Inktober: UH Hilo student club participates in worldwide art challenge

Part of an annual worldwide event, the Kaiameaola Club has created their own Inktober challenge this year focusing on Hawai‘i’s native plants and animal species.

Bird in tree looking at a crescent moon.
Ink drawing of ‘alalā by Anya Benavides. #tcbesinktober (All art images in this story are courtesy of the tropical conservation biology and environmental science graduate program/UH Hilo)

By Cheylan Zimmermann.

A student club at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is participating in a worldwide event called Inktober that challenges artists to create a single ink drawing every day during the entire month of October.

Members of the Kaiameaola Club, home-based at the UH Hilo tropical conservation biology and environmental science graduate program, are posting their Inktober artwork on the club’s Instagram.

Nai‘a Odachi pictured.
Nai‘a Odachi

“It’s been super fun getting to see the various artwork by different members of the program,” says graduate student Nai‘a Odachi who serves as secretary of the Kaiameaola Club.

The purpose of the original Inktober event, started by artist Jake Parker in 2009, was to create a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

To inspire people to participate, a list of prompts is created, one for each day of the month. The challenge is for the artists to create one drawing a day based on the prompt of that day.

“There are multiple prompt lists that come out from different artists each year and lots of people on social media contribute and share their artwork,” Odachi says.

Students in the UH Hilo Kaiameaola Club have created their own Inktober event this year with their prompt list focusing on different aspects of conservation and research in Hawai‘i such as native plants and animal species. By introducing flora, fauna, and other species to the community through art, the club is able to provide a fun and relaxing approach to learning.

List of prompts that includes flora and fauna of the islands.
Students in the UH Hilo Kaiameaola Club have created their own Inktober event this year with a prompt list focusing on different aspects of conservation and research in Hawai‘i such as native plants and animal species.

Odachi says the goal behind these prompts is to “encourage students, especially those not from Hawai‘i, to learn about some of the native species that are important in Hawai‘i.”

Some of the prompts include the Hawaiian happy-face spider, i‘iwi, palapalai, ‘apapane, koa, ‘ōhelo, and more. Next to each prompt, the club has also provided participants with the scientific name for each of the plant and animal species.

With a little twist to the Inktober rules, the Kaiameaola Club is not limiting the challenge to ink drawings. Students have also submitted digital pieces, colored pencil artwork, and paintings. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Members of the local community, as well as visitors to the island, are also participating.

The Volcano Art Center is helping the club to promote the event in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. In the park, a station is set up so visitors can partake in the event and draw their daily Inktober ink drawing. Park visitors are able to view the prompt list at this station as well as a photo reference for inspiration.

Each day, the Kaiameaola Club is posting one of the pieces created by a club member on their Instagram @kaiameaola. Each post includes information about the current native species drawing prompt.

Students participating in this event not only get the chance to enhance their artistic talents but also are able to share their talents. Inktober art by the students is featured on the club’s Instagram story when students tagged their Instagram or used the hashtag #tcbesinktober on their post.

Ink drawing of a fern.
Ink drawing of palapalai by Kalena Shiroma. #tcbesinktober

It is not required to be an artist to take part in this event, but to have fun, learn about the species in Hawai‘i, and share sketches or finished pieces of artwork. Students are still encouraged to participate in the last few days of the event. After the event comes to an end, those who are interested still have the ability to look at both the Inktober posts created by club members and the story highlights including the participant’s beautiful artwork.

Through this event, club members are supporting and complimenting one another’s skills that they hadn’t seen before. Kaiameaola Club members are successfully hosting an event that is positive in supporting the creativity of students, visitors, and their program members.

Students are also utilizing this event as a kinesthetic form of learning and relaxation.

“I think students enjoy taking a break from research and writing to do something artistic, and this was a great way to promote that,” Odachi says.

For those interested in the Kaiameaola Club, it is the official club for the tropical conservation biology and environmental science graduate program at UH Hilo. While all students in the program are automatically in the club, membership is open to all UH Hilo students, faculty and staff, as well as any community members with interest in environmental science and conservation.


Story by Cheylan Zimmerman, an English major at UH Hilo.