I did an inktober and I want to tell you about it

Inktober is a project where artists make an ink drawing every day for the whole month of October. This year I did an inktober but ignored all the rules, and made Internet Stuff™️ instead. That experiment lives here, but I want to tell you why I did it before you go ahead and judge it. I think that it’s also important to tell you it was a huge pain in the ass just in case you watched it unfold and thought I magically stuck every landing.

The why

“Art” is a word I struggle with a lot. I don’t think of myself as an artist, because none of the things I make feel like art yet. At the same time, I obsess about these things if I don’t feel they represent me, which is one of the nigthmares of being an artist – hence the struggle. For example, I made pottery for well over a year before I thought any of the mugs looked like what I wanted them to look like. They looked fine, and they looked like mugs, but they weren’t the kind of mugs I wanted to make.

In my opinion, one of the qualities you need to be an artist is to be extremely creative. I am not extremely creative, but I believe that everything in life can be learnt by grinding that level. So with inktober I wanted to force myself to think creatively every day, for a whole month, and see if that would level up my creativity.

The how

I don’t like open ended projects because I think they lead to intellectual wankery instead of like, actually doing the thing, so I made up these rules for my weird art experiment:

[1] Honestly the first day of inktober was a joke to make fun of the hashtag and my friend Fabian, who I troll with a circle punch any time I can. This of course ended up trolling me, because I did the whole fucking month afterwards, so ain’t that the troller becoming the trollee. My friend Bushra came up with the name (“it’s always howdy, never howthee”). Her inktober was way better.

[2] I don’t work weekends, and if anyone tells you that “being creative”, or “making art” doesn’t feel like work, don’t believe them. Nothing is a free lunch.

The aftermath

I learnt a lot of CSS. A lot of the days ended up with me looking at Codepen and trying to figure out what animation I could use that day. I learnt about svg filters, and became really comfortable writing keyframes. I finally managed to write align-items: center; justify-content: space-between; without having to look it up. I only crashed my browser once.

Overall it was really, really hard, and I hated a lot of it. A bunch of the days were political. Some of the days were freebies. Day 18 was my favourite. Day 10 almost made me throw my laptop at the cat.

And you know what? I think it worked. I noticed that I was walking around all day looking at everything, like artists look at everything, trying to see what I could use for that day’s inktober. Once, when I was in highschool, an art teacher set me up on a mentoring date with an art school major. I told her half of the time I didn’t know what to paint, and she told me to just look at things and make them weird. “It’s like the Eiffel tower, but like melting over a bridge, you know?”. I didn’t know, but then on day 18 I took a drum beat and made it into a Franken-morphed sheriff. I wrote down every idea that I had, and after the month was over, I still had ideas left over. They’re not all good, but you can afford being picky when you’re out of the drought.