Some Advice for #inktober

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Developing a new skill or discipline can seem overwhelming at first, but it can be personally rewarding in ways we can’t always anticipate. For me, participating in #inktober has been an amazing adventure. I encourage you to give it a try, so I’ve been sharing my advice on getting started and keeping it going.

What’s #inktober? It’s an informal artistic challenge organized by @inktober, where artists draw with ink for the 31 days of October and share their drawings with the hashtag #inktober. There’s an official list of daily prompts, but following the prompts isn’t required.

When I first tried #inktober, it was a whim. I didn’t consider myself as someone who could draw (except with code). My first drawings were pretty terrible, but eventually I improved. I continue to draw daily, and share them with the hashtag #inkyDays on twitter and mastodon.

If you’re thinking of joining in on this year’s #inktober, this advice is for you.

This is especially important, if you’re planning to draw every day. It can be a challenge to carve time out of every day and devote it something new. So keep that time relaxed and short.

You’re going to make mistakes. If you don’t, you’re not challenging yourself enough. So when you make them, see what you can do with them.

Time management can be tricky. Remember this. Set realistic goals that you can meet. If it turns out you can do more, then go ahead. But don’t exhaust yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

I started out drawing guides and outlines in pencil. It took me a while to let go of this. Think of pencil as training wheels.

The official prompts are great. They can really get you thinking. But you don’t have to follow them.

When I started, a whole month of daily drawing seemed like an impossible challenge. I told myself I was aiming to make it one week. By the end of that week, I was amazed I was ready to start another week.

The whole point of all this is for you to grow. Growth can be messy, so if all of your drawings are perfect you’ve missed out on something.

It took a while, but eventually I got to the place where I wanted to take a drawing farther than I had time for in my #inkyDays time. So I started drawing outside of that time, especially if I came up with a pattern I wanted to explore more.

I did a lot of crappy drawings, especially early on. I still do a lot of crappy drawings. But sometimes, something unexpectedly special happens.

I’m so glad that I took in-progress photos in the beginning. There were days when I went way too far and ruined my drawing. But with the photos, I had something to share.

Working in digital, or code, any step can be undone. Working in ink requires thinking ahead and knowing when to stop. Developing this habit has not only improved my ink drawings, but has helped me in my work as a coder.

OK, there are some amazing artists out there posting their amazing drawings. It’s easy to get intimidated by it all. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look. Just finish your drawing before looking. Show love for the other artists and ‘like’, share, and complement. Keep any negative comments to yourself, if you must have them.

I really do love my glass dipping pen, and I’ve collected lots of different inks while traveling and at home. But when I’m traveling, I use a regular ball point pen. There’s no reason you can’t use a regular ball point pen.

Data Visualization Consultant. Generative and Data Artist. Creative Coder. Founder of GalaxyGoo.

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