Introduction to Inktober 2020
Tomorrow begins the yearly art challenge known as Inktober, which I have done for the last several years. In it, artists try to produce an ink drawing every day and share it on social media as a way to practice skills, experiment with new ones, and hold themselves to a schedule. The official Inktober site lists daily prompts as inspiration, but artists often follow their own themes; I myself once did drawings of cars every day. This year, I’m doing something different and I thought you deserved advance notice.
Sometime in early 2017, I made a decision to keep politics out of my Facebook and Instagram feeds.
Do you remember that time?
The pain from the election was still fresh; the new President was living down to expectations, although we had no idea yet how bad things could be. I was tired, disillusioned, and depressed, and I figured lots of other people were, too. I didn’t think I could make a difference posting outraged stories and rants, and when I did, I got taunted by “friends” who gloated over Clinton’s defeat and the end of the Obama era. (Coincidentally, that was when I first started unfriending people like that. No connection, I’m sure.)
So for the next 3.5 years I kept my opinions (mostly) to myself, and I populated my feed with funny, awesome, or beautiful things, hoping people would find some comfort or relief from the shitshow that our country was becoming. Maybe you followed me and got a laugh or a pretty picture inserted into your day. I hope so. You may even have seen my Inktober entries from that time.
This year, Inktober once again has the distinction of taking place during the runup to the Presidential election. In fact, due to the pandemic, much of the voting will be taking place during October. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that this election is the most important one in my lifetime. After the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and countless others, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the ugliness of the federal and public responses to them, I found it difficult to post funny or beautiful things anymore. It just seemed dismissive and frivolous. I started posting about politics again.
Now, with election day a month away, I find myself thinking the same thing. I’d love nothing more than to draw and post fantasy art, or cars, or cartoons using the Inktober prompts…but how do I do that when we seem to be facing the greatest challenge American democracy has ever seen? It’s fiddling while Rome burns. I can’t do it.
I’m not a fiery public speaker. I’m not cut out to face rubber bullets and tear gas. I’m not a civic leader or a lawmaker or a celebrity who has millions of followers. I’m an overweight middle-aged cishet white guy of the kind who got us into this mess. But I can draw, a little. So that’s what I’m going to do.
This Inktober I’ll be drawing whatever my skills will allow to support the right side of history. For the next month my Facebook and Instagram feed will be clogged with black and white drawings that will encourage votes for Biden and Harris, that will call out unacceptable behavior from our current President, that will depict uncomfortable topics but also inspirational moments and people from America’s history, that might not be well known but should be. I’m not going to be fair. I’m not going to be objective. I’m not going to listen if you disagree with me. If you disagree, make your own art and post it.
Share these if you want; they’ll all be public. Ignore them if you want. Snooze me or unfollow me or whatever. I hope that come election day I’ll be able to celebrate a return to more frivolous posts, and I hope you’ll be there with me.