The Power of Creative Challenges

Every year during the month of October, artists from around the world participate in a drawing challenge called Inktober. Since its creation in 2009 by artist Jake Parker, the Inktober challenge has grown in popularity, with thousands of artists participating. The rules are simple: create an ink drawing every day during October and post them on social media with the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017.

Years ago I was turned on to the idea of creative challenges by participating in the 48-Hour Film Festival in Seattle. As the name implies, teams would have to produce—from concept to final edit—a completed film in 48 hours. Around the same time, I heard about the 24-hour comic challenge where participants must create a 24-page comic book within that timeframe.

More recently, I was introducted to the Dune Mini-comic night at a local Seattle cafe. This long-running artist meetup was created by Max Clotfelter and is now run by Marc Palm. The theme is to draw a one-page comic in four hours, with the one major rule stating that artists must start and finish their work that same night. Participants then pay 2-3 dollars to receive a printed copy of that month’s issue the next time they attend the meetup.

Having attended a half dozen or so of the Dune nights, I can say it’s an amazing experience to see artists occupying every available space working diligently on their contribution. The best part is picking up your copy of Dune and seeing all the drawings people produced the month before.

If you have never participated in a creative challenge, I highly suggest it. Beyond the fun of accepting a challenge, these events help build camaraderie and community among creatives. Whether in person or online, individuals often find inspiration in the work of other participants and have a sounding board to gain constructive feedback of their work. Creative challenges also help with motivation, something many artists have difficulty sustaining.

In 2017, creative challenges have definitely caught on and there are now a large variety of mediums to choose from. If you are at all creative, chances are you can find a challenge to fit your craft. If you cannot locate a local gathering in your area, consider starting one of your own. They don’t have to be a big production or involve tons of people. Recently I started a story writing group with a few friends. Every few weeks to a month, we decide on a word count, amount of time needed and the deadline for submission. On the day of the writing deadline, we email each other our short stories for review. We then take several days to critique each other’s stories and then meet at a local bar to share our thoughts over a drink. We’re now on our third story and it’s going well. The feedback I’ve received from the first two meetups has been incredibly valuable toward helping with my writing.

Whether you join an ongoing challenge or start your own, I would love to hear about your experiences. Below I’ve created a short list of online challenges. Feel free to message me or post a comment if you like me to promote one that’s not on the list.

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