7 Ways to Prepare for Inktober

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The best time of the year has finally arrived.  Of course, I’m talking about Fall and kick it off, the yearly art challenge #Inktober is ramping up.  The official prompt list has been posted, and artists everywhere are preparing for the 31 days of illustration, myself included.  Believe me, preparation is necessary. I’ll let you in on a little secret and come clean right now: I have never completed a full Inktober.  I always miss a day or get overwhelmed or even sometimes, merely forget. But this year I want to finally do it. I want to share a full 31 days of ink illustrations and prove to myself that I can finish it, so I’m trying to prepare for the challenge itself and push myself. After all, isn't that what these illustration and creative challenges are about at the end of the day? Bettering ourselves as artists and trying to grow?  

I've followed and studied some of my favorite artists who have completed previous years Inktobers and have done all of the following so that I can be prepared for this years #Inktober2018.  I’m not saying its 100% because this is the first year I am trying it, but I’ll say this: I feel better about my chances of completing the challenged compared to any other year.

Replace necessary supplies

First things first, make sure you got your shiz.  Too many times in the past I thought I have all the pens Ill need only to find out some are almost dead and others are the wrong type of nibs.  Then I get into the excuse that if I don't have my supplies, then I can't draw. So I was proactive this year and ordered my acrylic inks and some watercolor pads weeks in advance.  I have enough sheets of paper to last me through the month, and the amount of ink I have should last a lifetime at this point. No excuse good enough in the supplies department this time.

Pick out Prompt List or Make Prompt List

The first year I tried to join Inktober I thought I could just draw something each day.  That didn’t work. The next two years I decided to stick to the inktober official prompt list, but I just couldn't get into it.  This year I have hopped around from my favorite artists and followed the hashtag closely so I could be open to a world of options meaning all the cool personal lists amazing artists have come up with.  Turns out, I'm not the only one who has a hard time getting into the official prompt list (although I'll still probably try - I'm hopeful). Some artists like @artofkellyb won’t be participating in the technical sense of inktober (meaning she will continue to draw her beautiful digital illustrations) but still shared a prompt list that she will be doing.  That's the beauty of this community art challenge, it's about sharing and working together to be better as artists together!

Now Pick a Theme

Ok so you have your prompt list but that’s just the foundation for the idea, you still have to decide WHAT to draw for that prompt.  Are you going to draw pinup girls themed of the daily idea? Perhaps you want to keep it simple and do a one-line icon drawing. I know a bunch of lettering artists who solely write a daily word in the most beautiful calligraphy you’d ever see.  Whatever you typically like to draw, I’m assuming you’d inject into inktober but picking a theme to stay centered around can help you generate ideas and create a sense of unity of your series which will definitely help when you hit those moments of burnout.

Sketch Out Design Concepts

Waiting until the day of to come up with an idea for your daily drawing is a quick way to overwhelm yourself.  Even though inspiration may hit and you decide to start fresh, there is nothing wrong with backing a backup plan and pre-sketching out some ideas beforehand, or, now. If you have your prompt list, then you have your basis for the drawing and nothing is holding you back!  Since the mission of inktober is to build positive habits and consistency is critical, I personally am going to wait to ink the day of though I know plenty of artists who already have an arsenal of inked illustrations they’ve scheduled to share. We all have lives and sometimes, shit gets busy.  That doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t get to participate SO if pre-inking your drawings are going to help you complete an inktober then I say why not?

Testing Ink and Warm Up

Just so there are no surprises.  You know as well as I do we all get our off days.  Make sure you are comfortable with your pens and nibs and feel like you have a good grasp on the medium, so you're not jumping in fresh.  You are already taking the pressure on to complete and share a drawing every day for the month of October, you don't NEED to add more by making it a point to learn a brand new medium at the same time.  Know what you can handle and know your medium by practicing.

Create Schedule

This is something that the creator of Inktober, Jake Parker, seems to stress a lot.  

"Note: you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, just be consistent with it. Inktober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent, the better." -Jake Parker

Direct from the Inkstruction page. Pick what days you want to actually participate and what part of the day you'll be able to dedicate to the challenge.  Some people prefer to ink in the morning and sketch the night before. My only warning is to not be overly ambitious, which is a usual pitfall of mine. Know what you can handle and don't bite off more than you can chew by creating a rigorous, life-sucking schedule that takes all of the fun out of the challenge for you. If you are working a million hours a week right now and balancing school and planning your cats' bat mitzvah and you only get a day off every February 29th, then I get it, and I sympathize, and if I were you, I would do the 5k.  I know I am a broken record but the whole goal is to build better habits not drive yourself insane.

Decide on a Palette Now

My favorite artists everywhere (on Instagram) are posting polls on their stories asking their followers what inks they like more.  Some are debating between sepia, and black and others can decide if they want to use color markers or straight black ink. This might be easy for you but classic overthinkers everywhere are already panicking.  If the latter is you, don't sweat it. Go with what you like and if you're still debating, comment below and share what you are struggling with!