Every year, as October approached, I'd see posts about Inktober, I'd see signs in art stores, and I was always curious about it, never daring to participate myself. "I'm not good enough", I'd tell myself. "I have nothing to contribute", "I'm all about digital media, I'm just a graphic designer". Those were all thoughts that crossed my mind every year as October slowly came crawling around the corner. I always liked October for many reasons: fall colors, rainy days, crispy cool days... but now I have one more thing to add to my list of why I love October: Inktober. The concept itself is wonderful: encouraging artists of all levels to draw one thing every day, with prompts (sometimes quite challenging to get them to work with one's ideas) to help them get going. I love the idea. Truth be told, I probably would've never done it if I hadn't challenged myself the month before to illustrate one animal a day. I did this together with another fantastic illustrator in Germany, Booboo Tannenbaum (@booboo_tannenbaum on IG, check her out!), who illustrated one Berlin dog a day. We kept each other accountable, and that helped me be strict and do this daily. Inktober came around and I knew I was ready, though I didn't feel as confident with my "analogous" hands as I did with my "extended hand", the iPad and Apple pencil. So, putting my fears aside, I went for it, and I enjoyed every moment. I admit, there were days that I found it hard, and days when the ideas weren't coming forth so easily, but I did it anyway. Like clockwork, every evening, with the TV on, I'd sit on the couch and create a new illustration. Why the TV? I have always enjoyed working with background noise, that is, if the work permits it, like when I draw, illustrate, doodle, or do anything that just allows my mind to not think too hard about what I'm doing. Maybe that's also a reason why I do it, my mind doesn't get in the way, with annoying thoughts of impossibility and negativity.
Although I tried following all the prompts, I was a bit stumped the first couple of days, since I decided to participate in the spur of the moment when I saw another super talented illustrator I know do it (therefore, inspiring me to go ahead), and wasn't able to come up with ideas fast enough. I got better organized with every day that passed, and then every week. After that first week, I started planning ahead what I would draw, researching images that would help me and inspire me to get my final result. Interestingly enough, some of the ones I felt were not so great, got many good comments and likes, while others I had put much effort into, and I personally thought were some of the best, didn't do as great. Goes to show that, whatever you create, don't think too hard about it, just do it, and allow yourself to create without putting too much thought into what you believe makes it good or bad. Thought should only be involved in the creative process in the beginning; when you are trying to solve a problem, how to approach that problem, or what solutions you can come up with. But, once you are in the process of creating, all thought should be evaded, because then it can only be a hindrance.
I'm already thinking about what tools to use for next year. I might go ahead and buy a new set of ink pens. This year I worked with a few different ones. I started with what I had handy, namely some Staedtler ink pens I owned, and some Tombow brush ink pens I had purchased a while back when I decided to learn to letter. But the tips were too thick, and the paper wasn't absorbing it as well as I had hoped, and it bled a bit much. So, after reading on the Inktober website their recommendations for the Kuretake Zig Fudegokochi 3 brush pen set, I bought those. They were alright, but, again, because I was working on a small sketchbook 5"x7" Robert Bateman Cover series (110lb acid-free white paper), I found it a bit hard to control as the tips were still a bit too thick for my liking. So I went back to looking for other pens and found the Faber-Castell 8 PITT artists pens, which gave me a range from 0.1mm to 1.5mm. Enough to allow for a wider range of inks. In the end, I worked primarily with the 0.1mm tip. I'm already thinking of next year. Been researching, and I will get a Moleskine accordion sketchbook, and the Sakura Pigma Micron pens, as they have even more pen selections for thinner tips.
In any case, here are the illustrations I ended up creating for Inktober 2022. Did you participate? What was your experience?
Besides creating all this new work, which I really enjoyed doing, and challenging myself to try different things and different techniques, I also found an amazing community of artists —with so much talent— who were also willing to cheer each other on and support one another. I found artists whose work inspired me, or whose techniques made me look at how I could improve my own drawings. I had NEVER drawn with ink before, and though I need to pencil the work before inking it, it was a bit uncomfortable, because once it was done, it was done and I couldn't "fix" it anymore. I had to let go of the perfectionist in me as well. It wasn't easy. Although I'm learning to let go, I find that it's still a struggle to show my work if I find something that's not "perfect". I'm working on an illustration course to experiment with different mediums, and I'm hoping to learn to let go a bit more. Remember how I said earlier that the mind has no place when one starts creating? Well, sometimes my mind gets in the way too, and though I try not to linger too long on what the critic —who always seems to show up at those times— has to say, it does sometimes affect my work and my flow. All in all, it was a very positive experience and I'd encourage anyone to participate next year and to try to push themselves, to learn, and to leave the "nagging critic" behind.