over the edge
over the edge is a work inspired by inktober, an artistic challenge that has been going viral for over ten years on Instagram. It is a yearly event the brings together artists around the world. Jake Parker created the original version, but there are now hundreds of variations.
The principle is simple: every year Parker (and other artists) issues a series of 31 prompts, or themes. One prompt per day of October. One ink drawing per day. There is nothing to win, nothing to lose - it is just for the pleasure of drawing, and honing your skills in the meantime.
For inktober 2020, I decided to throw myself a big challenge: I usually draw, or paint, on smaller formats. This year, I went big! The paper I used is B2 size (50 x 70 cm - 19.7 x 27.6 in). This great challenge created the work over the edge.
You might be here because you bought one of the limited edition prints of this work I made. If so, thank you! Below you will find a detail of all the prompts in the final product, and a bit of backstory for each.
If you don't have your own copy and wish to purchase one, click on the button below! You can even get it personalised, to make it absolutely unique.
That's what I was facing this year! The idea of bringing all this together was slightly unnerving
let's get to it!
This first day was all about getting familiar again with the material, and trying to work out what kind of style I wanted to work with this year. I went with clean lines and a rather minimal approach (which didn't last for long).
Did you know that a group of snipes is called a wisp? I didn’t. Browsing the Merriam-Webster was a good idea for this one. I quite like snipes, they always look slightly embarrassed, and I can relate. Can you guess why that one on the top right looks so proud?
It's called fashion, sweetie, look it up.
This one took more effort and reflection than the previous prompts. I am a great fan of the story books by Claude Ponti. His stories and witty, and his illustrations are simply great. His works greatly inspire mine, and I like to think there is a bit of him in here.
Sure, high tech is great, but have you seen old, wooden radios? These are actual works of art!
This tree looked so innocent, but doesn’t this pattern on the (blades of the) leaves remind you of... razor blades? Autumn must be ouch. Also: pun.
The radio tree was ancient. No one really knew how old, as it looked like it were always here. Over time, its leaves grew to be sharper and sharper, almost like razor blades, to stop birds from coming too close, and have their own songs go against the radio it protected.
As I was browsing the Internet looking for rodents to get inspired from, I fell upon the Japanese momonga flying squirrel. Have you seen anything more adorable? Another proof that Japanese people have monopoly over cuteness! These look like real like Pokemon.
Can you guess what this little guy on the left is doing?
When Therebente von Rocambole was invited to a dance by a certain Desmond Beaulieu, she was not impressed. Men never seemed to grow up to be gentlemen, she thought. They would always end up sneaking their hands in the most unbecoming places, and become less than courteous. Yet when she arrived under the music tree and saw he was practically wearing a feather boa on his hat, she was instantaneously at ease. Desmond would be... a friend.
Also: don’t some of these lotus plants look a bit odd to you?
Well, more TOOTH than TEETH. Although it would be quite fun to imagine these little momonga squirrel living along a jaw, like people do in British suburbs.
I hope no one seeing this is a dentist.
Sometimes if you want to fly you need a little help... like a friend who’s willing to catapult you into the unknown.
This whole throwing system looks a little precarious. No one can tell how long this tooth will last, but by the looks of these cracks... no much longer.
So THAT’S what this little guy was doing! One mystery solved!
For some reason, this one was very difficult to figure out! Illustrating the concept of hope without harping on about the same clichés was quite the exercise. Luckily this compromise allowed me to announce a later prompt.
If you follow news and articles around inktober, you'll know there was a lot of controversy around it this year, and one of them was around this particular prompt, as some thought it would enable some hate speech.
I for one was very excited about it, as it was the perfect excuse to draw a monster! One of the monster artists I look up to is John Kenn Mortensen. His renderings are positively... disgusting?
It was said that if the Beast trapped you in its lair, you were done for. Not only it would eat you, it would also swallow your soul, and condemn you to err in the tunnels of the Underground forever.
Look, that night did not start off well for Dmitry Rostenpowicz. His date was early and the tailor was late, and how UNBECOMING to greet a woman in a cashmere robe! Then she was the absolute worst dancer?! Determined to dance what she called ‘La macarena’ of whatever THAT was to Schubert??
And now this?! Falling into this wet, slimy, slippery hole? What a...
Is that a wig detaching itself from Ultrogotte Trucmachinchouette?! A WIG? When she spent the whole night saying she was a natural blonde. The nerve! The audacity!
Every time. Every time I start something that requires stippling I’m enthusiastic for about twelve seconds. Then the whole tasks seems daunting. Then I want to stipple my corneas. WHY DO I DO THIS?!
Anyway. Dot work seemed like a good idea because, you know, sand.
There’s this trope in movies where one of the characters is like « no way we’re doing this », then next second they’re doing that exact thing. Always makes me laugh, except when I do it to myself.
Nothing too sophisticated for this prompt, just a little character design which will prove useful in further prompts.
An interesting occasion to work on texture renderings, through, especially the metal of the armour.
For as long as one could remember this odd structure had been there, towering over the desert. Was it stone, was it wood? No one knew. It was rugged yet smooth, hard yet always warm to the touch.
Over the years it served a variety of purposes but was mostly used as an outpost, a way to gaze over the dunes. From the first beliefs surrounding its origins it kept the nickname “The Hand of the Golem”.
Always fun to try experimenting and creating textures that don't exist!
Not very good at drawing machines, rockets, spaceships, or anything that requires straight, clear lines. Fortunately, it is also the name of a salad! Rocket, or arugula, or even alfalfa in French! Not sure why it has so many names. It' definitely an acquired taste, but I love it!
Ok not gonna lie, I’m quite happy with how this one turned out. It’s quite relevant of who I am in the sense that I changed style halfway through the prompt and then it was too late to go back... anyway. After spending [censored] hours on this, I have a renewed respect for all etching and illustration artists in the likes of Gustave Doré and all line artists like Franklin Booth. These guys were crazy (crazy good).
It’s one of these prompts where I got to push the limits a little, so while I complained my way through, it’s good (and a relief) to see it completed.
Remember these delicately arranged lotus leaves next to our dancing couple on day 7: FANCY? It’s a trap! The same trap that our ill-arranged couple from day 12: SLIPPERY fell in! It’s ALL a trap! A trap set by the Beast from day 11: DISGUSTING. See how things are all starting to come together?
The real trap though is thinking I’m out of the woods... a dozen more to go!
Funny, because this prompt was already used last year. You can see what I did with it in the "prints" section, as it's been printed too!
Ever since entering this cave, Dr. Archibald Howard Birtwistle had a strange feeling. He had been following a trail of mushrooms getting bigger and bigger, and now that they towered taller than oaks, he was starting to feel a little... dizzy. Or light-headed at least. Was it him, or the ground was slightly undulating? And weren’t the mushrooms changing colours?
One of the first experiments of Dr. Archibald Howard Birtwistle was with coral. He was fascinated by these creatures and the elegant shapes they could produce. However, terrified of water he could not for the life of him dive to see some. Determined to overcome this upsetting situation, he managed to create hybrids that would grow above-ground. All was well until they started reproducing at an alarming rate, and very soon earth-corals were everywhere...
All had heard the horrible tales of the Beast. From the youngest age, children were taught to behave, or else...
Everybody had forgotten that the Underground harboured more than one Beast on the Ancient Times. Most were simply asleep, waiting for their time. Some benevolent, some other more terrible and petrifying than words could ever say.
Aubyn McCarthy was mesmerised by this chef. He had so much charisma when slicing and filleting, such uniqueness, nerve and talent when boiling, broiling and pickling... and his name —what was his name again? MaurrRrice. Rolled on the tongue like silk.
While Aubyn was lost in thoughts and in sauce, Domitille de Montpareil just realised that Ultrogotte Trucmachinchouette, here best frenemy ever, was... gone? She was standing right there and then... poof?! What was that about? And where did that hole come from??
A very incomplete design, yes, but which will be filled very soon.
Interesting to go back to smaller details, and work on gradients and cross-hatching.
On most aspects, Victorine Janvry de Chappin was an extraordinary woman. It all started when she was a child, really —much to her mother’s dismay she started collecting rocks and documenting them in little notebooks, which she would fill with sketches and notes. Very soon, her room was full of various stones, gems and fossils she would gather anywhere she could... « an archaeological site », or « a pit », as mother dearest would call it. She didn’t know how right she’d be.
As early as she could Victorine joined an expedition towards the center of the Earth, following famous Dr. Archibald Howard Birtwhistle, disguised as a man. The professor soon realised the deception, but kept Victorine with him as she was extraordinarily gifted. And very strong! Look at her digging her way through... wait. Was that a growl? What was going on after this tunnel?
Remember the prompt from two days ago, RIP? It was actually Paula’s T-shirt. Paula is, and always was the momonga flying team’s biggest fan.
She would try and support them any way she could, carrying material, giving them pep talks before the flight, anything really. Unfortunately Paula is not very good at flying herself, so most times she’d cheer from the ground (softly, because she knows her voice is quite loud... and she’s very self-conscious about it. Actually she’s self-conscious about a lot of things). But not today! Today she’s up on the air with her idols!
Can you guess how?
In all honesty, Pimprenelle Rambling-Letruche had had the absolute worst day of her life. This whole event was supposed to be her bachelorette party. Then the designer arrived late, and she was trying very hard not to associate it to the fact that he was Italian. He then arrived with dresses that were (intentionally, she was sure of it) all one size too small « because that’s how we do it in Italy », he said. How dare he? And that feather on top of her head... made her look like a duster.
It was now bowing miserably on her damp hair. She had tumbled into a hole, torn her ridiculously tight dress apart, and was now covered in what seemed like gooey mud... The stench was horrible, and she could see things moving in the dark! And screams?? What on Earth was going on?! Didn’t they know it was supposed to be HER day?
Remember the lo-fi girl? From YouTube? She’s been invited to the party too! She just preferred to stay aside with good #music straight from the radio tree and a good book. Considering what’s going on for the other attendees she probably did well...
As head of the flight team, Ferdinand took any kind of help very seriously. Any small gesture was rewarded. So when Paula shyly expressed her desire to fly he did not hesitate.
Well, now that they actually were flying (or floating, more accurately) he was kind of regretting this careless generosity. Paula was full of kindness, so full in fact that it was a little... heavy?
Ultrogotte Trucmachinchouette had always dreamed herself as a fairytale princess. She felt that their grace, their voice, their poise completely echoed hers. Others, ill-advised, would tell you that she had terrible manners, that the squeal she fancied calling a voice could make deaf people cry, and that she usually held herself as a hunchback.
However, all would agree that her story was now getting closer to Cinderella’s. After falling with her partner Dmitry Rostenpowicz (on day 12, SLIPPERY) down a most moist hole, the only thing left was her shoe…
Understanding who it belonged to would be a very easy task, however. Much easier than in the stories. Not so many people wear size 14 high heels.
Our sentinel from ARMOUR day did see something odd about the storm approaching... What he initially though my was a very early crescent moon turned out to be... a massive smile? Mid-air?? What was that about? Something was afoot.
It had been a long month, a long year... no, actually long decades! Margaret wasn’t exactly sure when was the last time she hadn’t felt weary of this world. Everything was just so... difficult. She yearned for the long gone age, before she turned 100, when everything was effortless and ju— IN THE SAME OF ALL THAT IS SWEET IN THIS WORLD HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?
Had anyone every encountered such a big arugula (from day 16, ROCKET)? So pretty, so lush! So appetizing! Gorgeous, delicious! Ah, what a day! What a month! What a year!! Margaret was over the moon. It felt like all the heaviness of time had just been lifted. She was once more the delicate nymph of yore. And she was in for a feast!
And there you have it! Below is the completed picture. Thank you for reading the whole story with me!
If you want your own copy with me, click below!