Arts & Culture

A Community for Creatives: Superstorm

By Ethan Horst

Matthew Bliss, a third-year visual communication design major and illustration minor, changed his life through Instagram. During his first year at Grace, he was scrolling through his feed and noticed many of the best pieces of art shared a hashtag: #inktober. After the bare minimum of research, he was sold and immediately joined the movement.

Inktober is a month-long challenge for artists. In 2009, Jake Parker challenged himself to create an ink drawing for every day in the month of October. Since then, his personal challenge has expanded to a worldwide community of thousands of artists. Bliss described Inktober as “discovery and development.” Participants follow three simple rules every day for a month: first, create an ink drawing, either traditionally or digitally, second, post it to social media, third, add #inktober and, this year, #inktober2018. Parker creates a list of prompts for every year to help artists generate ideas. It can be found at inktober.com/rules. Participants are not required to follow every prompt, but they are encouraged to do so.

The first year Bliss participated in Inktober, he finished six of the 31 days. When he was trying to catch up from day 7 on Oct. 11, he gave up. “It was disheartening,” he said. “Part of the problem was that I was working alone.” The lack of mentorship and accountability, coupled with a lack of experience in ink drawing, meant that he had very little motivation to complete the challenge.

His second year at Grace, Bliss was determined to succeed. He had more education as a creator and, through his Creative Arts and Culture class, he had a group of like-minded individuals. “It felt good to even think about organizing,” Bliss said. “By the time Inktober came, I had been pumping people up for it.” He also benefited from the research on equipment and techniques he had done. Parker created videos showing his inking process, and Bliss took full advantage of the free education. In addition, switching to a brush pen cut down the time each piece took immensely.

For the upcoming year, Bliss wants to share his experiences with others. “A connected community of creatives is one of the most powerful tools you can have,” Bliss said. “But the creative community at Grace isn’t all that connected.” Some of the challenges come from Grace’s location. Warsaw and Winona Lake can isolate artists from organic input and mentorship.

To correct that, Bliss is launching an organization called Superstorm to encourage community between creatives on Grace College campus; Inktober is being used to kickstart the community. “It’s a chance to learn you can do something you didn’t think you could,” Bliss said. “When you just have to do, not think, because you have a deadline, you have to develop skills you already have. You can’t focus on theorizing.” Those interested can meet twice before Inktober begins and will make a trip to Fort Wayne for art supplies. “Going in to a dedicated art store is one of the most magical experiences,” Bliss said.

For more information, contact Matthew Bliss at blissmg@grace.edu, or find Superstorm @gc_superstorm on Instagram and Facebook.

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