Inktober has been a semi-defining feature of the digital art community for just over a decade. If you’re not familiar, don’t worry – we’ll cover what it is, how it works, and how you can participate! While it’s experienced some controversy in recent years, Inktober is ultimately a celebration of art and the people who create it, and it’s a great low-pressure community activity to help artists of all skill levels grow.
We’ve also got some fun natural-world-themed prompts for artists looking for Inktober-Alternatives, so stay tuned to the end to check those out!
What is Inktober?
A bit of history is in order.
It all began in 2009. Looking to improve his own skills, American illustrator Jake Parker offered the internet a challenge: every day during the month of October a new one-word prompt would be provided. Artists everywhere were encouraged to interpret the prompt quickly, without much preplanning, and in ink – hence “Inktober”. For nearly a decade Inktober was a smash hit, with each yearly iteration highly anticipated by both artists and audience.
One major draw of Inktober is that it encourages artists to not overthink their work – between the daily prompts and un-editable nature of ink, participants benefit from moving quickly and keeping it simple. It’s also a fun reason to experiment with a new medium.
We all know that daily practice is an effective way to grow skills, though the idea of doing something every single day can sound daunting. With Inktober, there’s a huge participating community eager to encourage and inspire each other’s work. That makes it much easier to keep momentum and motivation through the gauntlet of 31 consecutive days.
While completing the entire month is definitely a challenge, most everyone agrees that it’s a valuable exercise and, most important, just plain fun.
In 2019, Parker trademarked the term Inktober and created an official site. Artists received Cease & Desist letters. Given that many of the affected artists had been using the #Inktober name since all the way back in 2009, this was an abrupt and (understandably) upsetting change, and many expressed frustration at the idea of producing the work under the Inktober name and then not being able to promote it as such.
Shortly afterward Parker released a response on Twitter and his personal website. The general idea of his response was that he never intended to prevent artists from selling their own work. He said, “Back in 2009, I created the Inktober art challenge as a way for artists to get better at drawing, find other cool artists, [and] grow an audience for their work.”
Parker insisted that Inktober would always be free, though he asked that those who wanted to sell or market art made for Inktober follow a few rules:
- Don’t use the Inktober logo.
- Use of the word Inktober and year (i.e., “Inktober 2022”) is entirely okay.
- Do not use Inktober in the lead title of a book, collection, etc.
- Instead, you may use it as a subtitle (i.e., “Via Inktober 2022 prompts” or “Courtesy of Inktober 2022 prompts”).
The Inktober rules (official or otherwise) are simple: Draw something with ink, share it anywhere with anyone, and do it every day for the whole month. (And if that’s too much, that’s fine – draw one every week, or every other day, or only the prompts you’re most interested in – it’s all about practice and consistency.)
Also, Inktober can be done digitally – as long as you’re using some version of ink as a medium, it counts!
Parker’s statement was reassuring for many, and participation in the official Inktober challenge remains high. The Inktober copyright only applies to sold art, and the use rules are simple, as shown above – meaning you can draw (and post) without worry.
So how do these alternate art challenges work? The general concept is the same: find a prompt list that you want to follow and draw away! A quick search through your social media platform of choice for October art challenge prompts will turn up dozens of fun ideas and cute graphics, and you’re allowed and encouraged to mix and match however you like.
The real question of Inktober alternatives is where to find the community. There are quite a few options out there – check out the links above to some of the most well-known ones. Since October is right around the corner, there are already a lot of prompt lists up and ready for you.
CO2ign Art’s October Art Challenge Prompts
We love challenges like these, and think they’re the best part of the month of October (you know, after candy) – we get to see so many fun images and styles, and they’re a great opportunity to find new artists to follow. We wanted to get in on the fun, so came up with our own list of 31 prompts, split into four roughly-week-long categories.
So if you’re looking for a prompt list to work from this October, why not give our natural-world-themed prompts a look!
Full Prompt Schedule
If you draw for any of these, we’d love it if you used the week-specific hashtags – we’d really want to see what you’ve done! We’ll also be retweeting anything we come across, and you can tag with #CO2ignArtChallenge or @co2ign to make extra sure we see it!
1-8 October: Shrimp!
- 01 Sat: Pink
- 02 Sun: Ghost
- 03 Mon: Vampire
- 04 Tues: Punch
- 05 Wed: Cocktail
- 06 Thurs Gulf
- 07 Fri: Fried Rice
- 08 Sat: Iridescence
9-15 October: Rock & Crystal
- 09 Sun: Rose
- 10 Mon: Fracture
- 11 Tues: Precious
- 12 Wed: Fossil
- 13: Thurs Weather
- 14 Fri: Groove
- 15 Sat: Iridescence
16-22 October: Skinks!
- 16 Sun: Blue
- 17 Mon: Variant
- 18 Tues: Fire
- 19 Wed: Garden
- 20 Thurs: Decoy
- 21 Fri: Family
- 22 Sat: Iridescence
23-31 October: Cacti & Succulents
- 23 Sun: Ombre
- 24 Mon: Dragon
- 25 Tues: Bloom
- 26 Wed: Nomad
- 27 Thurs: Dust
- 28 Fri: Cover
- 29 Sat: Iridescence
- 30 Sun: Spine
- 31 Mon: Bubbly