Who remembers Clovember, in which the idea was to draw your clothes every day through the month of November?
Well, perhaps I’m a sucker for these portmanteau-titled month-long challenges, because along came Inktober (draw something in ink daily for 31 days) and I did my usual thing (“No promises; I might just do one or two”), before immediately feeling that I had no other choice but to complete the challenge.
You can choose to work from a list of daily prompts, but I made a swift and unconsidered decision to base my images on photographs from the news. My motivation was twofold:
– News photographs often contain people in dramatic but unposed compositions, which hopefully would teach me new angles and ways in which humans intersect, to carry through to my work in comics;
– We see so many images online every day; by drawing them, I wouldn’t be able to just scroll by and hardly understand what I was seeing. Instead, I’d be thinking about each person as I drew them.
The kind of pictures I chose
As always with this kind of project, it took a few days for me to settle in and understand exactly what I was doing. After a week or so, I began to know exactly what sort of photographs I was scouting for (a process that often took as long as the actual drawing). Elements that attracted me were:
– Crowds of people, often swarming around a central point: an interviewee surrounded by journalists with recording devices; a protester being manhandled by multiple police officers; a speaker being harangued by opponents;
– Compositions where one or more people were in the foreground with others in the background, ie differences of scale;
– Complicated scenes where it is hard to tell which body part belongs to whom
– Interesting clothes, faces, poses and expressions.
How I worked
The only Inktober rule is that you use ink. In most cases, I went straight to pen without any pencil drawing first, although there are a few exceptions to this, especially early in the month.
Drawings took between 20 minutes and an hour. I managed a daily drawing despite being ill for two of the days, home late on one of them (resulting in a late-night drawing) and away with work and comics stuff for another four.
What I learned
– This sort of project always requires you to set aside concerns about sharing work that isn’t perfect or as good as you’d like (unless you have all day to redraw the images that don’t come out as you’d like);
– But equally, in the doing, sometimes images emerge that really surprise you, drawn in a way you probably wouldn’t otherwise have arrived at;
– By sharing them on Instagram or Twitter, you get immediate feedback in the form of a ‘like’ count, and the ones which followers like are not always the same as the ones you like yourself;
– Drawing hands will never be easy.
I really hope I can immediately apply some of the experience from this Inktober to my drawings. And next time, I’d like to choose a theme that encouraged me to loosen up rather than to lean towards my natural tendency of tight detail like this. So, perhaps something more imaginary and fanciful. Can someone remind me of that on Sept 30 2018, please?
Here are all the month’s pictures arranged chronologically in a gallery: you can click on one and then you’ll be able to click through them all at full size.
Oct 1: Spanish police resist a woman who wants to vote in the Catalan independence referendum
Oct 2: Chaos as music festival attendees in Las Vegas try to avoid bullets from a serial killer, shooting from a hotel window.
Oct 3: People filling containers with water in an area hit by the hurricane in Puerto Rico
Oct 4: Rohingya families walking towards shelter at the Myanmar border.
Oct 5: Kazuo Ishiguro being interviewed after learning that he’d won the Nobel Prize for literature
Oct 6: Syrian Democratic Forces help a shell-shocked comrade to his feet.
Oct 7: Swedish model Arvida bystrom received threats after posing for an Adidas campaign with hairy legs.
Oct 8: A leopard was loose in India’s largest car factory. It was tranquilised and will be released back into the wild.
Oct 9: Senator Bob Corker described the White House as an adult daycare centre.
Oct 10: In Satiago, Chile, riot police tackle a demonstrator.
Oct 11: Women protest ‘braid choppings’ in Kashmir. A bizarre story of women’s hair being forcibly cut by unidentified assailants.
Oct 12: In Vietnam, soldiers help save a pig after flash floods.
Oct 13: Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen and club legend Andrew Ettingshausen tearfully embracing after an NRL win: an image which won the Nikon Walkley photograph of the year award.
Oct 14: High court judges take a selfie at the valediction ceremony for Mr Justice Bodey.
Oct 15: Kyrgyzstan has held a presidential election that is unusual for central Asia because the result is unpredictable.
Oct 16: A cargo plane crashed into the sea off Ivory Coast, close to Abidjan airport.
Oct 17: Venezuela’s opposition refused to recognise a surprise win for the ruling socialists in the regional elections. Mayor Carlos Ocariz greets supporters.
Oct 18: Raqqa has fallen to US forces.
Oct 19: An outbreak of plague has killed 74 people in Madagascar.
Oct 20: In Mogadishu protesters wear red to show solidarity for those killed in the rpevious weekend’s truck bomb.
Oct 21: Populist billionaire candidate Andrej Babis and his party won the Czech Republic’s general election.
Oct 22: Pole dancing could become an Olympic event. A member of the Chinese national pole dancing team practices.
Oct 23: Demonstrators on both sides demonstrate outside a university where white supremacist Richard Spencer was speaking.
Oct 24: Doan Thi Huong, on trial for the murder of King Jong Nam, half brother of North Korea’s leader, is escorted as she revists the scene of the murder.
Oct 25: A policeman ‘apprehends’ a Leeds United fan.
Oct 26: A member of a feminist organisation is ‘detained’ by riot police during a rally in Santiago, Chile.
Oct 27: People react as the Catalan parliament declares independence.
Oct 28: Hundreds of migrants are stranded in Budapest after police stop trains leaving for Austria and Germany in a bid to prevent them from travelling onwards.
Oct 29: An NSA protester yells at nearby police officers during the rerun of the Kenyan election.
Oct 30: French president Emmanuel Macron plays it cool when catching a whiff of marijuana during a visit to French Guiana, warning youngsters that it won’t help with their schoolwork.
Oct 31: Refugees hold up their hands in protest inside Manus detention centre in Papua new Guinea.
I am an illustrator, situated in Brighton on the south coast of England, and with a special interest in comics and graphic memoir. I also work for a non-profit which encourages people to be active in democracy and to exercise rights such as the right to information through FOIA.
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