We all have our own methods and hacks that seem to work for us and we repeat and refine those techniques to the point that we have a recognizable signature style to call our own. So how do you find your own art style?
Your own unique art style is a combination of various factors including, your chosen medium, the size of your work, and your compositional eye. Your choice of subject matter, technique and sense of color, will also influence you. When you discover a coherent and repeatable mix of all these elements, you will have your signature style.
Consider these points:
- What do you like to draw or paint?
- What medium do you prefer?
- Who’s work inspires you the most?
- How’s your temperament? studious or impatient?
- What size art do you make?
- Do you intend to sell your work?
So how do you whittle down your craft to find your unique working method and claim it as your own? Let’s find out.
There are so many contributing factors involved in finding your own unique style that a few pointers in the right direction will help you to cut corners, get focused, and save you endless time floundering around.
Like it or not, your style is your USP (unique selling point), it’s your path to recognition. It’s your brand, logo, and signature all rolled into one. In an ideal world, anyone coming across your work will instantly know it’s yours the moment they see it.
Your chosen subject will influence your art style
Most popular artists have pigeonholed themselves into an easily identifiable niche. That could be because their art involves a passion for a particular hobby, activity, or interest. They might, for instance, be known for their love of landscapes or portraiture. Some might be recognized for their color-sense, theme, or genre or indeed, their social commentary, politics, or satire. The list is endless.
What all the well-known artists have in common is their consistency. They repeat their subjects and working methods, over and over again.
That’s far easier to achieve if you have an interest in the world beyond art. Try to identify what it is in a subject that makes you want to capture the moment, or feeling, in your artwork.
Combining your interests will sustain you for the long term so this is not an irrelevant question. If your subject is based on profit alone and not combined with your other interests in life, you’ll soon burn out.
Settle on a subject or a theme and stick to it. Be known as the person who paints that subject brilliantly well. The public wants to give you a label and they’ll collect and appreciate the way you work if it’s easily understood, with a coherent narrative, that binds the work together.
Your style might be exceptional but it’s important to remember that the public usually buys the subject first. Very few people buy art as such. They buy pictures and mostly representational art that involves a noticeable craft. They look for connections and stories that resonate with them or their loved ones in a personal way.
What subject floats your boat? Choose one and get started.
Your choice of medium will dictate your art style
Your medium will dictate your style as nothing else will. There’s no point in trying to emulate a style of painting using a technique that’s only achievable by using a different medium entirely.
If you are at the very beginning of your journey and are yet to discover the medium that suits you best, there’s no other option but to experiment. Each medium has its own peculiarities and some you will take to naturally and some you won’t.
Find your specialty and concentrate your efforts on excelling in that medium. Unless you are very adept and talented it would be best to master one artform before moving on to another.
Who inspires you? What art style floats your boat?
We all grow up in the thrall of one artist or another. That changes as we age but influences can last a lifetime.
What artists get you going? Why do you love them so much? What is it about their style that makes you yearn to do something similar?
I’m not suggesting that you copy them or anyone else, but we all borrow ideas in order to make our own versions of what we see. Everyone does it. It’s called inspiration and part of the joy of creating something.
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.“PICASSO
It’s fun to get excited and push ourselves to the limit and discover what we can do ourselves. If that involves an idea sparked-off by the work of another artist, then so be it. That artist almost certainly did the same thing before you, and so it goes on.
Your personality will determine your own art style
Your character will have a direct bearing on your style of work. If you are restless and impatient to get things done, why would you attempt photo-realism? Conversely, if you are a perfectionist and borderline OCD, why try to be fast and loose?
You have little choice but to go with the flow and adapt to what the Gods gave you and make the best of it. If you have an eye for detail and painstaking patience that will, inevitably, dictate your style. If, on the other hand, you see detail as a pointless waste of good painting time, that view will push you in another direction.
We, each of us, have aptitudes and sensibilities that lend us towards one type of work or another. Embrace your capabilities and don’t try to be something you’re not, and that leads us to the next point.
The size of your work will affect your style
Do you make big art or small?
Are you a person who throws the paint on the canvas to see what happens or a control freak who paints with a single-hair brush?
The tools you use will be governed by the size of your work. The application, when using those tools, will determine the style. A miniaturist using a magnifying glass will use tools and techniques that differ wildly from the guy painting a mural.
Your personality will determine your preference. Where is your comfort zone?
Are you selling your art?
Last but not least, do you intend to sell your work? If your intention is to earn a living, finding your signature art style is crucial.
You may well find a few tricks, accidents, or gimmicks, that help you get sales along the way. It’s important to capitalize on those successes and repeat them. The process will become your style.
When I painted portraits I soon discovered that my customers preferred my sketchier work. They looked fast and loose but that was far from the case.
I painted slowly and accurately and in the final stages of the work I would liven it up. I’d ‘lose’ some harder edges with some flicks, add a few smudges, and ‘rough’ in the background. It was a contrived spontaneity.
That became my style of portraiture.
Don’t think that the greats did anything differently if they hit on a cash cow they milked it. Why not?
I don’t think you have to spend years of artistic angst and self-torture to find your own style. It’s inside you already and waiting to be discovered. You can unlock it by finding the medium you like best, mastering it, and painting something you love. Your style will emerge quickly as you get better and more confident.
That’s it in a nutshell.
If you found this article useful you may like these too:
- How do wildlife artists make a living?
- Is it cheating to trace your art?
- Why art doesn’t sell itself, but your story does.
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