Reviewing Inktober 2021

Looking into students participating in the popular art challenge


Photo by Taralynn Kang | Used with permission

Amber Milesi, Staff Writer

Among the numerous fall activities that take place during October, Inktober is an art challenge in which artists create a new, completed piece every day of the month, usually based on a one-word prompt. While Inktober places an emphasis on ink art specifically, since its creation in 2009, the challenge has worked as an outlet for people to participate in a creative event no matter what type of visual art they prefer. 

Senior Taralynn Kang discovered Inktober during middle school as she was delving deeper into anatomy drawing and using mediums like digital and ink drawing. This year, rather than sticking to the given prompts, Kang wanted to try a different approach.

“I actually created my own list of prompts for each day and I hope to draw most of them,” Kang said. “It’s much more personal for me when I came up with my own list and I just wanted to get more creative and move away from just using the website or other people’s ideas.”

Kang is familiar with Inktober, having participated in the event for over five years now. In comparison, freshman Sophie Minogue found out about the drawing challenge two years ago through social media posts and watching her friends participate, which motivated her to test her own artistic limits this October by participating in this year’s challenge.

“I [decided to] start this year’s Inktober because just the idea of messing with drawing, whether I’m good at it or not, is the perfect way to just improve my own drawing abilities,” Minogue said. “Ive had a bunch of fun art blog ideas that I’ve wanted to try, and this was a great chance to share them.”

Art teacher Brian Chow acknowledges the positive social impact that events like Inktober have for the art community and students as a whole.

“It’s one of those things where people are encouraged to create, and you don’t have to be professional to do it and engage in it,” Chow said. “I think that’s really positive when people are able to have these authentic experiences with their own creativity and originality. And I think, for young [students] especially, you get a sense of what might be on someone’s mind and how they see the world through their answer to the prompts.”

Chow also believes that Inktober challenges young artists to move away from their computers and digital art platforms and instead work with art mediums that they might not be familiar with, such as ink. Kang reflects on her own struggles with hand-drawing rather than using her preferred medium, digital drawing.

“When you have 30 days to get through 30 different prompts, time [becomes] the real enemy,” Kang said. “You only have one day to get your drawing done, and for me, ink is so much harder to work with, and I can never find time between classes and then homework to finish them. I even found myself forgetting to do it because I forgot to create a good schedule to keep track of the days.”

While Kang sees one major struggle for Inktober as the difficulty of the time restraints, Minogue believes that it is the prompts themselves that can be challenging to complete.

“I think one of the most challenging [prompts] I’ve seen was the [first] one for crystals,” Minogue said. “It was such a vague prompt, but there were so many ways to approach it and then it [became] a lot more complicated than just one word. And conveying emotion in an ink drawing is so hard to do, especially if you’re not in the mood to draw because that’s where most of the inspiration comes from.”

However, Kang describes finding her own solutions to the work that goes into maintaining the Inktober challenge, allowing her to enjoy the experience at her own pace.

“Usually I like to listen to music while I draw,” Kang said. “I listen to all kinds of music to help me escape and get away from reality so that I can just draw and put my effort into that. Whenever I get sick of homework I draw, and that is going to be basically how I remember to add to my Inktober collection for most of the days. I [feel like] I’m prepared for this Inktober compared to other years because I have a plan for how I want to get my work up and honestly I’m not worried if I skip a few days [because] I’ll still be having fun.”

As Kang anticipates the days to come, Chow looks at the hidden lesson he believes Inktober and artistic events in general teach students.

“Part of what makes Inktober so great is that it takes art, something that I think is really the truest expression of being human, and offers a way to express emotion,” Chow said. “[It’s] inherently designed to be creative and that breaks the mold around the traditional high school systems that are designed to have students conform. That’s what got me interested in the field of art in the first place and I always encourage students to join because it teaches them something [that] can’t be taught anywhere but through art and that’s the freedom of expression.”