Do you struggle with nailing down your style?
Do you find yourself jumping from one medium to the next, and finding yourself frustrated that all your work looks different?
This post is for you!
The most frequent lament I hear from beginner artists is that they don't know how to find their style. They feel like every other artist has it in the bag, and they're just floundering.
Here's the big secret no one is telling you: Every artist with a unique style has probably been exactly where you are, frustrated and unfocused. It was only through years of practice that they arrived at their style. And guess what? Styles change! Chances are, if they're a good artist, their style won't look the same in five years! So, take heart.
Here are a few tips to help you on your creative style treasure hunt:
1. Practice, practice, practice!
Almost no one is born with pure creative talent. There's a steep learning curve! If you go weeks without painting, you'll never reach the level you want to achieve. Put in the daily work, even if you don't feel like you are progressing. You are, I promise.
Try different mediums. Your art WILL look different when you switch mediums, and that is totally ok! Each medium has lessons to teach you. You'll find that some come more easily than others: some will frustrate you, and some will keep you endlessly fascinated. Go toward your fascination.
3. Ask yourself, "what comes naturally?"
Does abstract painting make you want to rip your hair out? Don't paint abstractly! It sounds simple, but many artists try to force themselves to paint like the artists they admire, all the while overlooking mediums and subjects that actually come quite naturally to them. Don't force it.
4. Use materials that fit your lifestyle.
If you have a small child at home, toxic materials might not be your bag. If you have limited space, that will inform the tools you use as well. I became a watercolor painter mainly because I had a baby and didn't want to use oil paints, epoxy, or anything with fumes.
5. Make the art you want to see in the world.
What kind of art would you hang in your home? Would you proudly display your own art? If not, ask yourself why? If it's not a matter of technical skill, it might be that you need to try different subject matter, colors, etc.
6. Ask what you find yourself returning to.
Is there a subject or medium you find yourself drawn to repeatedly? That's an important clue that you should follow that trail! For me it was florals. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, it was what I found myself doodling when my mind was empty and relaxed. I spent years avoiding my perfect subject!
7. Research what gaps you can fill.
With the current reign of visual social media, it can feel like there are no gaps in the market, but this simply isn't true! Think both small and big. Are there local spaces in your town or city that need art? Is there a lack of good representational art on your instagram feed? Do you see the need for smaller, more affordable art where you live? Try to be the one to meet those needs.
8. Niche til it hurts!
Once you find something that feels really good and natural, niche down. Don't do this until you've spent years experiementing! Maybe architectural drawings have always been your thing. Can you niche even further? Maybe you could draw only abandoned buildings. Or perhaps you could draw homes for new homeowners! Be known for one thing and do it EXCELLENTLY. This doesn't mean you can't change in the future. Of course you can! But it's better to be known for being an expert in one thing than to be ok at a bunch of things.
9. Notice what people are responding to.
Are there one or two things that you've created that have gotten amazing feedback? Pay attention to that. You do not exist in a creative bubble. Art is a two way street between the creater and the viewer. Deliver art that brings joy not only to you but to your potential patrons as well. Selfish art is no way to make a living!
I hope these tips help you discover a style that feels so good that you won't want to stop creating! Let me know if you find value in them!