The Purpose of Art Challenges

Finding out the reason why artists create art challenges.


Donna Li

You do not need professional art materials in order to start an art challenge. These are the materials and an entry that I did for Inktober 2018.

If you have ever been a part of the art community, you may understand what an art challenge is. An artist imposes guidelines, giving them a certain idea to create their art for a set amount of time. What purpose do these challenges serve?

You have most likely encountered art challenges while scrolling through social media. Chances are you have encountered the work of an artist participating in an art challenge, whether it be DTIYS (Draw This In Your Style) or a 20 Art Styles challenge, where an artist chooses to draw a single picture in the style of other artists. To an average person, you might give the post a like or a favorite, and move on without a second glance, but to an artist, you might become interested in following up on these challenges. Whichever way you discovered it, art challenges unite diverse artists in order to share their work with the rest of the world. 

To learn about the purpose of art challenges, let us take a look at one of the most popular ones: Inktober. Jake Parker created Inktober in 2009 where he drew a picture with ink every day of October 2020. This challenge was created to enforce good drawing habits and to improve one’s inking skills. Inktober has now grown to be a worldwide phenomenon, being one of the most popular and well known art challenges.

Of course there are hundreds of popular challenges besides Inktober, but it is the initial purpose of this art challenge that we should examine. Does this initial purpose still hold up when applying to the many artists who participate in this challenge?

After surveying participants of art challenges at The Bronx High School of Science, it was recorded that only 83.3% of the participants felt as though they had improved in their artistic skill. When asked about the purpose of art challenges such as Inktober, the general consensus was that the purpose was a combination of enjoyment, improvement, and engagement with the art community.  “I firmly believe the purpose of any art challenge is to engage the artist in a creatively challenging way. Art challenges should be fun, and many 30-a-day challenges require skill and pacing to complete as well as a healthy dose of creativity,” said Terri Lam ’22. On the same topic, Ruby Moran ’24 said, “I think the purpose of art challenges are to challenge artists with all of these different prompts they could try out, to give them something to draw and to share.”

When asked about the purpose of art challenges when asked about why art challenges were so popular and their appeal, there was almost an unanimous answer: engagement with the community. “I think the appeal of these challenges is that it involves a community of people who are able to share their work with each other. It also encourages artists to draw every day, which could help with improvement,” said Alwi Azara ’24 . Scarlett Hu ’21 responded, “It’s something that people you know and don’t know can do and talk about it together. It’s also cool to see what you can do with the restrictions and cool to see other people’s art.”

While the original purpose of art challenges like Inktober is intended to focus on evolving personal skill, it is undeniable that these art challenges really gained popularity because of the large art community that participated in them. These art challenges are now a tactic for artists to join together and to share their art on public platforms, whether this is for self improvement or for entertainment.

“It’s something that people you know and don’t know can do and talk about it together. It’s also cool to see what you can do with the restrictions and cool to see other people’s art,” said Scarlett Hu ’21.