This year, I participated in the Inktober drawing challenge for the third time. For every day in October, I drew an original ink drawing according to the challenge’s prompts and shared my results on Instagram.
The Inktober challenge was started by American artist Jake Parker as a way to improve his inking skills. It’s since become a global movement, and this year’s Inktober has been the biggest yet. The hashtag #inktober2019 has been used for over 5.3 million posts on Instagram. It’s even making news headlines.
I’m not someone who gets fanatic about things but I push myself to finish this challenge every year, without fail. The amount of growth and enthusiasm I have for drawing during this time blows my mind.
Besides having more pieces for my portfolio, I’ve learned some important lessons. About myself, being bravely confident, and getting the best out of my time and skillset.
Make quantity over quality
There’s a nice story in the book Art and Fear that talks about perfection. It compares the progress of two sets of pottery students. The story says that the highest grades went to those students who were churning out many pots rather than focusing on making one perfect piece.
It’s a well-known belief that you’ll learn more from making mistakes than you do from studying how to be successful. Inktober is a huge testament to this. Over thirty-one illustrations I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I’m not proud of every piece I’ve done but there’s been a lesson in each of them.
This doesn’t only apply to ink drawings. You’ll learn any new skill quicker if you try as many things as you can and see what sticks.
Post your work without fear
The thing I don’t like about posting online is that everything has to be ‘perfect’. It needs to show you in your best light. We take time to tailor our feeds, curating the content until it’s spotless and perfect.
Daily challenges aren’t so merciful.
There’s no option to skip a day. You’re driven by the end goal of seeing all thirty-one pieces lined up on your feed, and not even a bad drawing can stop that from happening.
There were a few days where I didn’t like the final result. If it wasn’t for Inktober I would give up and not post anything; for the sake of the challenge, I posted every single drawing, flaws and all.
As it turns out, some of my favourite pieces ended up being the ones I was most reluctant to share. And some of the most liked drawings were ones I didn’t particularly care for.
Stick to the daily grind
Forming habits is hard, especially when you’re trying to fit a new and time-consuming behaviour into an already busy schedule. But the effort pays off. Putting in even a few minutes a day will make you grow, little by little.
I didn’t notice my growth until I started redrawing some of my pieces from last year’s challenge. Change can be slow, but it’s always happening. If you put in the time, you’ll see progress.
Hold yourself accountable
Usually, when I draw, I do it for myself. Inktober is the one time of year where I share my work with others. Drawing alongside other artists is refreshing and motivating, and it’s nice to learn new things from people you respect.
Posting your work on a public channel gives you a sense of vulnerability. It feels like you have a group of people you don’t know cheering you on, making sure you stay on track. This support keeps you motivated to do things properly.
By the end of the month, you get into the habit of supporting yourself and thinking encouraging thoughts. You’ll be your own motivation.
Make time for mindfulness
In a world so saturated with screens and lights, having something physical is a breath of fresh air. It’s part of why people like to pick up a paperback or thumb through a newspaper. There’s something calming about being away from a screen for a couple of hours a day.
Carving out time to draw is a wonderful excuse to tune out. As someone dealing with high-functioning anxiety, things like Inktober are a blessing. It’s a way to channel my energy in a way that’s calming but still productive. Tricking myself into relaxing, but still getting stuff done.
Enjoy finding your style
One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to be consistent. Your style can vary depending on what you’re into, or what you’re capable of making. But practice makes consistent, not perfect. You’ll get comfortable doing things a certain way.
Drawing every day has made me more familiar with my style. I’m starting to learn more about what I enjoy drawing and what I’m good at.
I’ve already shared a few of my favourite drawings in this article but you can find the others on my Instagram. If you missed Inktober this year, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start a daily drawing habit!