This month I have been taking part in a multitude of drawing challenges. Namely the following Instagram drawing challenges for October 2018:
For those unfamiliar the challenges consist of prompts created by a variety of instagram artists of varying instafame (I think it’s fair to say that) from Inktober being the daddy of them all to #superradhalloweenchallenge seeming a shiny new and fun development.
Self styled cool kid Craig Gleason is responsible for The Season of the Bad Guys Club and every artist’s biggest girl crush Mab Graves brings the tour de force that is #mabsdrawlloween challenge. The aim is that you take a prompt for everyday of the month October and create an illustration for it that you post on your instagram using the hashtag.
It seems fitting that in the final days of this year’s challenge (also my first!) that I reflect on the last month’s work.
And the winner is…
Mab’s Drawlloween Club was the winner for me and I completed Mab’s prompts on the vast majority of the days. It’s not just that her prompts appealed to me but also that seeing the variety of ways she responded to the prompts (yes I know that she wrote them!) was totally inspiring. Seeing her drawings, felt creations, photography and dolls blew me away and made me want to push myself too. I have also always been someone who feels an intense desire to make things out of EVERYTHING. Paper, digital, clay, textiles and even stuff destined for the bin. Mab inspired me to feature a few knitted, diorama and sculpted pieces throughout the challenges as well as pen drawings and digital art.
Unfortunately what I also discovered was that Inktober does not seem to be for me. I only ever covered it a couple of days. In the context of the others it was just harder to get excited about. Who wants to draw something ‘tranquil’ or ‘flowing’ when there’s another prompt next door with Yokai or Cryptids? I know which one I’m going to do. But then this in itself gets me thinking for next year. Often I find myself someone who finds staying in their comfort zone the most uncomfortable thing to do. I feel like I’m taking the easy way or not challenging myself enough.
Ultimately, isn’t it most useful as a freelance illustrator to encourage ourselves to practice gleaning creativity from a prompt (or brief) that might not immediately inspire us? I for one seem to be deciding too quickly and could that mean I am missing out on inspiration and opportunities that are there, just hidden a little deeper? Part of it was also my own intention to focus on improving my digital skills which I really think I did ( check out my instagram and decide for yourself!)
It’s a commitment
One overwhelming thing that I found was that the challenges were addictive and invigorating! I had read and heard that the challenges are exhausting, as if this is some necessary evil to progress. However, despite hitting some brick walls along the way in terms of approaching prompts I always found that inspiration came and I delivered something each day. Some days I even managed to cover up to 3 prompts (and I cannot begin to tell you what a busy month it was for me outside of these challenges too, when you’re truly excited and inspired by something you can always make some time and energy for it). I would definitely recommend doing at least one of these challenges to any artist in 2019 as a way to find new artists as well as a way to practice and hone your own style too.