Artists hear all the time the advice that you need to find “YOUR STYLE” as if it’s this thing playing hide-n-seek with you. That if you turn over enough rocks you’ll find it hiding beneath. This thinking messed with my head for so many years. It’s something that my son and I were discussing the other day and I told him to let go of the idea of finding his style, but rather to get comfortable with his process. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized doing just that was the turning point for me as an artist and as a writer.
Finding your style takes an analytical approach to art and the process is in the doing. Everyone tells struggling artists to just make a lot of art, but that too feels vague. What it truly boils down to is the process and the feelings you get when creating.
In 2018 when our baby boy died I feared I’d never make art again. I was focused on a career in children’s illustrations and I was suddenly an artist who couldn’t create art. My husband pushed me to try a new medium. He suggested acrylic paint since my daughter had some and I refused. I didn’t know how to paint with acrylics. It seemed hard and way outside my comfort zone, but finally after enough needling from dear hubby I came into my studio, which I had avoided until then, and I started painting. The painting was terrible but it was the freest I’d ever felt when creating. That led to a year of me creating art just for me. (I even documented it and turned that year into a class…Art After Loss). I tried tons of mediums and I played. In the end, what I had discovered was a process that worked for me and ultimately when I look back I see my style forming.
So if you too are struggling to find “Your Style”…here are the four things I did that might just help you too.
- Try Different Mediums – Try something new. For me that was acrylic paint, then soft pastels, inks, markers, and the list goes on and on. This also means to try different paper or try digital art if you’ve always done analog.
- Look For What Inspires You – Look through your Pinterest boards for what grabs you. Maybe it’s something outside…the ocean, your garden, the trees. Finding something that excites you visually will drive you to your art desk.
- Listen To That Inner Voice / Your Gut – Don’t make art that you think people expect you to or want you to. Maybe you are moved my graffiti art. Maybe you want to try painting large murals but are afraid. That little voice inside is trying to tell you to go for it. Listen to it!
- Take Classes Outside Your Comfort Zone – Classes are the best way to try new ideas and mediums, but what I suggest is instead to push yourself to take a class that is so far outside your comfort zone. The reason is you stretch your creative muscles in a way that I’ve found always inspires new work. I read books about comic book art not because I want to create comic book art, but because I always learn something that I can use in my own art style. So try new things and see how it shows up in your own passion projects.