In midst of ‘Inktober’ controversy, artists find alternatives

PLAGIARISM CONTROVERSY. Artists of varying media are troubled when Jake Parker, the creator, and owner of Inktober- an annual drawing challenge during the month of October- sparked some copyright issues and is accused of plagiarizing Alphonso Dunn’s book, “Pen & Ink Drawing” (2016), leading to many debates and alternatives to this upcoming year.

Article, Photo, and Art by Emily Lasley

Inktober is a worldwide ink drawing event for artists of many media to participate in. This annual event was loved and anticipated by many, until the creator of Inktober, Jake Parker, tainted it himself through plagiarism and copyright issues. The goal of Inktober was for an artist to draw something with ink for each day in October to improve an individual’s art skills. Inktober became so popular that many social media platforms were filled with Inktober drawings left and right. Some platforms, such as DeviantArt, offered awards and contests for Inktober drawings. 

In 2017, however, Parker and his lawyers enforced a trademark for Inktober. As a result, artists wanting to sell their original inktober art online were getting cease and desist e-mails (A letter claiming that the item can no longer be sold), claiming that they were unable to further sell and produce their art books because of copyright claims (someone telling that you used their content without permission) towards Inktober. This event broke the art community; many artists were furious about the sudden trademark that was being enforced due to the fact that Inktober had always been a public-held event. Other artists believe that Parker should be able to have more rights towards Inktober, ultimately leading to a split debate in the art community. Eventually, Parker enforced rules to submitting Inkober products online, attempting to find an in-between so that artists could sell their art online, as long as the artist adheres to his rules.

In more recent years, a well-accomplished award-winning artist, Alphonso Dunn, accused Jake Parker of plagiarizing his book, “Pen & Ink Drawing” (2016) in 2020.  Dunn made a YouTube video explaining what he believed to be plagiarism, showing a side-by-side comparison of his book and Parker’s book. This event brought upon a heated debate and an even bigger split within the art community. Some artists shrugged it off, believing it was all a mere coincidence, while other artists, such as Ethan Becker, a visual director, and popular Instagramer, believe that there are too many noticeable similarities between the two books. It got to the point where the artist platform DeviantArt, has been canceled and will no longer continue Inktober contests or rewards.

Although Inktober isn’t canceled, the number of people participating has significantly decreased. Many of the artists created alternatives to replace Inktober such as INKTober, Drawlloween, Darktober, Witchtober and many more. Each and every alternative has its own rules and creative interpretations. If you were looking for a challenge that brings about personal growth and creativity, I would highly recommend looking into the different alternatives that this community has to offer; you might surprise yourself with the results.

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