Staying on top of the creative trends with inspired artwork is part and parcel of being in the creative industry but after nine long months, it can be difficult to stay motivated – especially when you’re dealing with the dreaded artists’ block! Doodling and trying new things is all well and good, but you might find that a more structured creative process is best for breaking through the noise.
Read on to find out how you can cast your hand at a simple art challenge and get back on that creative horse…
Try the Inktober Art Challenge
‘What is Inktober?’, we hear you say. Well, Inktober is an art challenge designed to level the playing field on mediums but expand your range. It started way back when artist, Jake Parker, wanted to develop his inking skills. He created a month-long challenge with a new prompt every day. He shared his results on social media, and over time, thousands of artists and creatives worldwide started to take part too.
How to take part in Inktober
Taking part is easy – just check the website or their dedicated social media channels and the Inktober2021 hashtag to find the prompt list and get going. You can keep your drawings private or share them over social media for feedback and to inspire others. And don’t worry if you’re a few days late starting – some wait until the last day and then share all 31 pieces at once.
It’s almost like an art journal in a way and can show how you’ve progressed. The drawings might even indicate how you’ve been feeling mentally, so it could be an interesting challenge from a mental health and wellbeing perspective too.
What are the rules?
There aren’t any steadfast rules, only that you should follow the prompt list. Most participants use some kind of ink, be it pens, Indian inks or stamps, but others use pencils or digital art software. It’s all up to you and your interpretation.
What are the benefits of Inktober and other art challenges?
For example, a ballpoint pen may not seem like an ideal drawing tool, but you can get unique texture in your lines, and you have to think differently when it comes to shading. Similarly, with Indian inks, they are much more fluid than you might expect, and lines can bleed together to create different tones, so you need to go with the flow (sorry for the pun).
The benefits of art challenges:
- They challenge your thought process by making you think differently with minimal materials.
- They help you look at things from a different perspective as they’re unusual prompts.
- They can help you break through creative blocks as they help you focus on something else and fee your subconscious mind.
- They can be a mindful distraction by helping you forget about any problems or stress and focus on the art.
- They allow you to work with unfamiliar mediums.
The reason these challenges work so well is that they are simple, easy-to-follow, and are structured to help you develop.
Ways to prepare for the Inktober challenge
To get yourself all set to go, it’s good to choose your paper and medium at the start and stick with it throughout for some consistency. Equally, if you wanted to spend more time and try a range of inking techniques, that’s encouraged too.
If you’re choosing to go with pens the whole time, there are a few options:
- Go with ballpoints for an easy access but challenging option. These kinds of pens are known for not blending, so while there is always one at hand, it might be more tricky to get the effect you’re after.
- Go with fine liners for a more refined, graphic feel. You can get sets with a range of thicknesses from 0.1mm to 1.5mm and explore how different lines can create different looks and detail.
- Go with classic felt pens for a vibrant look. No one said the ink had to be black or blue, so why not add a splash of color to get those creative juices flowing?
- Go with professional brush and coloring pens for an illustration or comic feel. Brands like Promarkers and Copic are excellent for this animated feel and are easy to layer and blend.
Next up is the paper. This will depend on the type of ink you are using:
- A good quality sketch pad or sketch journal with acid-free paper of around 140gsm will be sufficient for most ink art.
- Watercolour paper might be a better choice if you’re using more fluid ink as it’s pre-stretched and thick enough to cope with the amount of liquid. There are smooth and rough types available and different textures to consider as well.
- There’s also cartridge paper of around 220gsm, which is nice and thick and can be used with a variety of media. So if you’re a regular artist, this might be a good choice if you expect there to be leftover paper once the challenge is over.
- If you’re going all black with your ink, consider some colored paper for added interest. Tan paper has a traditional feel, and most art shops sell thick colored paper
postcards if you’re after uniformity.
Don’t forget your accessories either. If you’re after clean fine lines and boxes, make sure you have washi or masking tape at hand to outline your drawing space. And if you prefer to sketch before you ink, then have a soft pencil and eraser ready too.
There are loads of benefits of art challenges, and they are excellent at being a distraction from stress or creative blocks, so why not give Inktober 2021 a go and see how it could help you?
This guest post is by Debbie Woodliffe, an experienced writer who works for clients such as Stamps Direct to help others learn and develop new skills.