Have you been chipping away at your art practice, and felt discouraged because you can't quite get what's on the page to match what's inside your head? Does your art not always feel like "you"? Do you feel a little lost looking at other artist's work, and like yours just doesn't stand out from the crowd?
I get that, because I've felt that 100%. Actually, I still feel like that sometimes!
Please know that this is totally normal. Whether you're just starting out, or have some years of practice under your belt. This. is. normal...and this is okay!
But I do have some tips for you to help quell that discouraging feeling. Because I know firsthand that it's not the most fun to feel that way.
Before we get into the tips, what is a signature style and why is it important?
A signature style is that element to your artwork that makes it instantly recognizable as yours. This element is different for everyone, because they have their own unique styles.
It's important because if you are looking to expand your art in new ways, like through art licensing or gaining more collectors, you want your work to stand out as unequivocally yours - that's what makes people drawn to it!
And of course, the tips below require some work on your part. But if you're here, I have a feeling you're not going to let a little commitment stop you from pushing your art further, right? ;)
Tip #1: Create every day.
I know a daily practice is not feasible during all seasons of life. But I'm talking about creating something super simple at least once a day. This can be a doodle while you're on a work call, or it can be a full blown painting in your sketchbook.
It just needs to be something. Because while we are trying to hone your skills and style in the long-run, what's most important is keeping your mind dedicated to the practice of creating.
That's why it's okay if it's just a 30 second doodle. Then you can have the confidence to tell yourself, hey, I made something today and I can do this again tomorrow!
These little, daily steps will add up to a great amount of progress and confidence-building over time.
Tip #2: Study your favorite artists.
Preferably in person if you can! Look at their brushstrokes up close and study their movement. Discover the soul and intention behind the painting by looking for the decisions they made along the way to make up the larger piece.
If you're looking at artists online, create a special Pinterest board of inspiration. Not to copy their work, but to look for specific traits that inspire you.
When looking at your favorite artists who have their own unique style, ask yourself:
- What is the consistent theme I see in their work? Is it color palette, brushstroke style, subject matter, simply the medium they chose?
- Why do you think they made those decisions?
- How does their work make you feel?
Studying your favorite artworks like this will help you think more about the decisions you make in your own process.
Tip #3: Explore. Commit. Explore. Commit. Repeat!
In the beginning, I think artists can get stuck in either of these two places: 1) They stick to one medium and are afraid to branch out to others, which limits them in the long-run. 2) They try too many mediums at once, not giving any one medium the commitment and time it deserves.
If you're in the camp of being afraid to branch out to a new medium, I highly encourage you to try something new! You don't have to share it online if you don't want to. Approach what you're making as an experiment, and try not to worry about the outcome.
If you're trying too many different things at once, I suggest sticking to one medium for at least a full 30 days. Create something every day in that one medium, and watch your skills flourish!
A personal tidbit: I created in watercolor primarily for a few years before branching out into acrylic painting. I spent a full year learning all I could about acrylics, including taking a workshop at my local art store about all of the different mediums the brand Golden offers, and then taking a six week acrylic painting class over the summer. I let myself explore and play and I am STILL learning about acrylics - but I love that process! I switch back and forth between watercolor and acrylic at the moment, and I enjoy having them both to change it up. However, I stick to the same subject matter, florals, which lends some consistency to the look of my work as a whole.
When working towards honing your signature style, exploring different mediums will help you find that common thread in your work that shines through no matter the medium you use. Maybe you'll commit to one main material in the end, but don't forget to let yourself explore!
And remember, finding your style should actually help create more freedom in your work, and should not feel limiting. That's because by finding your style, you are actually finding your confidence as an artist. Confidence and freedom, what could be more fun than that?