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Inktober 2019 – The first 15 drawings

It’s that time of year again, and once more I entered the maelstrom of feverish scribbling that is Inktober. Here are the first fifteen of my daily drawings (Days 16-31 to follow).

If you’ve not heard of Inktober before, it’s a social media challenge, where participants create and post online a drawing made in ink (of whatever kind), one a day throughout the month of October, using the hashtags “Inktober” and “Inktober2019”. Artists are free to draw whatever they like, but some  choose specific themes to work on, or follow the official list of prompt words (there are also several non-official prompt lists).

Personally I like the challenge of the official prompt list, not because I’m particularly inspired by the words, which can sometimes appear rather lumbering on face reading, the challenge is finding a way to fit the word with an illustration that digs beneath the obvious, that is both personal and coherent. And if you can add layers that respond to the prompt word on multiple levels all the better. The interesting challenge of Inktober is as much about ideas and interpretation as it is about drawing.

This year I drew everything using the same pen, no experimenting with various tools. That’s probably something to do with a certain degree of chaos at the moment – there’s a lot going on this month in the household – dummy submissions, major building work on my house, volunteer commitments with SCBWI and so on, Inktober was squeezed in between these, I wouldn’t say I was particularly relaxed during this process! And that’s all on top of all the chaos in the news…

All the drawings were made without pre-October preparation, no drawings pulled out of the stock draw or created/planned ahead. I looked at the word on each morning, considered what I would draw during the day, and drew it in the evening, sometimes later. Twice I fell behind a day, it happens, but managed to catch up before the end of the month.

 These are rather different from commissioned drawings – more about a meandering flow of ideas, somehow the constraints of illustration briefs can place barriers on the way we approach work. If I think – oh, this is for publication! It becomes a task, a job. Inktober is great, because although the task is still there, I don’t feel the pressure of professional requirements to closely match a brief, there is a theme, but so much freedom to express and explore.

It has been suggested I “do something” with these drawings – perhaps publish them in a book? A colouring book perhaps? Or perhaps sell them as prints? I’d need to test the market for that, do get in touch if you’re interested! – I have a LOT of black & white drawings, most of which just sit in sketchbooks or otherwise gathering dust, I’m not very good at merchandising/selling my work to the general public outside the parameters of the illustration business. I once started, but quietly abandoned an Etsy shop,  I’m not a great shopkeeper for my own work, something I need to look at more carefully!

Also, as my Inktober drawings are fundamentally sketches I’d want to redraw some much more neatly if I were to sell them – but then of course they’d lose their immediacy. You always sacrifice something when you take a vigorous sketch and redraw it precisely, it’s like caging a wild animal.

So what next? I’m considering carrying on doing daily drawings, maybe after a short break! Will I do it next year? Well, who knows! More pictures on the way from the second part of the month in the next post…

#inktober2019 #Inktober #penandink #sketchbook

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All illustration images © John Shelley, not to be used without permission scribblatosis(at)gmail(dot)com