What I learnt from Inktober 2019

Note: This post has migrated from my website, and was more relevant in November 2019. Nonetheless I hope you might enjoy my insights into the process and what I came up with last October.

It is finally November! Another night of terror has passed, and a month of ink drawings has come to an end. Like many illustrators, I attempt Inktober almost every year, but never before have I finished the challenge.
This Inktober, I completed 31 Inkdrawings of Animals dressed in Halloween Costumes, and my Instagram has never looked this consistent!
To celebrate the end of this challenge, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what worked for me this month and what I got out of the experience. So without further ado, here are my Inktober Tips and Benefits!

A wombat dressed as jack the ripper and in the background, a bear in a clown costume holding a balloon
On the left? Wombat the Ripper. On the right? A classic Clown Bear.

Picking a Theme

For my Inktober 2019 I stuck strictly to animals in halloween costumes! I had a few hopefully good reasons for that. For one, I am working on a portfolio oriented towards children’s books and publishing, and felt as though I was sorely lacking animal representation amongst my characters.
Secondly, I had struggled with each inktober year before when it came to coming up with ideas for each daily prompt. Prompts are great, but there are still millions of possibilities completely unlimited by a few words per day.I would often find myself clueless as to what to draw, and would either draw something with an only half-baked concept or draw nothing at all. This year, I knew that each day I would have to pick an animal and a costume. That was easy enough! Whilst it was a struggle coming up with new costume ideas sometimes, I knew exactly what I was looking for and what directions to go, so I wasted no time on uncertainty.
Due to the consistent theme, all my artwork for October is now linked and looks cohesive, which I hope will make for a nice page on my portfolio.

Joining Communities

This Inktober, I have been part of more art communities than ever before. I joined in the efforts of a group of artists from SVS Learn who shared their own inktober pieces on a discord daily. My very health onesided rivalry with the amazing Braden Hallet, who is a great comic style illustrator with digital ink, certainly helped motivate me to finish my ink pieces.

A Walrus with a monocle and victorian suit, bloodstained teeth and a glass of dark liquid.
A dapper Walrus with sharp, pointy teeth is enjoying a classy drink of fish juice!

I was also involved with a local group of Illustrators in Kent who each participated in Inktober with their own cool projects. Jake Parker, the original creator of Inktober, made sharing artwork with a community a part of the challenge to better hold himself accountable. This definitly works, and the closer you are involved with other artists involved in the challenge, the easier it becomes to be fired up to do another piece!

Social Media Response

One of the best experiences I’ve had this Inktober was the increased enthusiasm I felt towards my work both on Instagram and Facebook. Since the start of October, I gained a 30 odd followers, which is quite an achievement for a small account of 160 followers in total now. I had regular commenters follow along with my work and praise their favourites.
On Facebook, my average like ratio nearly doubled on each of these animal pieces and I had followers engage by suggesting animals and halloween costumes and sometimes sharing my work with others. Whether this is because I decided to share my work to my personal feed also, posted everyday, or drew cute animals for once, I don’t know. But the response has been incredible! One lady has even gotten one of my first Inktober pieces tattoed on their leg. Which is a first, and an honour.

A black cat with white skeleton markings, playing with a ghost lantern and a pumpkin on a string
This spooky little fellow is now tattooed on a cool lady’s leg. Nope, it’s not me!

Shippable Products

Creating cohesively themed designs this Inktober has one advantages that I hope to make use of soon. It has provided me with 31 concepts and designs which popularity I can now better judge to include in future gift bag, sticker and greeting card designs! These little fellows are wonderfully suited to some level of merchandising, and I look forward to transforming them into little products to sell at the upcoming artfairs I am visiting in November.

How I improved

Finally, the greatest purpose of Inktober is, of course, to improve one’s inking skills and get better at the craft. I have not inked extensively before, so I am not certain how my inking started and ended this month, but I had many people provide the feedback that my art has come a long way since the start of Inktober. I have solidified some inking methods for myself and know now how I like to approach fur, eyes and hatching.

A giraffe wearing a rapunzel tower cardboard cut out with the head dressed as Rapunzel. The giraffe is chewing on her long braid.
It’s a Giraffe. Dressed up as Rapunzel. And Rapunzel’s Tower.

Furthermore, and most valuably for me, I felt myself improving at drawing animals. My portfolio had been empty of them for a reason, as I never drew them much before and shied away from their different anatomy. This month I spent so much time drawing feline, canine and otherwise-animals that towards the end I was able to improvise poses and draw some elements without reference! Paws, Legs and Snouts are all a little easier now and will, I hope, lend a greater variety to my work in the future.

Final Thoughts

There is some argument to be observed every year as to whether Inktober is a benefital activity or a silly challenge bandwagon. I say to each their own, but I have certainly gained a lot from the experience this year and hope to continue the challenge next year if I have the time. If put to a cohesive project or theme, Inktober is a great chance to practise a subject matter and prepare a product for the future, and can be a great social media strategy if upkept daily!
I hope your Inktober went well! Get in touch with me if you’d like to work with me or discuss a project, or follow this blog if you’d like to stay up to date with my progress.

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