Developing a Style

StyleWhen you are first starting out as an artist, it may occur to you that all of your favorite artists have a particular style even if some of them are very similar. Now when you are at the begin of your career it is expected that you will imitate your role models; your teachers, artists you admire, your peers, even your parents if they have some artistic interest. This is what role models are for, it is would we learn to eat, drink, speak and walk. but eventually we all develop our own gait; our own voice. And so it is with art.

You may feel a pressure to find this style immediately, but what you should keep in mind is that you voice as an artist comes through as a byproduct really. What I mean is that, no great sculptor or painter ever sat down and decided what their style would be from then on. it developed from years of practice, and finding the forms and colors that spoke to them, it came after hours and hours of trial and error; finding the little tricks and shortcuts that made the marks they wanted. In the end the only prerequisite to finding a style that speak to who you are as a person and artist, is to know who you are as a person, and what you like as an artist.

That’s it. Now three step plan, no curriculum to help you through the process. Just figure out what you like, and start making that. One tip that I would put out there is: Don’t be afraid to pull from different mediums, genres, and professions. If you like a thing, let it inspire you and shine through to your work. Like video games? Put it in your work. Like fantasy fiction? Put it in your work. Are you religious? Put it in your work. Like the circus? Put it in your work. It is true that one of the best tools an artist came develop is the ability to edit, to remove that which is modeling the real essence of a piece, but this thought process does not extend to your style. A style , a perspective, came not be edited, because it is a part of who you are. Throw everything you love about the world, even everything you hate about the world; anything that stirs you deep inside, and inspires you to create should be acknowledged. You can’t edit a style, you can only censor it, and people can almost always tell when something is missing, or when a piece feels halfhearted.

If you throw your whole self into a piece, the viewer can see it. If you have fun while making a piece, the viewer will see it. If you have to drag yourself to the finish line? People will see that too. Your work is a reflection of who you are as a person. which is why you can always recognize student work. It not necessarily because its bad. Even people with immense talent start out as students, and even though their work might be good, it is still student work, it is the work that you make before you know what it is you really  want to make. The only way to figure out what that is, is to make, and make, and make.

Trust yourself. You know what you like, even if you are not sure why it is you like it. if you just let yourself play, eventually you will begin to feel the important bits, they will be the bits that stick. And if a series of pieces aren’t working, is is not because of the subject matter. I promise you that one thing. you may have trouble grasping the technique end of things; form, color, composition. But these are visual problems, maybe you are being too literal with an idea, but, the idea; the heart of the piece, that is a deeply personal choice, as long as it is a choice that was made with purpose. This is an important point to make. Make decisive marks. It is fine to start a piece without a clear direction, but then somewhere in the midst of creation, decisions must be made. Decisions about the direst of the piece, and decisions about editing back. If you are being decisive then you are letting you voice come through.

In some ways this is the most important thing to remember. Because it does not matter, if people don’t like your work, or  if people don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish, as long as you do. If you are making conscious decisions about what your work is doing, then you own it. Then at the very least you can say that it is true to yourself. Once you start to make marks because you were told to by others, or worse, make them for no reason at all, you have lost your voice. In a fully developed piece, that is complete, there should be no area of the composition that was not considered. There can be loose areas, even blank areas as long as they are that way with purpose. If you can manage that, then it doesn’t matter what decisions you went with, you can be sure that they were your decisions, and that no one else would have made them. That is where you style is.

And that’s my take on developing a style.


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