This Vancouver artist isn't just doing Inktober — he's building you a killer indie rock playlist

Throughout October, we'll be featuring artists doing the Inktober challenge. First up, it's Rafael Mayani.

Throughout October, we'll be featuring artists doing the Inktober challenge. First up, it's Rafael Mayani

For a past Inktober, Vancouver-based artist Rafael Mayani illustrated his favourite songs and albums of the year. This one is "Heartworms" by The Shins. (Instagram/rmayani)

It's the most wonderful time of the year — if you love discovering new artists on Instagram. Inktober is here, and we're already five days in.

Never heard of it? It's not a typo. Here's what you need to know.

Inktober is an annual drawing challenge. Launched in 2009 by American illustrator and cartoonist Nate Parker, it's now an international event on social media, and the premise is simple: just draw something! Draw it in ink, preferably, and then keep doing that every day for the entire month of October.

Some artists follow the event's official list of creative prompts (which you can read, along with the official rules, here). Some people come up with a completely original creative project. And as of writing, there are already more than 792,000 posts filed under the #inktober2017 hashtag on Instagram alone.

All month, CBC Arts will be featuring some of the artists here in Canada who are up for this artistic marathon.

First up, it's Rafael Mayani. A Mexican illustrator based in Vancouver, Mayani is also an art director for West Coast creative studio Giant Ant. And this Inktober, the 29-year-old isn't just delivering charming, black-and-white illustrations — he's also building you one excellent indie playlist.

Everything Mayani posts this Inktober will be inspired by his favourite songs and albums of the year, and so far he's posted tributes to The National, The Shins, Lorde and Haim. Here, he tells us why he's doing the challenge.

Name: Rafael Mayani

Homebase: Vancouver

Style: "My work is heavily character-based, with exaggerated proportions and simple geometric shapes."

Go-to materials: "I usually work digitally, but for Inktober I've been using ink washes (India ink diluted in various concentrations) to get five different tones. Since I usually paint in blocks of colours, this is a great way to translate what I do digitally into paper. I've also been adding details in gold ink."

How many years have you done Inktober? "This is the third time I'm doing Inktober, but I haven't actually finished on time the past two years."

Why do you do Inktober? "It's a great way to move away from the computer for a while, challenge myself and break the daily routine."

Theme: "This year I've decided to make a list of 31 songs from my favourite albums of 2017. While painting each illustration I listen to the album on repeat or other albums from the same artists. It's a great way to revisit the music I've listened to in the past year and pay closer attention to the lyrics."

"There'll be illustrations based on everything from Arcade Fire to Natalia Lafourcade, so the final 'playlist' will be very eclectic."- Rafael Mayani, artist

What keeps you motivated? "I think that this time what keeps me motivated is the fact that I don't want to quit halfway like previous years. But also looking at all the amazing art that other people are doing every day is a really good way to keep working daily."

Which artists will you be following? What's your Top 3? "Marion Bordeyne (@galaxyspeaking), Maike Plenzke (@maike_illu), Eva Eskelinen (@evelmiina)."

What's your favourite drawing so far? "[It] would probably be the one inspired by the song "Heartworms" by The Shins. I'm really happy with how the composition turned out — using the glasses to connect both characters — and I think that the illustration and song go together really well."

What other artists/albums you're planning to draw this month? Any teasers you can share? "There'll be illustrations based on everything from Arcade Fire to Natalia Lafourcade, so the final 'playlist' will be very eclectic."

How does Inktober help you as an artist? "Working on a series of illustrations always helps to refine your style, even more so when you're working on different media than you're used to. So this is a great excuse to get out of your comfort zone and try out new things."

Beyond Inktober, where can people find your art? "You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter and my website,"

Check out his Inktober posts so far.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.


Leah Collins

Senior Writer

Since 2015, Leah Collins has been senior writer at CBC Arts, covering Canadian visual art and digital culture in addition to producing CBC Arts’ weekly newsletter (Hi, Art!), which was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award in 2021. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism school (formerly Ryerson), Leah covered music and celebrity for Postmedia before arriving at CBC.