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Inking October away

  • Every year, Inktober comes as a pleasant push for artists across the world to embrace who they are, what happened to them and how their lives have been affected
- Abha Dhital

Oct 15, 2017-Art is not always about pretty things, it’s about who we are, what happened to us, and how our lives are affected.

—Elizabeth Brown

The last two weeks, from what I have noticed, have been fairly inspiring, if not cathartic, to many illustrators across the world. On the first of October, amateur and professional artists alike dusted their sketchbooks, got hold of their ink pens and started out on a mission—31 days, 31 hand-drawn illustrations. All thanks to the annual Inktober Challenge, the internet has been flooded with mind-blowing illustrations that sometimes hit too close to home.

Jake Parker, an American artist who has worked on projects ranging from comics and picture books to animated films in the past 15 years, started Inktober in the fall of 2009 as a personal initiative. All he wanted out of it was growth as an artist—improving his inking skills and developing positive drawing habits.

However, the internet swiftly picked up on the initiative and before Parker realised, artists all over the world started taking on the Inktober challenge. Owing to the challenge’s popularity, the initiative introduced its first official prompt list last year.

Here is how it works: One prompt list, various artists, and multiple interpretations that also vary in style. There’s one important rule: The illustration has to be in ink (even if there’s a pencil underdrawing). To officially participate, all an artist has to do is post their work online and make it accessible through the hashtag #inktober. As easy as it gets.

While the art community here picked up on Inktober a little late, Nepali illustrators haven’t been immune to this niche trend. This year, there are at least 25 Nepali artists participating in the challenge.

“Inktober comes as a reminder about how I should improve my skills,” says Sabin Bhandari, a Kathmandu-based illustrator who is participating in the challenge for the second time. “But I mainly partake in the challenge because it is oddly liberating. It helps me channel feelings through art, which I can’t through words.” 

The thing about Inktober that keeps the artists going is how it focuses on consistency without being too rigid. There’s no hard and fast rule as to when the art needs to be posted. Owing to his busy schedule, Bhandari doesn’t illustrate every day and catches up with other artists once a week.

Mrigaja Bajracharya on the other hand, dedicates at least an hour to the challenge every day. For her, Inktober is like a homecoming. “When you pursue art professionally, it becomes more a chore than a passion,” she says, “I use inktober as an excuse to reconnect with who I am and what I love. It makes me realise where my passion lies.”

Over the years, Inktober has become an initiative that not only motivates artists individually but also brings them together as a community. The challenge acts as a portfolio platform where the artists can produce their unique style of work and share it with an audience that can give them just the feedback and motivation they need.

“Inktober is challenging but it’s also fun. Drawing in itself acts as a psychological kill-switch from the external chaos, and when it’s coupled with an event like Inktober, where people participate worldwide, it is very satisfying,” says illustrator Sarin Bajracharya. “The challenge has helped me test my creativity and improve my inking and line works,” he adds.

Like Sarin, many illustrators use Inktober as a playground where the prompts inspire them to instill hidden meanings and backstories to their illustrations. Some take the challenge further by sticking to particular colour schemes or specific motifs and themes.

Vintuna Rana Jyapoo, for instance, is using Inktober to improve her skills on human body illustrations. She uses the prompts to strictly draw about a particular body part every day. On the sixth day of the challenge, Jyapoo’s interpretation for Sword—the prompt for the day—was an illustration that focused on the elbow. The caption elaborated how the body part is one of the most powerful weapons we humans have. 

Inktober connects to different artists in different ways. For some it’s liberating, for others it’s a drill to help them pick up on what they’ve left behind. For some it’s about practice, for others it’s about the sheer fun of it. For some it’s an excuse, for others it’s a do-or-die assignment.

Humans, in general, are in constant need of an external drive to help them get something done. And every year, Inktober comes as a pleasant push for artists across the world to embrace who they are, what happened to them and how their lives have been affected. The best thing? It only gets better every year.

Let’s see what the remaining two weeks have in store. 

Published: 15-10-2017 08:42

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