The Artist – Developing that "Signature Style"

Supposedly, this is what sets you apart from everyone else.  What can get you noticed instead of blending into the crowd.  007 has Style. has Style.  Heck, even Peewee Herman has style…but it’s not the kind of style that most people feel comfortable being around.

Style happens in art as well.  Most people can pick out a Picasso from Van Gogh..there are obvious differences that make each unique.

Young artists are obsessed with this.  I know I was.  This comes from a couple of different places:
1. You are young and don’t know much about yourself.  You’re still inventing and experimenting, not sure what you want to become or exactly how to get there.  This stretchs on for decades for some people.
2. If we have a formal art education, we are taught HOW to do art.  Hold your brush this way.  Use these colors.  Don’t use these materials. (And don’t forget the “THAT’s not ART!” thinking).

So, the combination of not knowing anything much about yourself AND being told to do art the way someone else is doing it pretty much fills your head with uncertainty.  You are inspired by other artists, so you wind up doing art that looks just like theirs.  Until you find someone ELSE who inspires you….and you change again.  When will it end?  When will you find your voice?  When will you know WHO YOU ARE and WHY…..

…wait.  I’ve got you covered.

First of all, you DO have a style.  No matter how much you are forced into some other mold, you are a different creature than anyone else.  The way you sign your name is different from someone else’s just as much as your fingerprint is different from another’s.  It’s in there, trust me.

But how does it come out?  What can you do to foster that smoldering ember until it bursts into a raging flame of Style?  Well, it’s a two-step process:

1. Do Art.
2. Do Art again.

See, two things are happening if you follow those steps.  First, you’re becoming comfortable with material and technique, and second, time is passing.  It takes both of those things.

You see, if time is passing and you AREN’T doing art, you never gain mastery of the medium so that IT is doing what YOU want it to do.
Similarly, if you are doing TONS of art but now allowing TIME to pass, then you aren’t allowing yourself to reflect on the experience and to assimilate what you have learned.

So, what I recommend is that you build a HABIT of practicing art….every day, if you can.  You don’t even have to make lightning progress…just sit down and do something.  Pretty soon, WHO you ARE will show through the materials and process, and instead of someone saying “Oh.  It looks like he’s trying to be like….” people will be saying “Oh!  I THOUGHT that was X’s work!”

Try to think of each piece as a step toward discovering who you REALLY are as an artist.  Because you’ll be also discovering who you REALLY are as a PERSON.

That’s Style.


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