Finding your art style might seem like an easy task for an artist. But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. Style is learned, adopted, manipulated, and developed over time. Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose, and sometimes both.
As a professional artist, it took me years to figure out what my painting style was. The crazy thing is that others would tell me they “love my style” but I didn’t see or understand fully what they were talking about. That’s why I wanted to share a creative guide for artists, to hopefully help give them some encouragement when they are searching for their creative voice.
What is artistic style?
Your artistic style is totally specific to you. Your style is you. What does that mean exactly? Your style is a combination of your voice, techniques, color choices, subjects, media, and more all wrapped up. Your style is what connects each of your pieces together into a unique and cohesive collection.
The best part is that it continues to evolve over time. Even when you’ve found it, it starts to change. Which is okay because that’s how you evolve as an artist.
Trust the Process, Trust Yourself
There’s a process that every artist goes through when discovering their style. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. But then that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? If you aren’t having fun then you’re missing the point of why you’re creating in the first place.
We are all unique, therefore each process is unique for each artist. I’ve narrowed down the process that has helped me, from my experience when I was trying to figure my artistic style.
Step 1. Creative Exploration
Most artists that wonder what their art style is, already have a medium that they tend to cling to and feel more comfortable with. For me, it’s painting with acrylics. If you aren’t sure what your craft of choice, try out various mediums.
Once you find what ignites your creative fire, focus on that. Start with one medium to perfect first and then move on to the next if you want. I know this from experience. I swear my creative brain is all over the place in wanting to do all the things. Then I remember one of my favorite quotes:
“You can do everything just not everything. ” -David Allen
Don’t burn yourself out. Release expectations and just have fun. *Pro Tip: Focusing on too many different mediums end up always being overwhelming.
Step 2. Create and Then Keep Creating
Simply put, make art. And then make more art. Who knew right? After you have explored your creativity and figured out what you’re going to focus on make, make, then make some more. You aren’t going to figure out your style if you don’t have finished pieces.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have. ” -Maya Angelou
The more you keep creating the more you will notice what you like creating and what you don’t. You’ll start craving to create.
Step 3. Improving Your Craft
Not every piece is going to be a winner and that’s okay! It’s perfectly acceptable to make mistakes or as Bob Ross calls them “happy accidents.” That’s how you improve your craft.
“Every great artist has a closest full of bad paintings.” -David Young
I’m an example of one of those artists. I have a box full of paintings that will never see the light of day. “Bad “paintings are better than no paintings.
4. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
This brings me to the next step. If you’re uncomfortable then you’re on the right track! So many times we think being uncomfortable is a bad thing. But when it comes to creating it’s actually a blessing in disguise. Stepping out of your comfort zone is how you grow as an artist. Which ends up fueling your confidence in the process. Trying new things will become second nature.
5. Finding Your Voice
“Your voice” is your passion. What are you passionate about? It can be anything! As someone who’s painted for 7+ years, I just recently found “my voice” a couple of years ago. It’s true what they say “good things take time.” (Or for me it did.)
Example: One thing I’m passionate about is animals. (I’m even a vegetarian.) I love painting colorful, cute animals so other people can see them from my perspective. All living things are beautiful. I love painting that beauty. Paint what you love. Create what you love. Keep your creative energy flowing in the right direction. It’s more fun that way too!
6. Discovering Your Art Style
What it really comes down to is focusing on you. What makes you tick. Pay attention to what speaks to your soul and makes you feel happy when you are creating. You’re going to start noticing what you’re drawn to. Which makes you want to create more.
Then you’ll start seeing the similarities in your work. You’ll start a rhythm in your work that you didn’t even know was there. Until one day you have your ah-ha moment. Discovering your style varies from artist to artist. It’s not easy but nothing ever worthwhile is.
Just have fun and enjoy the process.
In Conclusion: Finding Your Art Style is a Never-Ending Process
Creating and showcasing your personal style is a wonderful achievement. Some artists develop early, and some take years to find their rhythm and voice. Whatever pace you need to work at is the right place. Honestly, I’m still working on mine 7 years later. I think we all are, and always will be. As we grow and evolve so does our art. We’re all human after all, we change. Our passions might change. Therefore so does our art. And it should. It keeps things interesting.
Just don’t try to force your style. Exercise your creative muscles whenever it calls you and enjoy the ride.
I hope this post was insightful. If you have anything you’d like to add I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If you need an inspiration pick-me-up, check out my other article: How To Get Inspired – Sparking Your Creativity.