!
7. Think Outside the Box
You aren't limited to paper. You can draw on walls, cardboard, shoes, skin, every day items, etc. You have total freedom to pick your canvas, your genre, your theme, your subject and even your ink color. Yah...it doesn't have to be all black and white. Experiment and have fun.
8. Let People Know You Are Taking On a Challenge
Hang on. I'm not gonna lecture you about accountability or building character.
I say vocalize your commitment so you can free up any time (or space) you might need. Only you know your own schedule, so you are the only one who can adjust that. But I will say that if you really want to finish the whole month, then you might have to let some other stuff go.
Like I said earlier though, if something unexpected comes up and you miss a few days, you aren't penalized or anything. I'm pretty sure I won't be making the whole 31 days this year because I have tons of work to do (the stuff that makes money) and that has to take priority.
(Luckily, drawings don't have to be huge either, so you never know when you can wiggle a small doodle in on the sly. )
Also, if you warn people ahead of time (especially people like, you know, spouses), then they won't be quite as shocked when you say "Don't bug me right now, I'm stippling." :D
Go Forth and Draw
There you have it. I already have my supplies, and I'm working on some alternate topic ideas in case I don't feel inspired by the 2017 prompt list. I have my little file folder all set and labeled. I'm ready for October. Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are too. I look forward to seeing your Inktober creations!
PSSST! Don't forget your free template! Use an editing program such as PicMonkey to add your drawings to the template. You can also add the name and number (day) of each drawing and a watermark.
Artist and blogger. Trying to make the world a happier place one illustration at a time.