Over the last few days, I had noticed a number of artists that I follow on social media posting their creations with the hashtag #inktober. I was drawn in each day seeing their new and fresh creations. Any kind of freehand drawing has always fascinated me as, despite my love for art, unfortunately I have never felt that drawing was something I could do. One of the artists that I thought was doing some of the most technically skilled and interesting pieces just happened to be the drummer of my band during the mid 1990s. Still a good friend, I decided to message him to find out more about it.
I asked him why he had started the #inktober challenge.
"Inktober has been going for a few years now, but I only came across it this year (on October the 1st) when an old Art College friend, Nicola, (#nic_parsons_art) posted up her day one image on Facebook." Ross told me. "Immediately I was transported back to the early naughties when I skinnier, more time rich me would spend hours sketching and doodling and pawing over other people's artwork. Nicola and her then boyfriend (now husband) Adam (#Captainaccident) were huge inspirations for me back in college: I realised how much I missed the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you can achieve from producing a simple, quick sketch.. I had also forgotten how agonising the process can be!"
Ross is one of those fortunate people who, as an architect, he gets to use his creative skill everyday. However, he told me that the #inktober challenge was an opportunity for him to "draw for the love of drawing".
Inktober gives the artist each day a word which forms the basis of the inspiration. Ross talked to me about some of the pieces that he created and how he made the prompt word very personal to him. For example, the very first word prompt was 'ring'. "The most precious thing I own. My wedding ring." Ross told me. "I didn't have to think about this one, as soon as I saw the prompt I knew what I would draw. This one object symbolises my proudest achievement in life; being happy and sharing that happiness with somebody whom I admire and respect above and beyond anyone else. Also, being my first sketch in.. a long time.. it was back to drawing school lesson 1: sketching the hand!"
And it appears that even I inspired him. The day I got in touch with him to do this feature he was given the word 'frail'. Ross told me: "I wanted to question the perception of ageing and fragility; so when my favorite Riotgrrrl blogger happend to message me that morning I knew exactly where this would take me. An ageing punk who is anything but frail! (not that you're ageing!!) (Thanks Ross, I might be getting on, but I certainly feel younger and stronger each day! ha, ha)
Over the last few days he has produced some truly amazing pieces. As a snowboarder he has captured the feeling of "flying on a magic carpet" in his sketch 'enchanted'. The snow also a key feature in other creations, where he depicts his family playing up in the snow on the Roaches. He also told me the story behind the inspiration for 'husky' when he managed to go husky mushing a few years ago, even though he had a serious JD hangover.
My personal favourite, (apart from the one I inspired) is his ink sketch with the inspiration word 'Mindless'. Pictured below, Ross has created his self-portrait in the screen of a mobile phone, where he believes that when he stares at his phone, his mind switches off as he looks into the "bottomless void" of the device. He continues: "I often feel life can pass you by whilst you're staring into the black hole of social media, but this challenge shows it can also be an incredibly positive tool to motivate and engage people."
But like most other creative pursuits, the obsession is there. Ross has been waking up each morning already thinking about the challenge for the day. But aren't we all a bit like that. When you have an outlet, a creative challenge, there has to be an element of obsession or maybe insanity that drives us towards producing something better, something that says more about us or the world we live in. "It is literally all I have thought about since beginning the challenge. I wake up in the morning and immediately start thinking about the day's prompt. I've found that what ends up on paper is far removed from my initial thoughts and ideas. I've also taken time to watch some tutorials and time lapses of other artists at work, which has expanded my toolbox of techniques; I've a long way to go yet, but on a very personal, and small level I feel I am developing everyday."
You can follow Ross on Instagram for the rest of the month. I asked him what he would do after. It appears that the 1st November, Ross is going to be catching up on the washing -up as he feels bad that maybe he hasn't dedicated enough time this month to his domestic duties! But he also said that "I hope to carry on sketching on a daily basis and to continue to develop my skills, but perhaps knock it down to 10 minute sketches."
I'm really excited to see what he comes up with.
Thanks for chatting to me Ross. Follow him on Instagram @rossdamouseankers.