How important is it to have a "style?" What if you have several ways of drawing and several mediums which you like to use? Would showing several styles present a detriment to your career/commercial viability as a visual artist?
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Jeffrey L Peltier (@Ffej)
It is easy to fall in to a rut remember the first time you were amazed that’s it :be amazing
I often have the same contemplation. In fact, last night I tried painting buildings - away from my norm of painting bodies. This was kind of overwhelming because I realised I have a long way to go before I produce this style of artwork that I am really proud of. But I try to remember that it took me a while before I was really proud of the abstract portraits i was painting (and still paint regularly). I think from this perspective, it's okay to go through phases of becoming great at one style before moving to something new. But from the business perspective, I think it's true that followers follow for a specific reason; being your unique style. So, deviating away from that could be detrimental in some way... but it's also true that a style change will gain some new followers. However, I do not create and sell, so I am interested to hear from someone who does treat their artwork as their business as they probably have a better insight into the patterns of commercial viability!!!
@Pyro Thank you for your insight! I agree with you that experimentation is the key to staying fresh as an artist. The more that you experience, the more that experience seeps into your work. I also agree that it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment to master a medium. I have gone through several phases that have resulted in becoming good at a particular way of working or becoming adept with a particular medium. This is the primary reason why I jump from one style to another, from analog to digital. I just don’t know if this style jumping will confuse potential clients in the future. The only consolation I can take is that a strong theme runs through most everything that I do - the love of figure drawing. That and the highly technical way that I draw.
@Zazouka So true! Sometimes I wonder how I managed to get myself through art school with no money to buy art supplies.
Daniel Gräfen (@Neuromancer)
I don't know how important it is to have a "style". I see the definition of style as something how others label me. I try to focus on the things I love. Thinking about a style is for me like restricting myself to "how I think others see me" or "how I think others want to see me". I like restrictions, but I don't like that someone restricts me. If I love to restrict myself to five colors I will do that. I don't like the idea to stick to this restriction because I fear someone will not like me anymore if I use only three colors or choose to work with 12 colors. I hope my "style" is something which is defined Post Mortem. Defined by the actions I did and by the output I produced and I'm sure it will be unique what ever I tried out and what ever medium was used. Maybe there are then style episodes, like the 5 color phase, followed by a 3 color phase. I can say this easily, because I'm not depending commercially on opinion of the audience. For me it's valid if someone spend thoughts on perfect style to grow the fans and clients. My way of thinking is, before I think of preserving my style, I think of how can I find people who love the things I do and make a business with these people. Probably these group of people will change over time and it needs effort and luck to find them, but as preserving "style" is also no guarantee it's well spent effort. I would risk it... “change is the only constant in life”
@Neuromancer Thanks for your insights! You are right in that I should just focus on the love of drawing. As it stands, I allow outside influences to shape what I do and chase what I think will garner a bigger audience. At this point in time, I enjoy doing ballpoint pen drawings. Tomorrow may be different. I guess the one constant in my work (no matter the style) is the love of figure drawing. Thank you.
Well, I believe that answer needs to be faced with different points: 1. I believe that there is art which I like to see and art which I like to make. It might sound strange but I always wanted to paint and draw everything, I get inspired with many artists and I tried to replicate their style... until I found out that I wasn't feel happy. I realized that some style, some art, has to be seeing but not replicate by me. I don't don't if it makes any sense ... 2.I have different style and I love to paint different stuff in.. different media. Every time I start drawing I think I have to mix everything into a new style, or I think I have to pursue an artist choice, or I need to eliminate something. The result is always the same: I have the necessity to express myself according to the feeling of that day. So in my opinion limit yourself into one style is dangerous and frustrating.It kills the spontaneity. 3. If you have different style and you want to impress your clients try to create different portfolio. A client wants to understand what "is buying", wants to see an homogeneous portfolio. 4. Let you style comes, with no stress: I personally tryed to stress it too much, and I believe it just lost time. Style comes from idea, experience, the way you see the world, but I think some people sometime forget the most essencial things: knowledge. Only if you have a good knowledge of you your craft/art you can synthesize it. Too often artists want to bee picasso, but the forget that before he found his way to communicate and his style, he went through several experinces and he lernt very weel anatomy and art...
Patricia Bingham (@pbingham)
I look at it this way - one doesn't always want to eat the same foods, listen to the same music, read the same kind of books. I've never regretted trying a new media, though in the back of my mind were those voices that said define yourself by one style, medium, etc. That is probably true if you're submitting work to a gallery - but it doesn't mean you should only, for example, paint in acrylics on canvas using the same color scheme so that some unknown curator "gets" it. If you feel like doing abstract watercolors one week and B&W photography the next, then do it. If you follow your heart, eventually you'll have enough pieces in the many media you work in so that when submitting work you can decide which kind of work is best suited. You open yourself up to more opportunity when you allow yourself to sample the creative buffet, and aren't a one-trick pony. I believe if you have been given an abundance of creative ideas, don't ignore them. Let them out of their cages to play..
Savannah Donohue (@SavyScribbles)
It's important to have a style, because it can unify your works and essentially create a brand (if you're doing something commercial), but it is also important to do a breadth of work to show that you're capable of being multifaceted and creating different types of art. Sometimes multiple pieces can blur together if they are too similar so branching out can prevent that from happening and make you look more talented in the process.
@Matt86 Thanks for your input! When I was younger, I often imitated the styles of other artists. What happened when I did this is that not only did I examine their style, but in the process of imitation, I added something of my own because I could’t quite imitate it faithfully. So after I had approximated the ‘look’ and ‘feel,’ I would eventually find another artist whose ‘look’ fascinated me and I moved on. Over the years, this accumulation of knowledge lent itself well to a system of working given a particular need. I have examined so many different artists on my journey that I would find myself reverting to a particular ’style’ when the need for that way of working arises. I am happy with the amalgamation of techniques that I’ve picked up over the years, but the thing that underpins all this research is the additions that I’ve made in examining and studying all these techniques. I could jump from pen and ink to pencil and charcoal to digital and I sincerely hope that the results would show the underlying love of form and the attention to detail and draftsmanship inherent in all my work. If that constitutes my ‘style,’ then I’m happy with the results.
@pbingham Exactly! If I worked continuously in one medium/technique, I would get bored. As I stated in my reply to @Matt86, your journey as an artist starts with an interest in a piece of work that fascinates you. From there you study, examine and imitate that work. In the process of studying, one would hope that you add a little bit of yourself in the process. Given enough time, all this research should lead to a better understanding of who and what you’re capable of as an artist.
Tina Marie (@BLESSED13)
I love all medium, yet have not been actively doodling form many years. Therefore, this is like the beginning of my art recovery and I feel as though I am just beginning . I definitely want to explore more mediums and canvas.
@SavyScribbles Yes, I agree! If multiple works blur together and become similar, then you’ve become somewhat predictable. I sometimes fear that is exactly what style is - predictability. Some people (like potential clients) like predictability. It shows them that you are known quantity. That you won’t surprise them with something that is totally different from what they were expecting. As creatives, we have to find that balancing point where we continue to experiment and grow as artists while at the same time showing a diverse portfolio that shows some underlying quality that goes beyond style—perspective. Your personal artistic perspective should be evident no matter what the medium, no matter what the style.
@BLESSED13 Thanks for your input! I think the thrill of discovering something that is new automatically drives you to explore. There’s an old saying that goes something like ”…explore art through the eyes of a child…” fits the outlook that I strive for. As children, we were all fearless artists willing to paint on walls and experiment with weird and wonderful art ‘materials.’ Creating with no fear. Creating without a care as to the success or failure of a drawing. Keep exploring!
@JoerB I struggle with this concept of 'style' so much. Sometimes I think I do too much exploring that it's frustrating - that I should just buckle down with one way of painting/drawing already! It's so much fun though, to experiment! So here lies my dilemma. I feel like in a way I haven't perfected a single technique; and because of that belief I don't have the courage to go commercial right now (I'm like an extreme hobbyist at the moment, I guess). Jack of all trades, master of none, that's me! A lot of the artists/illustrators that I follow on Instagram all have a very strong visual identity and I think in a way that very narrow but intense focus is what made them so successful - because they've perfected their craft. But it's tricky, because I think if you have a strong theme running through all of your work, it doesn't matter what you paint with, and to an extent, how you paint it. James Jean is one example of a successful artist whom I admire that has done this, in my opinion. Just my 2 pennies' worth :).
David Wilson (@David50Wilson)
Style may be some byproduct of my art. It certainly is not a rule maker or a goal in any way. If and when style tells me what to do and how to do it, I am in the wrong business.
Tricia Clark (@gouacheink)
@Zazouka haha :)
kanaiyah ward (@jadewest)
in my opinion, if you don't have a style so be it! it's even better if you wait to find your style until you're like a near-professional drawer /artist.you may not never fully have a full ..style it may be different styles in one .so its okay to have more than one style.no it would not change anything about you being a visual artist
rhea daniel (@atomicrakshasi)
I've struggled with this my entire life as an artist (since I was ten) People have a tendency to project when it comes to what they think is the 'right' kind of art, so I tried to be good at everything and landed up having a bunch of different styles and not being particularly good at all of them. The truth is if you want to be commercially viable its better if people know what to expect from you in terms of style, and the audience generally loves consistency. This does not mean you abandon doing the things you love doing in other styles, you can save that for the sketchbook e.g I love stylised folksy art, kitsch and I also love realism, romanticism, surrealism, impressionism, post etc. etc.. I only managed to narrow down on style recently (phew) and I've left my unpredictability for my sketchbook. My bread and butter still life and architecture for my commissions. Guess which one I find boring.