Finding your style (is frustrating!)
A big puzzle that emerging artists can face is figuring out what their style is. What makes their artwork unique? What makes it recognisable as theirs? We look up to our favourite well-established artists and see that they have a defined and consistent style. But how do we get to that point? This doesn't happen overnight for anybody. It's a process of discovery, not a special gift that someone is born with. If you're game enough to scroll waaaaay back through some artists' Instagram feeds, you'll notice their early work is vastly different from their more recent work. Over time it evolves, and becomes more uniquely their own. This is a process that all artists must go through!
I know when I was first starting out, I dabbled in a wide variety of styles. Experimenting, playing around with different techniques and aesthetics. It was super fun!
2012 - 2013 (TOTALLY DIFFERENT STYLES)
Over time, I started to hone my techniques and naturally progressed in my style. Whilst I could tell I was getting better, looking at all my artworks - I still lacked consistency and a unique look that was all my own.
2013 - 2014 (BETTER BUT INCONSISTENT)
At this point, I began to become frustrated. Why couldn't I find my thing? Other artists made it look so easy. They just made stuff and it was theirs. I would find myself going down one road, and then getting restless and suddenly heading down an entirely different path.
Then something very important happened. I didn't know it at the time, but it was key in honing my craft... ...I started working at an art gallery! In retrospect, this proved invaluable in the development of my style. Every day I was looking at professional artists' work. I would analyse it, figure out what I liked about it, what I didn't like about it. I'd notice how they used proportion and colour. What themes they included. How they used their medium.
Here are some of the artworks and artists that I adored:
These had a huge influence on me! From looking at amazing artworks day in day out, gradually I noticed my own artwork evolving. I'd see a resemblance in my work, to one that inspired me. It might be the colours, or the way an eye is drawn, or a particular painting style. By honing in on what I liked in others' work, I figured out what I liked best in my own work. And those qualities eventually shone through into a consistent style.
2015 - 2016 (CONSISTENCY)
Yippee, hooray! My art is now at a place where I have a unique/distinct style and a level of consistency. That means I can hang up my hat and call it a day. Done and dusted. Style accomplished. I'm set for life. Right? WRONG! As soon as I realised my paintings were all looking the same, I realised I was bored with them. They became stale. *sigh* but I just got here, you mean I have to go through the process all over again? 'Fraid so Erika, 'fraid so. But - that's the whole point of life! The process. And enjoying it. So now I've realised that finding your style is the constant process of evolution, your style should constantly change and improve whilst simultaneously be recognisable as yours. Sound like a paradox? Perhaps. Your style should be constantly evolving yet simultaneously remain as consistent as possible - but there's a trick. What makes it remain truly yours - is the intention behind each piece. If you constantly focus on producing something that you love and that expresses a piece of you - then it will always be in your style. Even if that style changes over time. How have other people's styles developed over time? Do you have any advice for those who are struggling to find their own?