Artists: STOP looking for your “STYLE!”

“Dreamer’s Disease” 48x72 inches.

Style. Everyone wants a style, right? From a drawing style, to a hairstyle, to the clothes you wear… It’s a universal thing that we desire yet sometimes we don’t even think about how we’re going about it.

I remember being a young kid and looking at the clothes the cool kids were wearing, especially my older brothers. Baggy jeans were the thing. The wider the legs, the better. You couldn’t get wide enough!

My brothers wore those baggy jeans. My mom HATED it. And why wouldn’t she? Looking back, they looked RIDICULOUS. There’s no way I would have believed that in 15 years the trend would be the exact opposite and that even the rappers would be wearing jeans that look painted-on.

I never was allowed to wear those jeans. And I was too scared to disobey my mom like my brothers always did! I wanted to be of the cool kids. Their style from our eyes looks fully-formed as if they just woke up with the ability to create like this, so of course we want the shortcut to have that power for ourselves. In some ways all of us artists start by “wearing the ripped jeans” or whatever is the style of the day,

metaphorically speaking. We are all asking that question in the beginning, aren’t we?

“How did you find your style?” Or, more pertinent to the asker: “What do I have to do to find my style?”

It’s a common question. Maybe you have asked it. Or thought about asking it.

But, here’s the thing…

The reason this question comes up so much is because we’re not able to easily step outside of ourselves and see what we create through somebody else’s eyes. What we are saying when we tell ourselves “I don’t have a style yet” is really “I don’t think the art I produce stands out from the art I surround myself with.”

And, once we realize that, there are a few things we can do to put ourselves on a path of discovery:

As an exercise, take 3 artists whose work you like, and choose one or two things about it that you like the most. Is it the linework in their drawing? Some certain color that they use that just gives you tingles when they put it in there? The fact that they always hide a kitten in the bottom-left corner of their paintings?

Now, ask yourself what it is about those things that you like.

Can you use specific words about how they make you feel? And are those words that you wish people would use to describe your work?

You can use those answers as a springboard to inspire you to work on a way to expressing yourself that