Inktober 2021

by George Y. Kussumoto

I've decided to participate in the Inktober challenge by doing sketches using p5js. Here a few notes about my experience. If you never heard of it: it's a month-long set of prompts. You do one drawing each day of October, and share them using the challenge hashtag.

Here are the 2021 themes:

inktober 2021 prompts

The process

I took 1-2h per day to do the sketches. My working hours are kind of odd, so most of them were submitted "around" the right day (I guess it was the right day somewhere in the planet). However, there were days when I just couldn't do it and days when I just did more than one to compensate, usually on the weekends.

My process were very simple: read the prompt, draft some ideas on paper (yes, real paper) and/or find some "inspiration" (cof , cof) on Pinterest when needed. Then it's coding time, finishing with some color adjustments, and finally hitting the save button on OpenProcessing.

A final note about the process is that I'm doing a course on creative coding since late August, as such, there was a lot of overlap/influence between the two. So, yeah, I'm pretty new to the whole thing in general, so keep your expectations in check (if any).

inktober - fuzzy


In a few words, my Inktober experience was:

Stressful, sometimes boring, and I asked myself a lot if I should keep doing or not. But surprisingly, some days were just blast amazing.

inktober - tick

How so?

Saving 1-2h each day is a lot. It does not sound like much, but it is. Combined with my work, it's 10h sitting on front of the computer per day. That worsened my already bad sleeping patterns. Ouch.

Some prompts just don't click at the moment. I'm not so sure if it's only about the moment or in general, but the struggle is real. Some days I just did for the sake of doing, nothing else.

At the very beginning, you just have to let go about the execution quality. That's the first thing that I learned from this experience. And, it's not like I was trying to do stuff with "quality", that's probably impossible at my stage even if tried really hard. The thing is, if you spend a lot of time on code, there's less time to think about the prompt. I simply didn't have time because I've already spent on "what the h* with this prompt!" phase.

The cycle repeats on the next day, so it was basically a whole month of "oh, crap".

And this is so valuable, it's hard to put on words. I guess it's the old "done is better than perfect". At some point, it became like a little ritual, and despite being a little burned out by the experience, a piece of me miss that.

There's also the point that we are at COVID-19 times and there were a lot of rainy days here. So, very little motivation to go outside anyway, certainly narrowed down the excuse alternatives.

Everyone reacts differently, off course, but if you have second thoughts on taking the challenge, consider the chance of it might backfire on you.

I'll not lie, I thought a lot about how I was embarrassing myself. How bad the outputs were, and so forth. I'm surprised that I did it all to the end, honestly. The last week was pretty much by inertia, but it gets better than this, eventually.

inktober - spirit

Now, moving on to the bright side.

As I said before, I was doing a course on creative coding, and because of the Inktober challenge, I got to experiment with a lot of things that wasn't covered in the course. It also worked as extra practices to everything that I was learning, so I feel that it deepened my knowledge by orders of magnitude.

Similar to how we learn a second language, I think we need to spend some energy to do the most obvious, uninteresting things, and common mistakes before move forward. After you just let go the fact that you are doing "art" (how pretentious), everything feels more meaningful - like a necessary step to the next step.

The prompts itself, they are not inherently good, but the key thing is taking some time to think in stuff that you would never spend a second on normally. That's the meat of this challenge in my opinion. I mentioned before that some prompts didn't click at all, but some were figured out in 5 seconds, and I was quite pleased to implement it exactly how my mind conceived the thing. Needless to say, it feels superb, certainly a different path to get "in the zone".

There's also the wow factor. At some point you are just writing bad code because of a tight deadline, and then you run your little design... and, oh, you made a mistake. But it looks so interesting! Yes, there were a few instances of these "happy accidents".

Accidentally or not, some outputs just put a smile on your face. You feel proud about yourself. Pure. Magic.

After doing the 31 sketches, I feel that I have a lot of good starting points. A lot of ideas that I want to explore a bit more, squeeze that juicy idea to the full potential. The happy accidents, that math magic, a new artist, books, and a whole world to explore. All too exciting, but first a need of some days to rest (perhaps more than a few).

Final note about the challenge: I'm considering to create a healthy version of this, and maybe selecting some prompts more friendly to generative art. Let me know if you have any thoughts on this, or if you know existing alternatives.

inktober - roof


If you are planning to do the challenge, my advice is: push and respect yourself, not the challenge. I'll be the first to admit that it is fun to share stuff that you do on the internet, but keep making it work for you first.

I've shared some Inktober sketches in this post, but if you are curious to see them all, here's a link to it.

~ 🤘 Have fun!