The secret behind Inktober’s success

A phenomenon that started for fun

Inktober started in 2009 by Jake Parker. It has since grown into a worldwide thing with thousands of artists taking up the challenge every year. The amount of beautiful ink drawings filling our social media feed is incredible; making this month very interesting artistically. What is the secret though behind Inktober’s big success?


A specific goal

First of all Inktober list provides exactly what many beginner artists lack; focus. It sets a very specific goal; you have to go through α list in a month. This helps artists concentrate on one thing and focus all their efforts to achieve this very specific goal. Although someone could argue this limits the artists’ imagination, in reality it provides some comfort to many. And this is because it prevents the chaos in mind sometimes caused by the endlessness of subjects available.

Stress free creativity

Directly related to the previous one, for many beginner artists (and not only…) finding inspiration and an interesting subject is a big task. Inktober’s list gives a very good foundation onto to which everyone can develop their ideas directly. This takes away the stress of finding a new subject and allows them to concentrate on the creative side of drawing. The actual drawing still has to be developed in the artist’s mind, however this is based on something that is already generally accepted as a “good subject” by thousands around the globe. In other words Inktober gives guidance and leads artists down a very specific route without necessarily cutting down their imagination or creativity.


Artistic discussion

On this basis, Inktober provides a common “platform” and encourages the development of artistic conversation. Work of thousands of artists is accessible online; it actually reaches the audience without even them trying too much. This flow of information about different approaches on the same subject is a constant dialogue between artists themselves. Without even physically talking to each other, they take part in this conversation, exchanging ideas, techniques and styles. The artists have the opportunity to explore different approaches of the same topic and compare their own work to similar work from others. And all this interaction comes for free and with minimal effort (just using the hashtag on social media).

Nothing to lose

This ease and simplicity for someone to be part of Inktober is another reason why the movement is so successful. No need to apply, no need to pay fees, no need to have contacts in the art world. All it takes is literally a simple pen, a piece of paper and your willingness to sketch. If you have these…congrats you are part of the Inktober movement. People have nothing to lose as there is no obligation to finish it or even produce sketches for every item on the list. Inktober is just a good way to have fun, exercise sketching and for many to promote their work.

So, have you created an Inktober sketch you are proud of?


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The Artist says:

“Sometimes achieving a better result is a matter of letting yourself and your hands free to create. This is all what art is about anyway. Some technique and theory is necessary however observing the work of established artists and practicing/experimenting with different styles will eventually give you the desired outcome.”

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9 thoughts on “The secret behind Inktober’s success

  1. I first encountered Inktober last year and got involved, I didn’t think it would make much difference as I was already drawing daily.

    I didn’t realise it would suck me in so much, getting comments and following a common (generally amiable non-judgemental) movement. I found that by the 2nd week I’d set the alarm clock an hour earlier simply to fulfill that day’s challenge. That in itself indicates that I went a bit over-the-top with most of the drawings, some of them turning into 3 hour paintings rather than 10 min sketches.

    I wasn’t going to do it this year as I’ve already got a lot on my plate but I’ve been dragged in again, not against my will but because I enjoy doing it for all the reasons you mention. Simple sketches only this year though… famous last words… 😉

    A couple of tips I’d offer to those considering it.
    1. write out the prompt list on paper and brainstorm some notes alongside for potential ideas, not to draw them in advance as it’s more fun to draw it on the day but just because as the month goes on you’ll find that you get better and better ideas.
    2. don’t look at what others are doing for that day’s theme before you draw your own. It’s easy to be influenced by others even if you think you won’t. A few from last year were hugely different from everyone else’s posts and yet still fitted the prompt word. It’s good to stand out from the crowd sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Steve, I think when you are passionate you cant really help it. If you get involved once then you try to make time for it anyway. I didnt do it this year but I think I ll give it a go next year. It is amazing that it gives you focus to create something new everyday.

      And I totally agree with you – you should not look at others drawings before you finish yours. Thats the only way to remain free to create from scratch. Otherwise I think is inevitable that you will limit your imagination and drive it down the same route as others!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I came across Inktober couple of years ago. I only now realised how big a thing it is. Thousands of artists of different levels follow it. I havent followed the prompt list but i think it is a good way of keeping you creative throughout the month.


  2. I learned about it only a week or so before it started. I’ve been getting back into pen and ink anyway after a very long hiatus getting a handle on painting in oil. I’ve been having fun trying out lots of different combinations of pen (technical, fountain and dip), ink and papers. Since I’m primarily an animal artist I’m not following the list, but working from my own photo reference of animals/wildlife I’ve photographed in the field. Managing one every week day. By the end of the month I should have settled on a few combinations that work well for me.

    Thank you for your Likes, Iasonas! I really appreciate them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan, I think the prompt list is a fantastic way to “force” yourself to draw everyday. Everyone sees this process in a different way. Exploring media and drawing styles is one aspect. Dealing with a variety of subjects is another. I like your approach regarding the different pens and papers. Also, I really like the fact you used Inktober as a good excuse to draw often but you had your own list of subjects.

      Did you actually manage to draw one daily? I didnt start because i knew i wouldnt keep up with it…i think next year though i ll be more determined! 🙂


      1. Hi Iasonas,
        Better late than…. :0)
        I’m an animal artist and the subjects were almost all conceptual, which is not my thing. I have LOTS of reference to choose from and just tried to do a variety of mammals, birds, reptile and an insect.
        No, I didn’t do one a day. I realized right away that weekends were a non-starter since I’m in the studio Monday through Friday as it is. So I did, in fact, do one every weekday and ended up with 22 total.
        I definitely plan to do it again next year.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The “artistic discussion” is definitely one of my favorite parts about Inktober! It’s so fun to see what others will come up with using the same prompt and to see if anyone had the same ideas as you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! On of the most important aspects of art is the interaction it generates with other artists and/or the audience. I attend life drawing classes and my most favourite part is during the break walking around and seeing what the other students have drawn (well…everyone does the same). This keeps me aware of everyone’s level and I kind of compare myself to others’ work. As long as we are involved with art we should be looking for interaction and encourage our audience to feedback on our work. The best way to learn…!

      Liked by 1 person

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