Inktober at DesignThink

In October 2009, artist and illustrator Jake Parker began Inktober, a yearly challenge to draw each day in October to practice and develop drawing skills and habits. For the last four years I have joined in on this process, attempting to hone different abilities and push myself creatively.

Though we draw often at work, Inktober is a chance to branch out and try different styles, render methods, and mindsets while being in a low-stakes environment – something we don’t often get at work. The list of prompts for Inktober, being odd words like “poisonous,” “scorched,” and “swollen”, force artists out of their comfort zone and into a more explorative creative space.

Erin and Julia sketch “scorched” at a local bar.

At DesignThink, we have the benefit of being in a highly cross-collaborative workspace, which is especially apparent in our brainstorm sessions.  In conversations with coworkers from other disciplines, they expressed that, while in brainstorms, it can be difficult to get one’s ideas across quickly and effectively. Enter our cross-functional Inktober. This was a way for all of us to branch out, to draw in a no pressure environment and be able to collaborate on a simpler level. It’s also just nice to get together as a company over lunch to decompress and build camaraderie while drawing – even if it’s melty cheese slices.

Some of the DesignThink team sketching over lunch on the last day of Inktober.

As someone who largely started drawing in college, it was interesting to see my own hang-ups with creativity being reflected in my coworkers, some afraid of “not doing it right” and perfectionism running rampant. The ability to encourage others to feel comfortable with making mistakes, and not creating a masterpiece in one sitting, was a nice reminder to myself to do the same. Ultimately, that comfort and ease can build confidence and, while in this setting especially, an understanding among coworkers who may not be in more “creative” fields.

Below are a few of our final Inktober sketches.

Final drawings from across the team for “Slice”.
“Cruel” by Lindsay.
“Star” by Lindsay.
“Stretch” by Erin K.
“Tranquil” by Jon.
“Poisonous” by Jon.
“Poisonous” by Evan.

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