Inktober and the Grave Copyright Scandal

By: Tra’ Viona Smith and Kayla Bauserman


This art was made by Andrey LaBrague in 2020 for the inktober theme fish.




Inktober is a drawing challenge created by Jake Parker in 2009 as a way to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

This year, the Inktober drawing challenge has continued even though we are all learning online. The Inktober challenge is where students can look at a list of prompts, one for each day leading up to Halloween. They must then create an ink drawing and submit it online.

Unfortunately, since online learning started, the amount of people who participated was nowhere near to when school was in person. To provide further insight on this, art teacher Maria Anagnostou commented that “Student participation was way higher when we were in school in person. Students could see me working on my sketches and that motivated them to want to participate as well. When we were done work early or when we were in National Art Honors Society or whatever, kids would pick up a paper and get to it. I have had a couple students do a few drawings now, but nowhere like it was in the past”. Transitioning to online learning was very difficult for a lot of students and the workload can be overwhelming.

The toll on students’ mental health could have been a reason for the lack of participation, but there is another reason why students may not have been as inclined to participate. An anonymous student said that “I’ve tried but I lost interest, I lose track of the days. It’s fun to others but I’m not a big fan of drawing with a prompt”.

Being in quarantine may be inspiring students to explore their creativity and find new hobbies, so coming up with ideas themselves could be more interesting than using a prompt.

Another reason for a lack of participation this year is the Inktober copyright scandal. Parker created Inktober in 2009, and after years of having Inktober spread throughout the world he decided to create a copyright claim. Inktober had become a worldwide event because of other artists sharing the idea of following prompts to create ink drawings in October. However, the activity created for artists to participate in was hijacked by the creator of Inktober himself.

At first it seemed reasonable for him to have a copyright claim since he is the creator, yet over time he began to manage what others were using Inktober for way to closely. For example, he prevented authors from publishing books with Inktober as part of the title. These authors and artists were the very same ones which helped to spread the word about Inktober and make it popular. This copyright claim created a divide in the art community, some artists siding with him and others boycotting Inktober completely.

On Parker’s website he states that his intentions are not to stop other artists from profiting from their Inktober drawings, he just wants them to follow the guidelines of his copyright claim. This may have been believable if Alphonso Dunn had not released a YouTube video exposing how Parker had copied the contents of his book and released it in a different format.

He compared his book ‘Pen and Ink Drawing’ to the Inktober prompts and they were almost exactly the same. Naturally, Parker went on to deny that he had plagiarized Dunn’s work, claiming that since they were both focused on ink drawing, they were bound to be similar.

Anagnostou said “I was really disappointed to learn what I did about Jake Parker and the issues behind Inktober. It definitely changes my perception of the challenge, and I think that I am not going to promote it like I once did. Thankfully, it is easy to find many other prompt lists to follow and keep up the fun! “Inktober” can still be a yearly practice with or without him being the head of it”.

This year the Inktober challenge was a flop, yet the artists who want to have a fun October drawing challenge can do it without supporting Parker. Together, they could even create a new challenge!


Photo Source-  Andrey LaBrague (student at Owings Mills High school).



‘The Telescope’, article name ‘The Entire Inktober Controversy’ by Alexis  Espinoza.

‘Digital Arts Online’, article name  ‘Is Inktober in Peril? By Giacomo Lee.

‘Mr. Jake,’ article name ‘A Statement About Inktober by Jake Parker’.