Do You Inktober? Here’s Why You – and Your Kids – Should!

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A few of my silly ink drawings from last year’s Inktober. There’s room for everyone to join in the fun. Image: Lisa Tate

For the past nine years, professional and amateur artists have taken on the challenge of creating “31 Drawings in 31 Days” every October as part of the Inktober.

The idea for Inktober came from illustrator, writer, and teacher Jake Parker, who has had his restless hands in everything from animated films to children’s picture books. He created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and “develop positive drawing habits.”

Today, this challenge has been accepted by thousand of artists worldwide, and everyone is invited to join in, whether they consider themselves serious artists are not.

Last year, my daughters and I decided to take on this challenge at home, and it proved to be an extremely rewarding experience for us all. We are planning on taking part again this year.

Here are a few reasons I think everyone, of all ages, with an inkling to sketch or doodle should as well:

• It’s a good place to “start” drawing. I’ve had my youngest daughter tell me again and again “I want to draw, Mom, but I don’t know what to draw.” I completely sympathize with her. I’ve often had the urge to sketch, but once I get the pen in my hand, my mind would go completely blank. Inktober prompts not only worked as way to make sure she sat down to be creative everyday, but also gave her some built-in inspiration. Even if you decide to go in a different direction from what the prompt says, just seeing a prompt idea is an ideal way to get those creative juices flowing.

• You’re brain needs a good challenge. I believe in exercising the body as way to keep it healthy, but the brain needs a good work out as well, like reading and puzzle solving. Trying to come up with a way to turn a single word or idea into a visible image just takes this to the next level. Easy as that.

• It’s a good little break from the everyday rush. October is an overwhelmingly busy time for my family, and you would think adding yet another “daily to-do” to the mix would just make it harder. Instead, I found sitting down to do my Inktober sketch a refuge from the business, and a chance to just sit still and be creative. My teenager also said she looked forward to taking a lunch “drawing” break at school so she could let her mind focuses on something other than classes. Rather than being an extra duty, it has been an excuse to do something we already want to do.

• It shows how everyone has his or her own unique imagination factory. Inktober is an opportunity to connect with others who like to draw, sketch and doodle. Part of the fun of Inktober is posting what you drew to Twitter or Instagram with the #Inktober hashtag. This isn’t mandatory, but is a great way to connect with people worldwide all taking part in the same creative challenge.

One of the things about social media, however, is it can be both a great place to share your creations, but also confidence killer if you try to compare your work to others, particularly seasoned professionals. If you’re shy about sharing your work with the “world,” sharing it with friends and family is just as rewarding.

My daughters and I liked to show off each other’s drawings and ideas each evening after school or dinner. It made for some fun conversations of where and why we came up with what we did. Just look at any given day of Inktober and see how one simple word like “swift” or “mask” can inspire so many different meanings and images.

A few of the many different ways Inktober participants, including myself, interpreted the word “Teeming.” Images shared on Twitter: Valientina Bandera, GrievousAlien, Quinn MacDonald, Rasenjin, and Mota Warrior.

• It emphasizes the value of discipline. One of the reasons Parker started Inktober was to help build up good drawing habits, including putting pen to paper everyday. Discipline and consistency are important things to teach kids and teens, whether it is writing, drawing, practicing an instrument, reading, studying, or exercising. Once you’ve been making a point to do something creative every day for a month, for example, it is hard to want to stop.

If I did a good job convincing you to take pen and pencil to paper this next month, and if you do, indeed, catch the “doodle bug,” there are other opportunities to keep sketching year round.

A couple a years ago, artist Harold L. George and fellow artists Turlock Toon Skward, were inspired by one of Parker’s videos, they create their own summertime challenge, that evolved into “June Toon.” It challenges artists to draw some of their own favorite childhood cartoon characters, and post and share them on #Instagram.  Take a peek at last year’s prompts and ‘toons from George’s site:

"June Toon"
Toons © Harold L. George via his June Toon page.

Animator and cartoonist Atrox also came up with her own “Toon June” prompts, which I tried my hand at, just for fun:

Toon June Lisa
Image: Lisa Tate

If you want some inspiration from other “doodlers,” including some known for other talents besides drawing, check out the illustrations offered at this year’s National Doodle Day in the U.K., if Friday, where artists and other celebrities put their “doodles” up for auction on eBay to help raise money for and awareness for those affected by epilepsy. This year’s top picks include a color illustration by current Paddington Bear illustrator Michael Bond, and a pretty impressive Venom sketch by actor Tom Hardy.

A U.S. Based Doodle event is held each spring, Doodle 4 NF, benefiting the Neurofibromatosis Network.

Both these events not only raise money for a good cause, but are great examples that all it takes is a little direction and inspiration to bring out the artist in everyone.

Here’s the “official” list for 2018 to clip out and keep handy:

Inktober list 2018

Inktober starts in less than two weeks so get yourself a small sketchbook and some nice fine line pens, or even some scrap paper or post-its and a discount star ballpoint. In the meantime. Either way, get ready to get creative.

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