Inktober: What Is It?

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Pablo Picasso

It doesn’t take much to pick up a brush and flair your colours on paper. Art is an expression of something that words fail to decipher. You look around for inspiration, not realizing that the end does not matter so much as the journey that leads to it. Once you start a sketch, every mark that you make on the paper motivates you to make the next one until you can see a story in your art. However, it requires a great deal to draw the first word of your tale. Growing up, we tend to seek reason and meaning in everything we do. Now we have one — Inktober.


Inktober is a world-renowned art challenge that takes place throughout October every year. Started by artist Jake Parker in 2009, the Inktober trend has spread far and wide. Within a decade Inktober has transformed from a small-scale art challenge to an internationally trending art fest. Its growth has been faster than Jake could have expected. Besides the creation of Inktober, he has had several other notable achievements in his profession. He is a short-story creator, concept artist, illustrator, and animator. One of his most renowned works is the ‘Rocket Raccoon’ comic by Marvel, which was published in 2015. He has also worked in the popular Hollywood movie ‘Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’. On September 6th, 2014 he started an “Art Drop Day” to encourage artists to connect with others physically. He co-founded the ‘Society of Visual Storytelling’.

Artists from all over the world have taken active participation each year to make the month nothing less than a festival. With a different prompt for all the 31 days, and with no restriction on the artists regarding the style of work, some of the most recognizable Instagram art has stemmed from Inktober.   Initially, the challenge focused on traditional inking. However, over the past nine years, seeing a quick success, it has stretched its limits. Digital inking, a form of artwork that has surfaced not very long ago, is now considered too. The motive behind the challenge is not the competition, but the inspiration. Artists are expected to depict a story without words to not only inspire but to also provide young and inexperienced artists with the opportunity to bring their talent before the world. It gives an impetus to improving an individual’s inking skills, imagination, and developing positive drawing habits.

Jake Parker

In Recent Years

The virality of Inktober was extraordinary to the point that it now holds the title of being a professional organisation. The official Inktober website provides necessary assistance to people who are interested in art. There are videos illustrating how to ink, the standard equipment used for different forms of artwork, the specifications of these equipment, and where they should be used. In addition to this, Inktober has its own commercial market as well. The site provides access to Inktober merchandise such as T-shirts, travel cases, and enamel pins. Shortly, the market is set to expand, with prized goods like a digital collection of Jake’s Inktober artwork.

Art by Antonio Garcia, lead artist at ‘Ubisoft Barcelona Mobile’, Inktober 2015

Public Perception

Inktober has given many small-time artists and sketching enthusiasts to hone their skills as well. Xio Sosa, a Charleston artist, posted online- “Inktober is the perfect way to practice drawing, to challenge yourself, to create new pieces and bond with your fellow artists.”

Artwork by Instagram artist Gail on Inktober 2016 prompt ‘tree’

The success of Inktober can be judged by the increasing number of posts every year. In the year 2014, over 100,000 inked images were tagged on Twitter. October 2016 saw a total of 1.2 million posts captioned on Instagram, the number increasing to 3 million in 2017, and as of October 27 of this year, 4.2 million posts have been uploaded with four days yet to go. These figures are restricted only to Instagram. The posts on Facebook and Twitter would result in a much greater participation count.

The captions extend my reach to the public. I get exposed to the creativity of artists and receive inspiration from their work, which is an amazing experience.

Alankriti Singh, MIT Student

Artwork on “Poisonous” by Sreeja Krishnamari for Inktober 2018


The hardest thing for (not only an artist but for anybody) to do is look
 themselves in the mirror and acknowledge, you know, their flaws and fears and imperfections, and put them out there in the open for people to relate to it.

Kendrick Lamar

Here’s to hoping that a near future would bring to light a new generation of expressive thinkers. Take part in 2019’s Inktober and get your creativity to shine.

– Tejas Mishra for MTTN

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