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NPR Arts & Life

Inktober Challenge Pushes Artists To Flex Their Creative Muscles

View this post on Instagram 'Treasure'' Ink on paper 5.7"×8.2" . . . "Treasured smiles" . . . . #ink #inktober #inktober2019 #indtober2019 #officialinktober #inktoberprompts #treasure #art #artsy #artist #selftaughtartist #artistsoninstagram #inkonpaper #conceptart #illustration #illustrationart #illustrationgram #illustratedaily #inkfeature #artjournal #stipling #stiplingart #sketches #dailysketches #randommusings #surrealart #surrealism #jakeparker A post shared by Anu Sam (@the.arti.tect) on Oct 24, 2019 at 9:14am PDT

Each year, October brings pumpkins, witches and candy. But for artists, it also brings the annual tradition of . Illustrator and writer created the drawing challenge 10 years ago as a way to strengthen his ink-drawing skills.

In 2009, he announced on his blog that he was going to create and post an ink drawing every day in October, and he invited other artists to join him. Now, millions of drawings are posted to #inktober on Instagram.

"It's a lot to absorb and follow," Parker says.

A few years ago, Parker introduced daily prompts: a daily word that could serve as inspiration for a drawing during Inktober. Some artists work on a consistent theme or project throughout the month; others prefer a less rigid approach.

"Every year, it's a chance to spend that time focused on a project that can be finished in a month or get a good chunk of it done in a month," Parker says. Some Inktober projects have turned into published books.

The goal is to post a new drawing each day, but it can be demanding to meet that pace.

"I'm all about building habits and even if I can find only 15 minutes to draw, I'll use this time the best I can," writes in an email. "At the same time if I miss a few days, I don't worry about it and will try to catch up but without putting too much pressure on it."

Any artist can join the challenge, using any creative process the person wishes. Here is a selection of artists creating work for Inktober and their experiences, shared via email:

View this post on Instagram First day of #inktober! I decided not to use any prompts because I just want to draw whatever I want :D Who else is participating?! . . . #inktober #inktober2019 #dailyillustration #illustrationartists #illustrationoftheday A post shared by Nicole Xu (@nicolexu_) on Oct 1, 2019 at 9:02am PDT

"I usually draw something simple every day," writes. " It's not a strict rule though. This Inktober, I was swamped with freelance work, so I had to take a break from inking so it didn't feel like a chore."

View this post on Instagram Day 13: Four Eyes #inktober #inktober2019 ————————————— #illustrator #illustration #digitalart #digitaldrawing #digitalillustration #illust #illo #illustrationartists #illustragram #illustratorsoninstagram #illustrationart #animalart #dogart #procreate #digitalillustrator #artistsoninstagram @inktober A post shared by Dominique Ramsey (@euqinimodart) on Oct 13, 2019 at 9:00am PDT

"I think of everyday items or topics that interest me and begin brainstorming how I can turn those subjects into art in the most eccentric way possible, while still keeping animals and nature as the main focus," writes.

View this post on Instagram Here’s my own off-prompt Inktober entry for today: SPINE. • • On Tuesday my back decided it was going to take a holiday. You know how a spine is more or less supposed to be aligned vertically? Well, that is not how mine do. It’s the smallest thing that set it off: sitting down on a stool. • This drawing references the lumbar which is where all the soreness is and it seems to be just muscles, not a slipped disc. Luckily I have great coworkers and an amazing wife who have helped cover for me these few days. 🌲 A post shared by Michael Lindberg (@dustybrockway) on Oct 4, 2019 at 8:30am PDT

"I like to create pieces as often as I can," artist Michael Lindberg writes. "Sometimes that means several drawings a week or just one. I enjoy the process of generating ideas and getting them out of my head."

View this post on Instagram #inktober catching up for missed day 12. . #art #artist #artwork #inktober2019 #sketch #sketchbook #portrait #ink #drawing #artistsoninstagram #illustratorsoninstagram #illustrator A post shared by Daria Golab (@dariaesste) on Oct 21, 2019 at 3:52am PDT

"When it comes to Inktober or any other challenge, I try to post every single piece," Golab writes. "Even if I don't really like it, I try not to subscribe to the idea of only showing good results. Good artists make bad works too!"

View this post on Instagram 'Ash' Ink on paper 5.7"×8.2" . . . . "From dust we come and into dust we return" . . . . #ink #inktober #inktober2019 #indtober2019 #officialinktober #inktoberprompts #ash #art #artsy #artist #selftaughtartist #artistsoninstagram #inkonpaper #conceptart #illustration #illustrationart #illustrationgram #illustratedaily #inkfeature #artjournal #stipling #stiplingart #sketches #dailysketches #surrealart #surrealism #typography #typographydesign #jakeparker #inktoberpoe A post shared by Anu Sam (@the.arti.tect) on Oct 14, 2019 at 1:44am PDT

"I have been creating pieces almost everyday this month," artist and architect Anu Sam writes. "However it takes me much longer to perfect an artwork otherwise, seeking for just the right mood. Since my method of execution involves stippling I tend to work for hours on a single inked drawing for the day."

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