October is perhaps another month in the calendar, just filled with more festivities. But, for artists, it marks the beginning of a month-long tradition.
Long before millennials went crazy over the ‘Ice Bucket challenge’ and the ‘Bottle Cap challenge’ on social media, another challenge had held the art world’s attention way back in 2009 — InkTober!
InkTober refers to a month-long art challenge created by Utah-based artist Jake Parker to improve his drawing skills and develop a good drawing habit. However, what started off as a challenge 10 years ago soon became a tradition of sorts in the world of global art.
Anyone who participates in the ‘Inktober’ challenge has to do at least one drawing in ink every day. But certainly, it is neither restricted to only artists nor to a compulsory ‘draw every day’ rule.
Those who undertake the challenge have to upload their works on their social media handles, with the hashtag #inktober, making it easy for other participants from across the world to find your art.
How does InkTober help an artist
Sufia Khatoon, a Kolkata-based artist and poet, says that InkTober is defined by its sheer force of creativity that she witnessed while taking part in the challenge last year.
“When I came across InkTober last year, I was taken aback by this sheer force of creativity, it was like I wasn’t painting on my own any more, like I always work on subjects in my garden. It was like working together with a community of artists living all across the globe. It was refreshing and it felt so motivational, challenging and real to do this with millions of artists,” she says.
From different styles, concepts, ideas and mediums to new art innovation, the InkTober challenge has a lot to offer. Given that it is a global platform, artists from across the world get an opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from one another.
“What was more satisfying was checking and learning from other artists. All I could feel was ‘Wow this is huge, this is crazy and what an art piece’ kind of expressions leaving me on my toes constantly,” she recalls while browsing through the works of several other artists.
Khatoon also admits that taking part in the challenge has improved her skills and that she also received positive feedback on her works. “At the end of each day, I was amazed with the velocity and beauty of each work I completed. So it’s a great place to push yourself and work constantly.”
The best aspect of this challenge is that it witnesses the participation of millions of artists, both professional and amateurs, from across the world. And “if you don’t believe in seeing and observing other new styles and art forms, you are limiting your imagination,” says Sufia.
Tool to promote Indian art
According to another artist, the InkTober challenge could be a very useful tool to promote Indian art forms, especially in cities where artists suffer due to the lack of art galleries.
“We have a rich culture and artists can refer to epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata for inspiration. The Indian art forms could be promoted on global platforms like InkTober challenge so that it gets proper exposure,” says A Udayasankar, an artist, art curator, and art consultant.
He highlights how artists in a city like Chennai suffer due to the lack of government art galleries. “The private ones are expensive and not everyone can afford those. The artists here don’t get much support or promotion for their works,” Udayasankar adds.
In such a scenario, digital promotion can help artists garner more global exposure and InkTober could help them to a certain extent, he feels.
InkTober is not just a challenge, it is more than that, says art teacher Susan Athiveerapandian, who is also an assistant professor at Loyola College, Chennai. “It helps inspire people, not only the artists but also those who rarely get time to draw,” she says.
She also highlights how artists lack exposure and opportunities when it comes to exhibiting their works.
“So many students pass out from the fine arts college in Chennai. But they do not get adequate exposure and even exhibiting in galleries too has become very expensive. They rarely get to show their art to others,” she adds.
Susan also pitches for new ideas, including camps, to promote platforms like InkTober that inspire people to draw.