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Is it Important to have a Unique and Recognizable Artistic Style?

unique and recognizable artistic style

Is it Important to have a Unique and Recognizable Artistic Style?

Is it Important to have a Unique and Recognizable Artistic Style?

Most artists have worked hard to develop a personal style. Whether you like digital painting, oil painting, or charcoal drawing, most artists have their own preferences and a way of creating art that is unique to them. A common question many artists have when they’re starting out is if it’s necessary to create a personal style that is recognizable even without a signature. 

After a 90-minute art challenge with Bobby Chiu and Masae Seki, Bobby asked guest artist and fellow Schoolism art instructor, Nathan Fowkes, his thoughts on this very question. One of the objectives of an artist is to make their art stand out, but for a large project, the art must blend with other artists. There is no simple answer to this question, but Fowkes explained his thoughts on the topic. 

Each artist found their passion for art in a different way. Some found it through an after-school art camp, and others found it as they doodled on their homework and their teacher encouraged them to take an art class. Whatever way you got hooked on art as a career, bring your passion to the next level to advance your career and your skills. 

Creating Your Unique Artistic Style is a Balancing Act:

Fowkes explains that too much of a good thing can actually be detrimental to your career as an artist. If you create art for personal reasons alone, there is no problem with creating art in a single style. An art-based career is different in that it requires a balance between what you like to do and what is necessary for the job you are hired to accomplish. 

Every artist will naturally have a personal style and different talents. It is essential to cultivate these talents but not limit them by confining them to a single style. Adaptability is critical in a career as an artist, and you have to learn how to change with the needs of the project. 

The process of every artist varies, and those differences are often identifiable to the trained eye. When creating art that is included in a bigger picture, it can be difficult to stray from your comfort zone to blend the parts. 

Fowkes explains further with the example of one artist favoring the shape of the subject and creating the detail involved with that vs. another, taking the same image and focusing on the shadows and lighting. Both images can be on the same subject but yield an entirely different result depending on the style. 

Finding the balance may be difficult, but it is possible to find a unique style while still blending in with others. Don’t miss out on an opportunity just because it doesn’t match your style perfectly.

Don’t Make Creating Your Individual Style a Formula:

When creating a style, you run the risk of your art turning into a formula. In this context, a formula means that you take every subject and give it the same treatment. This formula could mean the same setting, colors, lighting, etc. While this can define a style in the early stages of your career, it can cause problems when you are trying to grow and learn. 

If you only think of a subject in a specific location or style, you miss out on the opportunity to create something new that perfectly matches the subject and theme you are trying to make. A dark and shadowy forest may be the perfect setting for a tragic tale, but it would look out of place with an uplifting storyline. 

Avoiding a formula doesn’t mean that you can’t have the same process for every piece of art. You can still start with a simple sketch, add color on paper, then move to the digital canvas. In this case, process and formula mean different things. The process is the physical act of creating the work, where the formula is the mental attitude you direct toward it. 

Keeping your process the same for every work of art can actually help you create more efficiently, but it doesn’t mean that every piece has to look the same or have the same feel. Every subject has a unique story, and it is your job as the artist to convey that story to the viewer. 

Having Your Own Personal Style is About Artistic Brand Forming:

personal artistic style

Having a personal style that is recognizable can be beneficial at the start of your career. It gives clients an idea of what they are getting when they hire you for a project. It becomes a problem when your work becomes predictable in the sense that every new piece of art looks just like the previous one. If someone can predict precisely how the piece will look, the art loses its appeal. 

In today’s market, creating a brand is almost essential to becoming successful. Artists are sometimes hired from a viral Instagram post rather than a cultivated portfolio presented to an employer. Your brand is about who you are and how you grow as an artist. Your art should adapt to new things in your life as well as the various projects you are working toward. 

Branding is about finding out who you are and who your audience is. Once you have both of these figured out, it can be helpful to market yourself to designers and art directors. Be cautious of creating a brand that is too specific as it will limit your visibility and possibly alienate potential clients or employers. 

Your brand is also about you as a person, and it is allowed to grow and change as you do along with your followers. The same people who have followed you from the beginning will have changed as well and become different people. Allow yourself the opportunity for growth, and don’t let your art get stuck in a rut. 

Generalist vs. Specialist:

Fowkes proclaims himself a generalist by learning a variety of techniques to better suit his change in projects. A specialist can be helpful on intimate details, but they may have trouble finding work between projects. 

Video games and movies are excellent examples where generalists are better suited to the environment. A new video game may have a general idea of what they want the graphics to look like, and you are hired for the team to work on the backgrounds for the game. A generalist will have an easier time changing their style based on the location within the game. 

Art Directors may hire specialists to create a single aspect of the graphics that play to their strengths, but overall, the bulk of the project goes to the generalist. Inside a specific style, you are trapped in a box that may not give you the same opportunities. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a particular style and create art in that way, but be cautious of letting it limit your options.

The entertainment industry is on a never-ending quest to discover the next new trend. If you fall behind by focusing on a single style, you could miss out on new and exciting opportunities. 

Other Creative Projects to Cultivate Your Unique Style:

artists unique style

When artists find themselves between jobs, they often work on their own projects. It can be a book, a graphic novel, or other creative projects. These projects are your opportunity to focus on a particular skill you enjoy or want to learn more about. Art is a career based on passion and creativity, and it must be cultivated to succeed. 

There is no wrong way to do your art, and if a particular style makes you happy, you should do it! Proceed with caution, and don’t paint yourself into a corner that doesn’t allow for any deviation from that style. Spend your spare time working toward a goal of perfecting a particular skill each month, and in no time, you will be better prepared for your career. 

You can expand your style by taking classes in other mediums or with a variety of subjects. The saying of practice makes perfect might be a little extreme, but practice does make it better and things will get easier over time. There is always more to learn in the art world, you just have to be open to it. 

Don’t Trap Yourself in a Box When Searching for Your Personal Artistic Style:

personal creative style

Nathan Fowkes concludes his answer by restating that adaptability is what helped him progress in his career. Artists need to be able to change with every new project, especially in the entertainment industry. In the classic art world, where art is bought and sold, there is less of a need for change and adaptability. 

But even famous artists had their different periods where they changed their style completely. At first, it was an unwelcome change, but people adapted and learned to accept that they had changed as an artist. 

Taking your style to the extreme and having a narrow focus can really hurt your career if you aren’t careful. That is not to say that specialists won’t have a job if they don’t learn to generalize, but it can be harder to break into the specialist industry. 

As an artist, you should always strive to improve your craft and work towards a goal. Whether that goal is a certain number of completed pieces, writing and drawing a graphic novel, or landing your dream job, you can reach your goals if you work hard and keep learning! 

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