Isn’t that the question that all young artists ask themselves? Perhaps along with other very important questions such as ‘What makes me different from others?’ and ‘What do I want to say to the world through my art?’
And it is not a minor issue. Style is an important part of what bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon define as “the artistic voice”, which also includes telling your truth and developing your skill, among other needs. In fact, Lisa has a very helpful book about this topic.
Surely the more experienced will say that one’s own style is simply the consequence of hours and hours of drawing and experimentation and that there are no hacks or tricks to make the process easier. However, some amazing artists shared with us their thoughts about how to find your own style. So don’t you miss out!
Ola Szmida is a professional animator, motion designer, and illustrator. Her experience includes editorial and book illustration, animation, post-production and storyboarding. Her animations were presented at many international festivals such as Seville European Film Festival, Anilogue, Animafest, Fantoche, Mecal – Barcelona, Żubroffka, Młodzi i Film, among others. Follow her on Instagram and Behance.
Regarding style, I like to think about what artist Yuko Shimizu once said: “I don’t really believe the word ‘style’. However, I believe fully and deeply in the personal voice”. I totally agree with that. I work in several different techniques; traditional and digital. I make complex colorful illustrations and very simple, linear drawings. I work as an illustrator and animator. I try to find fun and excitement in my job and not think so much about adjusting to a certain “style”. I think every illustrator is naturally attracted to his personal way of drawing, and the best way to “find it” is to create a lot and, if possible, without judgment.
Yulong Lli is a Shanghai-based freelance illustrator. He studied Visual Communication in the UK as a funded exchange program student and received his MFA from the China Academy of Art in 2020. His illustration style ranged from the cultural blending of eastern and western in Shanghai, such as Vintage illustration poster, Modernism arts, and graphic design.
Practicing is the best way to find your style. In my opinion, style can reflect many things about an artist, like fashion tests, identity, and background. But by doing just one or two artworks, no one can discover what they want to talk about.
She feels inspired to work with design-focused organizations to create editorial art, website graphics, posters, portraits, app visuals, covers and characters — any kind of illustrations. She has created illustrations for Forbes, Volkswagen, Tatler, Interscope Records, Entertainment Weekly, Skolkovo, A1, Salle Privée, magazines, and bands.
I think it’s very important to listen to your heart first. I mean, even if you choose a fashionable and popular style, drawing within its framework will not bring you joy – you will not be able to develop, you will be repressed and burned out.
So listen to yourself first; collect mood boards and analyze similar images you like. Try to draw in the chosen technique (but do not copy other people’s artwork, as this is considered bad form). As a result, after you draw about 10 artworks, your drawings will begin to show a unique personal style. If you put in the effort, this is a guaranteed result.
I believe that there are no shortcuts here, so practice! Go crazy, play around, and try things to discover what you stand for and make it yours. Most importantly, once you start to find your aesthetic, be consistent using those elements throughout your work because your style is what will set you apart.
Tubites, Illustration, graphic design and art direction by Lorena G.
Tips by Ceren Burcu Turkan
Ceren Burcu Turkan is a full-time Creative Director & Graphic Designer from Istanbul, Turkey. She creates custom illustrations in logos and packaging designs to make them unique and memorable.
She is also an NFT artist, developing a collection of 100 Unique & Crafted Ethereum-based NFT’s called Creemo’s on blockchain.
I remember I was so stressed about finding my own style when I just started, and spend a lot of time checking out other designers’ portfolios, but in the end, I feel like my style found me. I always liked drawing anatomically correct figures and was never interested in character design and my starting point was charcoal. So vintage illustrations with attention to light and shadow became my style.I really liked woodcut-style illustrations and I try to mimic this style digitally. If you have a favorite style, you carve your own voice with it after a lot of practice.
Rong Pham is an illustrator with over 6 years of experience in publishing and advertising, also pursuing a degree in Fine Arts, majoring in Son-mai (a traditional Vietnamese method of art-making). As a fine artist, and illustrator, he is well-versed in analogue, digital, and mixed media paintings.
His client list includes Scholastic Asia, Uniqlo, Honda, Coca-Cola, and Poodle Doodle Press, among others.
The journey getting there was very sloppy and uneasy for me.
I started to learn how to be a visual artist about 8 years ago. It was a 2-year course in a small institution. Back then, my first tactic in terms of ‘style’ was that I should pick one style of the artist that I love most and progress on that. I was basically enjoying ‘doodle art’ and that’s what I headed for at the beginning of my learning. As I progressed, my taste in art changed and I picked up another ‘style’ along the way. I stuck to this way of illustrating until the day I attended a Fine arts course at college. Here I was introduced to oil paint, watercolor, poster paint, charcoal, and so on. The experience helped me express my artistic voice in new ways and also with a new set of thinking. This resulted in the change in the outlook of my artworks from time to time and I never seemed to settle down to a specific ‘style’ at all. Many people believe that a ‘style’ should be unchangeable but should ‘style’ be consistent at all?
I think an ‘art style’ should only be a commercial term. You should be consistent with your job and commissions. Your portfolio for work could show only the best part of you that grants your clients and art directors an exact expectation of your works.
However, in terms of a healthy artistic life, we shouldn’t put ourselves in such a box. We as artists are always learning new things and exploring the world in different ways. It could be a letdown to always do something in the same way for a long time. We should explore the inner world more and more, in terms of subjects, ideas, and techniques so that we can never bore ourselves. My artworks are changing through time but I think it’s getting better than before. I am proud of the way I am going despite a continuous struggle to balance between work and artistic life.
Germán Reina Carmona is a 2D artist from Lanzarote, Spain. He works as a freelance concept artist, developing characters and environments for creative agencies, studios and game builders such as Roll7 (UK), SunnyBoy Entertainment (US), West Studio (US), Brown Bag Films (UK) and Zombot Studio (TW).
This is a classic. I think it’s a bit abstract and there’s not a definite answer. But this is something that comes with practice and has no end since it evolves with you. It’s a mix between your references and your taste.
Alberto Miranda is a Multidisciplinary Visual Designer and Illustrator from Madrid, Spain. He works as a freelancer, focusing mainly on editorial illustration. His impressive client list includes The New York Times, The Guardian UK/US, The Telegraph, Medium, El País, Líbero, and G2, among others.
I think it is important to have an artistic speech rather than an art style. If you have a speech, the art style comes right after. It’s a consequence.
If you build your own voice you can always take steps in the right direction and you will always be coherent with what you and what you say. So my advice is to find what is important for you, in your life. Your values or motivations. Have a voice and then find a way to express it visually.
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Feli Arrieta is a book editor and content creator from Buenos Aires. Tirelessly curious, she is passionate about traveling, living new experiences and learning different disciplines, to be shared through her writings.