By JOHN HENRY
The month of October brings with it the changing of the leaves and a world of colors, a colder, crisper snap to the air, most everything pumpkin spice, scarves, and of course, Halloween. For most, October brings fall, but for some it brings ink.
Inktober is an international social media challenge started by illustrator Jake Parker that encourages artists to make one ink drawing a day and post it to social media. The challenge began in 2009 when Jake Parker launched the initiative online. Parker says he was inspired to start the Inktober movement, because he was looking for an excuse to draw and the social media aspect of the project held him accountable to producing content every day. Initially Inktober was a personal project until it was picked up by several online platforms such as an artists’ blog known as Drawn. In 2010 the traction for the Inktober movement stalled. Parker, the leading illustrator of the movement, suffered a face injury and only completed two drawings that October. Even with a slow start, the Inktober challenge has been running for eight years now and the number of participating artists has skyrocketed from mere dozens to actual millions. Visual galleries of ink drawings litter social media, and a body of artists contribute to an international social media album. The challenge itself has rules that mandate all drawings to be black and white, that the drawing be in ink, and that the illustrations must be posted to social media. The rules are loose, and there are certainly no judges that police the work done, but for the most part illustrators enjoy the guidelines.
In a community of millions of Inktober illustrators from all ages, sexes, skill levels and walks of life, there are some college artists; specifically, there are some CC students. Cat Braza is one of several students dedicating themselves to the Inktober challenge. Like Parker, Braza uses the challenge as an occasion to draw more. “It gives me the necessary structure and sense of obligation for me to actually draw daily, as I’m constantly telling myself I should,” said Braza.
Creating and maintaining a daily drawing habit is harder than it sounds and even Braza confesses that she misses some days of the challenge. Being “chronically busy” often means there isn’t enough time to draw even with the added obligation of a social media audience. Braza strives to make art for herself, without worrying about the audience, but as a graduate of a competitive art high school she wasn’t trained to think that way. “I would like to think—and be able to truthfully say—that I only ever draw for myself, but I’m not sure I’ve yet arrived at the point at which that would be honest. Having gone to a competitive and highly stressful high school for the arts, my relationship with my art and the way people perceive its quality is complex,” explains Braza. Including both Facebook and Instagram, Braza’s artwork has a reach of about 3,000 people, and the feedback from her followers is overwhelmingly positive. The challenge has spurred several amazing creations on Braza’s social media and demonstrates a promising future for her as a professional artist.
Braza is one of millions of artists who uses Inktober as a chance to improve their skills and fall in love with drawing again. For the artists involved, it’s communal and cathartic, and for the audience, we hopefully get to see a little more artwork in our lives.