How to categorise your art.
Both professional and amateur artists alike often struggle to perfectly categorise their art. Why? Because art by it's very nature should not fit perfectly into a mold, or be generic or easily labelled. Art is almost the complete opposite of such a notion. But, as I've discovered, categorisation/labelling/defining of your art is a useful tool that should be leveraged to your advantage. If you do not know into which box your artwork falls, it makes it phenomenally more difficult to know who your target audience is, which galleries your work would suit and how to promote/describe your work online. So - let's get categorising!
There are only a few questions you really need to ask yourself to figure out how to align your artwork with the most useful and appropriate style/movement.
1. What is your artwork of?
2. How is it depicted?
That's pretty much it. Seems a bit too simple, doesn't it? Now, I'm no art-history major. In fact I find art history to be astonishingly BORING. So I'm by no means the expert on the different art movements throughout the ages. What does interest me - is Google search terms, how galleries label themselves and which hashtags are best for your art. These are useful tools as an artist in this day and age. What are people going to type in to find you? And which galleries will have the best customer base for your art?
I probably reassess how I categorise my art at least once a year. Which could seem strange, surely once you pick a category you just stick to it? As your artwork develops, so too will your understanding and perception of it. You'll push different elements and consequently change the category your art falls into. For instance, the three artworks below were all created by me at different stages throughout my artistic journey. The styles - whilst all me in different ways - are completely different.
The artwork on the left, could be categorised under fashion illustration. The middle - pop portraiture. The right - figurative pop surrealism. Or at least that's how I'd categorise them. So you see, it is absolutely essential to keep re-categorising your art as it evolves and changes. If you're not still not sure where you fall, google the art movement you think is the right fit - if the description sounds like you, jump on board. Or if you need visual confirmation, go on Instagram and search the hashtag to see what comes up. If the artwork in that genre looks nothing like yours, you might be barking up the wrong tree.
Lowbrow exudes technical strength and remains subversive and unapologetically dark. It is moody and atmospheric, character driven and narrative based. Lowbrow hangs together by its distinct stylistic traits; characterised features on creatures, (think doe eyes and large heads) with heavily stylised, cartoon-influenced landscapes. All of this is pulled off with highly refined, technically delightful precision. Lowbrow has no patience for the unskilled, with leading artists such as Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki and Robert Williams demonstrating the value placed on technical skill.
The things that connect with me there are atmospheric, narrative based, character driven, characterised features, stylised, cartoon, refined technical precision. And those are just a few of the artists I look up to, which is another good indication that it might be my genre. Look at the artists you admire, the artworks you love, and generally that will be a bit of a hint as to where your own creations could be categorised. Or, better yet, look at the galleries they exhibit in and see how they label themselves. That's a huge indicator of what your customer base will be searching for to find your type of art.
Thanks so much for reading this blog post! Have a browse on my website and check out all the different artworks I've created recently - you can even find these highly limited necklaces featuring my artwork!