Find Your Art Style
In all of the art classes I have taken, and in all of the books I have studied, I have almost always heard a reference to finding your own art style.
When I was little, finding a style didn’t seem to be as much of an issue. Copying things out of books, off television, or just plain scribbling was mostly deemed clever and cute. This changed as I got into my teen years. I started hearing more about how you should find your own style and create your own original art. I heard that if you are pursuing a career, this is especially important. You can’t make a living off your perfect Batman drawings. Well, I suppose you could, but if you got too popular, it might get some of the wrong kind of attention. Like the kind that could land you in court.
But even though I was told about the importance of finding your own art style, no one ever really went beyond that. No one really shows you how to do this. I’m still not sure I know how. 😀 Usually, when I’ve asked teachers or other artists, I just heard that you have to practice a lot. It will naturally develop. I think that this is true. But I also think it might take a lot longer when you do it this way. It might be because you don’t really have any guidance, except for what you get in the classroom. On your own, you’re just drawing, painting, sculpting or whatever you do. You usually try to do this as realistically as possible or you still find yourself copying another artist again.
Some people have suggested just finding subject matter that makes your heart sing. That’s also good advice. Maybe you have a thing for sunsets and sunsets only. Or maybe you are bored to tears with scenery and love doing portraiture. You may have to do a personal exploration – trying out different things until you hit on something that excites you. As you do that, you may naturally develop your own style. But who knows if it will always be that way? Take Picasso. His art style changed many times throughout his life. Look at the following paintings.
Whenever I look at Picasso’s work, they always look backwards to me. He starts out, at a young age, with more realism. He was fifteen when he did the first painting. By the end of his life, his art looks the complete opposite. Most people seem to start where he ended and end up where he started. (Did that make sense?)
So, there’s no magic answer to finding your very own art style. Some people have suggested to try out many different styles as possible to help the arrival of your own. I have been content to go on a journey of personal self discovery but have always thought it would be nice to have more guidance. Here’s what I feel what might help you in your own artistic endeavors.
First, look at the art you admire.
If you bought someone else’s work, who would you pick? Is all of it the same? Or would you choose radically different stuff? Choose at least five pieces of art (that is not yours) that you love. You also have to choose different artists rather than five by the same one. It will make this much more effective.
Now, really sit and study these pieces of art. Go through them one by one. What is about each piece that is capturing your love and delight? Don’t be vague. Don’t look at one and just say, “I like this one because it has a bunny in it.” Don’t get me wrong, bunnies are great. I used to have some when I was younger. I just wish they lived longer. But you have to go deeper. Liking the subject matter is always important but what else caught your eye? Maybe the artist made a rainbow rabbit and you just love all that color. Or maybe it’s the complete opposite. Maybe it’s a vampire bunny like that book called “Bunnicula” that one of my teachers read to us when I was in elementary school. And the only colors in the artwork you picked are black, white and red.
Now, look at another piece of art you chose.
Do you see anything similar in it? Let’s say from the first one, you liked the vampire bunny and the use of only three colors. In the second piece, do you also see another animal or a simple use of colors? It’s okay if this is not the case. Just keep going through each work of art and look for the things that capture your attention. Make a few notes if there are a bunch of things. You might notice in another piece that you didn’t choose another animal but rather a person, only the style is almost cartoon-ey. BUT there are still only 2 or 3 colors in it.
Pick up a third piece.
Maybe this one is another animal. It has more color but a very loose style set against a realistic background.
Try a fourth artwork.
This could be a still life. Maybe a good old fashioned bowl of fruit and flowers. But it’s only in shades of green and gold.
Then a fifth.
Maybe it’s an abstract depiction of Donald Duck – who knows? And it’s all in white, yellow and sailor blue.
After going through and studying the art, you should begin to find out a few things. Maybe now, you’ve discovered that there is a lot loose, casual, cartoon-ey type lines in what you’ve picked. But you like a touch of realism in things too. After all, this is art! You can be fun and realistic at the same time. Not only that, you might find that you are attracted to a very limited use of color to make a statement. What’s more, you are drawn more to animals in art.
If you’re still confused, go back and pick out a couple of more pieces of artwork to add to the collection. Keep studying what it is that you liked about them until you get a bunch of answers.
Now, say you have an idea of what is getting your attention. Get a fresh sheet of drawing paper or canvas or whatever it is you like to work with. You know you like animals so pick a subject. Say you have a photo of a friend’s cat that you just love. Now, pick out three colors and stick to those colors only. Next, draw a loose, abstract picture of this cat and give it a realistic background. Or make the cat more realistic and the background a loose watercolor wash.
At the end of all of this, you should have something that’s pretty much your own. That is my wish anyway. I sincerely hope that I didn’t confuse you more!
This is just an example of how you can go about developing your own original work. I have found it helpful in my own artistic journey. If it was helpful to you, then all that’s left to do is the first piece of advice I have always heard. Practice!