It has come to my attention that many people worry about this thing called "style". How does one find it? Will people respond to mine when I finally figure it out? When does this nefarious styling choices surface so I can quit thinking about it? And other such questions...
As this is "to the internet", and most of the talk on said internet is mostly....99%.....blow-harding-nonsensical-look-at-me-pay-attention rhetoric, I will add mine to the list as well.
In my opinion, young artists are far too concerned with the word Style. We use it as if it's a stand alone word and something you obtain. Like a pet rock…….. or gangrene. We yearn for it, we get judged by it, we get neglected or get accepted by it, and it dictates far too much of our time.
I believe motivations, Yes, motivations have a good portion to do with this idea. A client wants it to be more like this "style". The visual development should be more like Mary Blair. Jobs and mostly, money seem to have a way to tell the artist how they should in fact, be an artist. All of which breaks down to motivations and choices. Why did YOU become an artist? Is it to work at that particular studio? If you are largely motivated by ego (I need to work at Pixar or Disney or Dreamworks or Ghibli) then your “style” will steer directly to drawing like all the artists you already see there. Working off ego and “liking” a studios visual aesthetics are different, please understand that. I am not claiming that because you like a major studio you are driven be your ego, but some are. But not you, I like you. You're reading this....
There are 2 other motivations I wish to address. One is awesome and one is, in my opinion…not. The, I just want a job, motivation. I would say 85% of my students or artists I meet are predisposed with that idea. That your artistic self worth is neatly tied up in a bow made of 100 dollar bills. Now, I myself, would love a Grover (not Sesame Street) neck tie, but as a motivator, there is nothing to motivate. Not artistically. It’s hard to find something to say artistically when your only motivation is monetary gain. If this is you, there’s no problem with it, but you CAN find a better solution. Your motivation can be slightly seen as I want to make my living as an artist. And as that artist I want to make _________. You’ve side stepped your notion of “just get paid” and now can be the individual who started out on this journey in the first place. Many artists don't need to continue learning or getting better or influenced because, they already "made it". IE, paid. Psst, they get let go first FYI. And in this day and age of no one working at any company beyond 2 years, it's a trend that wont be stopping.
The other motivation is just plain, I NEED TO MAKE ART! I literally CAN’T be anything else. This opens yourself up to be influenced by many different ideas, places things, smells, experiences and anything else you drum up or think about. It frees you from any constraints of “style” or concern of it. And you’ll find that the more you take in, the more it will influence and morph into something truly unique. And when you find what you want to say, an audience will find you. It just takes time and hard work and persistence
It is extremely hard to be original and self motivated. The world from day one is telling us to conform. Too many young artists are simply regurgitating information other artists already came up with. Finding YOUR voice takes years and years. AND IT SHOULD! It’s like wine and cheeses not you tube and twitter….. Be ok with failings and hard knocks and time. It will come. Time is wonderful and should be appreciated, especially in this day and age where everything is 5 minutes ago.
Let's get back to style.
When you put so much effort into finding a certain style, you may very well be putting horse blinders on towards another influence that would elevate your understandings and knowledge. We should stop worrying about what style we have, and ask the real question, what do I want to be influenced by today? It's a simple perspective shift but frees you from concerning yourself with finding an answer. I truly believe there's not an answer to the question, which makes life and sometimes art, tiring and defeating.
Wherever you are right this minute, well not this minute unless you can read and draw at the same time in which case I say Bravo. But right now is your style.
Take solace in knowing that anything you paint today, is your style. That 5 years down the road the art you make will still be "your style". But it's yours, not a companies, not a brand. Yours. And that's the most important thing to remember. Be influenced, change things up, paint wrong, try something new and amazingly different. All of it is your style. What I am saying to you in as few words as possible (too late), is you are your style. Your influences (and they should NOT just be other artists), your life, your experiences, how your hand moves, the music you listen to, and everything else that genetically makes up YOU is your style. It should, I repeat, SHOULD change, evolve, become blatantly simplified or dazzlingly complex over the course of your career.
People will find you. Fans, peers, regular folk will find what you have to say visually. It may take them time to find you in this black hole we call the internet. And not everyone will gravitate towards your style, but the ones who do, will be interested if you have something to say. You do not have to be anyone other than you. Just be open, be ready, work hard, and don't sweat style.
I'll also note, the more you let in the more you get out. If you are looking to freelance if you are no longer concerned with "your style" it makes it easier. Not to be confused with easy…. Being able to work within a broad range given a client’s needs or constraints is important.
Well, my brain hurts. Hopefully there’s at least one nugget of knowledge someone somewhere on the internet takes away from this. Please let me know in the comment section if you want more of these shenanigans or just plain artwork. Your wish, my command.
Thanks Internet, that’s my writing on Style….
Just remember, Dumbledore had it, and so do you.
Brett "2d" Bean