Inktober: How this social media trend is challenging artists to jump-start their creativity
Inktober challenges artists across the globe to get doodling on every day of October
It is perhaps an irony that an art form that was relegated to the sidelines because of digital media has resurfaced because of the internet. Eight years after popular illustrator Jake Parker conceptualised Inktober, the social media trend seems to be back in full force this year.
What Inktober entails is artists across the world create ink sketches or doodles, click a picture of their artwork and post it on any social media platform along with #Inktober. While this provides a common thread to artists across the globe, it also serves the purpose it was initially designed for — to maintain consistency and indulge in a creative exercise on all 31 days of October.
But Inktober holds a different connotation and significance for every artist. It is fair for the artist community to be skeptical of Inktober being reduced to another Ice Bucket Challenge-like social media fad. But Melven Castelino, who sketches as Musicartography, believes Inktober is here to stay.
"It is possible that there is a slowdown after October. I really do not think it is more of a social media hype because artists are fewer in comparison to the general people who grow wild with any social media challenge that has no artistic relevance or passion. A true artist will stay committed irrespective of any challenge because they always challenge themselves, not others," asserts Melven.
And challenge themselves they did, as they stared at the canvas for even hours before they could overcome the artist block. "I had no clue what to put down on the paper in the initial days. But then I started by just sketching the eyes. That gradually led me to other parts and here I was sketching on every day of October without fail," says Samyak Bhansali, who doodles as Sketchy Scribbles.
While an official prompt list, containing a suggestive word for each day, is also available online, the keywords are only to provide direction to budding artists and are not really binding. Though Samyak went about on a self discovering journey through his Inktober sketches, he regrets not sticking to the prompt list as that could have challenged him as an artist.
"I came up with my own doodle during Inktober. Then every day, I just kept doodling around it — my hobbies, things I love, characters I love and my wishes. But I feel I made the mistake of not adhering to the prompt list. It could have been a great learning challenge to imagine boundlessly yet within the framework of a wide idea," says Samyak.
He brings home the important point of subjective interpretation. Even though the word is the same, the interpretations could be varied and plentiful. But for budding artists, it could have been a stretch to swear by so many constraints — the constraint of medium, the constraint of idea and the most daunting — the constraint of time.
This is why Siddharth Adesara, who sketches as Calligraphy Shiz, chose not to participate in Inktober. Though he has done extensive commissioned artwork, particularly in ink lettering and doodling, he has always preferred quality over quantity. "The kind of doodles I make demand a lot of time. I take pride in my doodles as they are intricate. I can fill an entire page with the details of a doodle. But that requires planning and execution. While I would suggest aspiring artists to follow Inktober religiously, I would also like them to not compromise with the quality," says Siddharth.
It is perhaps because of the same apprehension that Melven, a calligraphy teacher, steered clear of the suggestive keywords dominate his approach. "I took my artistic liberty to tweak it my way as long as I was creating and sharing my art throughout the month."
His takeaway from Inktober is the dissemination of the love for the age old medium of ink. "I feel the digital ride has overwhelmed the neo-artists who may have never been exposed to inking and its hidden secrets. The joy of inking your fountain pens or childishly messing your fingers or experiencing the beauty of wet ink flow on the paper is far from comparing the use of gel pens or digital stylus. It is the hands-on real time interface that gives a thrill," he says.
But the purpose of rediscovering ink doodling or ink lettering is not all about the romance for a lost art form. This particular medium instills in contemporary artists patience and a keen eye for detail. The ink line is irreversible as once the damage is done, you do not have the option of rectifying it like in digital sketching.
Samyak, having learnt it the hard way, stresses on the same. "Once you go wrong, there is no going back. But even if you do, I won't suggest throwing the paper into the bin. Artistic detours can turn out well too but not artistic blunders. At the end of the day, it boils down to how much you want to get your hands dirty."
Incidentally, the suggestive word of 27 October is 'fall.' Subject to interpretation, as the suggestive word of the preceding day is 'climb,' this writer is already visualising a large number of demonstrative doodles on autumn. It is organic for the artists to perceive 'fall' as the season as they are going through the autumns of their creative cycles too - when they shed all inhibitions and give way to new life, through #Inktober.