— by Mellany Armstrong

Artists often say that drawing every day can help you get out of a creative slump, and so what better way to practice that than by participating in Blacktober?

“It’s been inspiring people to get back into art again,” said Celeste Cottrell ’19, co-creator of Blacktober. Blacktober is a monthlong event designed to get Black creators to turn their favorite characters into someone who looks like them.

“The main thought overall was to put a fun representative twist on their favorite forms of art, be it from anime, western cartoons, video games and more,” said the Animation & Game Arts grad.

Cottrell and her friend Céli Godfried, a freelance illustrator from Denmark, came up with the idea, noting that October is Black History Month in Europe. Cottrell said her community Black Card Members used their graphic design skills to create the invitation to Blacktober. So far this month, hundreds of artists have posted their work to social media with the hashtag Blacktober, using prompts such as “childhood fave,” “creepy” and “running with toast.”

Cottrell said she and Godfried created Blacktober because some Black artists didn’t want to participate in the popular Inktober after its creator, artist Jake Parker, was accused of plagiarizing work from a book by artist Alphonso Dunn.

“We wanted to officially give them the space in like a tag that would uplift them and just give them something fun and happy to do instead of constantly making art that is just sad or you know like, it doesn't always have to be a political statement,” Cottrell said. “Like, I just want to make some fan art. I just want to draw Naruto and I want Naruto to look like me, and there's nothing wrong with that.”

Cottrell said anyone, black or non-black, can participate in something called OC-tober, which encourages artists to put their spin on others’ original characters.

Celeste Cottrell '19 Harley Quinn

“We have over 200 different characters that other Black artists originally created that you can draw from and follow the prompts,” she said. “We just want to continue spreading Black joy, we want to continue sharing Black happiness.”