When I knew I was going to be an artist, around age 6-7, I wasn't on a quest to find my STYLE. It sounds silly. What child it on a quest to find their style? They are just interested in finding anything.
To an extent.
From an early age, I knew that if I wanted to learn how to draw a tree, first I had to sit and look at a tree. And draw it while I was looking at it.
But then I realized, that there were many ways to draw that same tree. With a painbrush. With a pen.
With short stubby lines. With long fluid ones.
Each attempt made me feel something different about that tree.
Being exposed to a lot of art as a child, I soon realized that every artist had his own voice, and I became thrilled with so many forms of art.
I get asked a lot how I found my STYLE, and while I won't mention it all here (way too long!) I will say that I did have a very strong sense of what I liked in art and why.
I started out painting because that's the education I had at a young age.
The above painting is a painting I did when I was 15, and I spent the summer copying lots of different artists. This is a painting of a painting, and in my early years, that's how I taught myself.
Here's a portrait I did of my husband when we were early married. But I realized pretty fast that I didn't want to go into painting because it was just too time consuming and frankly, wasn't what I wanted to SAY to the world. But because I had dabbled in lots of areas, I knew that about myself.
But while I had a traditional education in highschool, I knew that wasn't my style. I liked it, but it wasn't my voice. And with the hours and hours I'd spent pouring over picture book illustration, and drawing with line and wash, I really found myself drawn to a more simplistic illustration style. I marveled at how much feeling could be felt in just a few lines and a bit of color. While an oil painting could say so much, I wanted to say just as much if not more, with as little as possible. Which is so challenging. But that's what excited me!
When I started to build my artwork professionally, I spent a lot of time surrounded by my favorite illustrators. I discovered what I loved about their work, and what I had to add to that style.
One hero of mine, Marc Simont, just died last month at the age of 97. Did you hear about that?
He taught me that so much information could be said by just ONE line. Less is more. His artwork challenged me to really be deliberate about my line work and how much art I put on a page. I adore his work!
I have so many hero's, and I might take some time later on to go through more. And identifying the pieces that have made your voice what it is, is really lovely to identify and see. Like pieces of a puzzle. Because often, you don't know what's influenced your style until after the fact.
Finding your own personal style, in what ever it is you do, is a multi-layered journey. And I believe it should always be stretching and reaching for new places. My own style has changed over the years, and I love discovering where it's leading me.
And as a side note, my friend Monica Lee, who has the super awesome site called SMART CREATIVE WOMEN with a site full of interviews from the design world's super creative people, has just launched an online class called SMART CREATIVE STYLE. It's an interactive online course all on developing your own personal style. I have a video interview up on her site today talking about creative process and style! The course includes my input and is full of amazing council from some real style pro's. See her page here!
I'd love to know your thoughts on style, and what you've learned in your own journey. In this day and age when SO many voices are heard and seen online, knowing your own individuality is so important.