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When does one know that a personal style has developed?

issue #2

Is it important to know what exactly that style is?

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issue #2 advice + inspiration from artists/illustrators/ designers on creativity, business and life.

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When does one know that a personal style has developed? Is it important to know what exactly that style is?

Each time I put pencil to paper, I always ask the same question to anyone who happened to stroll by: What do you think? Does it look like it came from me? Do you see my “mark”? And most of them will say that they can instantly recognize my work anywhere. Oftentime I’d ask them to further explain what they meant, only to be told “I don’t know how I can tell, but I just do.” Not much help there. I can’t explain it as well as most of the people who have sent in their thoughts here, but to me it was in the way that my hand moved, and how the whole process lifts me up and carried me off to a place where I forget where I am, and for a minute I’m lost in the moment. For those who can sense a style to my work, my biggest hope is that they can (perhaps) feel the same way when they look at my pieces, even if it was just for a moment. Amy

Issue #2’s question was sent in by Momo of

I think a personal style has developed when you are confident creating (without pressure) after seeing way super incredible works by other artists :P Probably because you are more confident from all the experiences you’ve accumulated – learning what sparks your creativity, what color palette you love to use for what specific occasion, what tools you enjoy and what tools you don’t. All these personal lessons play a big part in crafting your individual style. I find that it is important to know what style you have, in order to communicate your ideas and work to people. And hopefully your style changes and evolves to more exciting levels whenever it is time to learn something new :-) Xin

When does one know that a personal style has developed? I think that it’s kind of a retrospective thing combined with a comfort thing. When I feel comfortable with the work I’m doing I feel like I’m ‘in’ my personal style. I can usually sense a familiarity or a link with work I’ve done in the past. Looking at the work of others, as often as possible, really helps too - knowing what I like and feel connected with helps me to identify more closely with my own style. And is it important to know what exactly that style is? I like to let myself have room for development and change and hope that my subconscious knows what I am up to! I have a few different ‘types’ of work that I like to make and I sometimes wonder if this jeopardises my ‘style’ but figure it’s still me making it - and trying new things is good! If I deviate too far from my comfort zone though I usually don’t like the work and don’t take it any further. So I guess having a strong sense of my own style is very important. Belinda Kemp

I suppose a succinct way to tell if you’ve developed a personal style, is when people recognize your work as YOURS [without looking @ the signature;)] right off the bat. i think i got “there” sometime in high school, and have been refining mine ever since. Brian Patenaude

I didn’t know I had a real style until a children’s book editor pointed it out to me. And the only reason he brought it up was he thought a couple of my illustrations with people in them weren’t “me”. I thought a lot about it, in fact it stopped me drawing for about a month... then! I believe I saw what he saw. I think, as well since working more full time on my work, my style has become stronger. I don’t think you should be limited and not having the possibility to grow, and you will always develop and change, maybe ever so slightly, but I think you should be aware of how you create, careful not to ape someone else’s style. I like to hear from people that they knew I drew / painted a piece before they saw my name these days. Emma Kidd

Over time you start to see your style really come into play. You will see similarities and themes that always show up in your work, if you’re consistently creating. I think for me, I knew my personal style when I felt comfortable and confident in my artwork. It’s funny because I have a different style depending on the medium I work with. But knowing your style is a benefit because you should use it towards your advantage. When you’re forced to use a different style that isn’t your own, I think you’re denying your natural talent and instincts. Cathie Urushibata

It’s extremely hard to determine exactly when my personal style developed. It could have happened as a child when my line drawings started evolving; I was always sketching with a continuous, unbroken line. I think this has continued in my adult life but matured and with that become more refined. I have always painted too and I would say my paintings have been my recognizable style over the past 15 years. I think when clients started hiring me for jobs based on these paintings I realized that I had a “style”. The purpose of having a personal style is that art directors can rely on and hire you for a job knowing what they’re going to get. It’s more a commercial construct than anything else to me. I don’t think this has to mean that you only have one style by which you work. It’s possible to have a couple of styles but important to keep these consistent and strong. It’s also important to know that your style will develop and change over the years and that’s one of the most fascinating parts of being an illustrator for me. It keeps you learning and discovering the breadth of possibilities. One’s medium and techniques may change and with that whole new avenues open up. Claudia Pearson

42 pages A5 size staple bound 28 participants black & white text + illustrations

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Good to Know #2  
Good to Know #2  

The Good to Know Project is full of advice + inspiration from artists/illustrators/designers on creativity, business and life. Issue #2's to...